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Travel + Design: The Beach Motel

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Steps from the sandy shores of Ontario’s Lake Huron, The Beach Motel in Southampton beguiles with thoughtful design and creature comforts

Welcoming amenities of chilled or warm, lavender-scented hand towels and cups of Madagascar vanilla-infused iced tea are the first intimation The Beach Motel is something special. “Our goal was to create a unique, boutique property with a guest-focused experience,” says Southampton native Dane Buttenaar. He and his wife, Samantha, purchased the ’50s-era motel in 2020, undeterred by its neglected state. “Our beautiful town of Southampton was lacking luxurious accommodations and we wanted to fill that need,” says Samantha. The couple are founders of DASA Properties, a company specializing in converting properties into quality rentals, so they already had their own building team in place, ready to tackle the project.

Southampton Travel

A chic lounge and shop welcomes guests in the motel’s reception.

Sarah Forster and Natasha Popek-Konieczko, co-founders of Toronto’s Common Good Studio, were brought on board to help conjure the dream of a modern, lakeside getaway with contemporary rooms that channelled a beach aesthetic and relaxing communal areas that invited lingering. “Our plan was to honour and restore this historic property, while making it a four-season destination,” says Popek-Konieczko.

The Beach Motel

Common Good Studio co-founders Sarah Forster (left) and Natasha Popek-Konieczko in The Beach Motel’s sunlit lobby.

The designers retained the original motel archetype structure – a one-level street-side facade in front of a courtyard with two levels of guest rooms – and focused on a restorative approach that respected the existing footprint and reimagined underutilized areas. The biggest changes included eliminating an ill-placed guestroom to expand the lobby; transforming the owner’s suite to house a spa and communal lounge and dining area; and repurposing the lobby’s flat roof as an outdoor patio anchored by a fireplace. The exterior cultivates a breezy vibe with bright white siding and scallop shakes.

The Beach Motel

Architectural details adorn the motel’s 17 suites – such as this white oak-framed archway.

“For The Beach Motel, we established a narrative that celebrated the local and historic lake culture of Southampton,” says Forster. The 17 guest suites have nautical nods, such as porthole windows, shiplap-clad walls and curved forms and archways, and neutral palettes punctuated with watery shades of green and blue. Sustainable cork floors layer in natural warmth that’s furthered by custom-made, integrated white-oak furniture. “We designed each piece,” says Popek-Konieczko.

The Beach Motel

Bathrooms are equipped with eco-friendly, made-in-Southampton toiletries by Re:mind Wellness.

“For smaller rooms, the bed design incorporates tuck-away space for suitcases, shoes and a drawer for unpacking.” Almost all of the furnishings and accessories are Canadian and many were crafted locally. Hallmarks of a boutique hotel are firmly in place thanks to special touches like pillowtopped mattresses, 300-count sateen cotton linens and plush terry-lined robes. Bathrooms have radiant in-floor heating and some boast soaker tubs.

Southampton motel

Bright white makes for a cool and coastal monochrome palette in one of the guest suites.

It’s a place you might not wish to leave and you don’t have to. Continental breakfasts are complimentary and the in-house SandBar restaurant lets you take dinner in the lounge, on the rooftop patio or in the comfort of your room – a perfect spot to stream the latest movie and savour a locally grown mushroom tartine with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Should you need anything else, just call the concierge – yes, The Beach Motel has one of those too. THEBEACHMOTEL.CA

The Beach Motel

LOCATION: 21 Huron St. S, Southampton, ON
221 km from Toronto

IF YOU GO

What To Do

Fairy Lake

Beautiful year-round, Fairy Lake is a scenic respite in the middle of town. A tree-lined path not far from the motel offers a leisurely stroll around the water.

Southampton Ontario

Bruce County Museum

Exploring the area’s history from First Nations people to the First World War, the museum offers collections of cultural artifacts and a peek at early settler life.

Travel + Design

Highview Restaurant

This family-owned eatery artfully blends ambient decor and Mediterranean-inspired comfort food. Find daily specials along with classic menu items and a must-try Negroni.

Travel Toronto

Chantry Island Lighthouse Tour

Visible from the shores of Southampton, the island is home to an 19th-century lighthouse with a panoramic view.

Travel + Design

Inglis Falls

The remarkable 18-metre-high falls alone are worth the 30-minute drive from The Beach Motel to Inglis Falls. There are also hiking trails and the remains of an old mill.

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