Posted: March 1, 2013
My grandmother Kathleen Fleming always said “It's not the house that makes the home – it's the people in it”.
I'm certain she would think the world of Dora & Dion Finlay – the owners of Leaside Manor.
When I started Sea and be Scene it was always with the intent of celebrating wonderful people and places just like the Finlays and their lovely spot in the city of St.John's, NL.
March 7th will mark their 2nd Anniversary as proprietors (and their daughters 5th birthday) – so it is with congratulations and salutations that we share their special success story. Their's has been a journey of focus and dedication to a dream – all built on love – for each other, for the opportunity to meet new people and for their homeland of Newfoundland & Labrador.
Here it is...as told to us by Dora – we're so very pleased to present it! SABS
We both grew up in small scenic communities on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland, myself in Trepassey and Dion in St.Shott's. Growing up there instilled in us both how important both family, and our Newfoundland culture really are to us. Those days will forever be in our memories - days of playing until dark, getting lost in the fresh crisp beautiful outdoors...only realizing it was time to go inside when you heard your mother yell from the front door "supper is ready".
Dion and I have been friends since we were 12 years old, you might say we were just meant to be together. Our friendship continued all through high school, and even when we left our hometowns to pursue post secondary school. It wasn't until a couple of years living in St.John's that we started dating, and ended up love struck.
This whole adventure is a tale of goal setting, and the focus and determination to achieve those goals. We finished our schooling and even lived out of province for several years for employment. The lure of Newfoundland always beckoned us back. Dion and I have always been interested in the real estate market, and as an effort started investing in it 15 years ago. Back then we thought it was going to help allow us to invest and make a little extra to support our employment and help us to return and raise a family in Newfoundland.
Ten years ago, late 2003, after a number of purchases in St.John's and a change in our employment we moved back to Newfoundland. The next few years were spent settling in and starting our family, I worked off and on in the oil and gas industry while Dion started a business with Investors Group as a financial Planner. In 2006 our son was born and in 2008 our daughter. Throughout those years we maintained the real estate but in 2008 we set a new goal to acquire more. We purchased some multi-unit residential properties, some of which were in the downtown core and in short saw the need for fully furnished units in the city. We did renovations in the building and turned it into 7 superb, fully furnished executive apartments.
This struck a spark within us. We were meeting so many great people. People seeking accommodations for work purposes, vacation purposes etc. With 2 Kids, Dion building his Business with Investors Group and myself working full-time, things were pretty busy. It was time to re-evaluate, do we sell off or go bigger??
It didn't take us long to decide we wanted to continue on the path we were on - but what next?
During our relationship we always enjoyed having a 'staycation' - A night or two away from it all, but without leaving town. We enjoyed checking out the local B&B's, seeing what each had to offer. Before our 2nd child was born we thought we would check out Leaside Manor, we had heard so many good things about it. Needless to say we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, the Jacuzzi, the fireplace, the candlelight, the breakfast in bed, and the list goes on. Years passed since that night and a couple of times we spoke of maybe one day running our own B&B.
Our Fully furnished building that we have since named Finlay Manor was just down the street from Leaside Manor and while we were trying to figure out our next direction, would you believe that Leaside Manor came on the market? When we found out our hearts skipped a beat! In March 2011 we became the owners, and although still somewhat new to the place, we feel like it has been our baby forever.
Leaside came with a great staff and great systems, we didn't change much, we absorbed what was going on and from the beginning it did what we wanted it to do. Within a few months we were asking ourselves what would our mark be on Leaside Manor, how would we add to it, it was all going so well.
It was goal setting time again. Just behind Leaside was a B & B known as Compton House - the owners, who also owned the 10 unit apartment building adjacent to Leaside called Midstream, were looking to retire. And with our staff behind us, by the end of September 2011 we had purchased both of those. This gave us 10 new B&B rooms to redo and 10 new apartments to furnish, it gave us loads of new land for parking and lots of ways to put our mark on Leaside.
Winter of 2012 was spent doing extensive renovations to Compton House, which we are now so proud of! The new fireplace jacuzzi suites with rainfall showers are in high demand. Each suite is uniquely named with a Newfoundland theme. Two of the namesakes of these new suites come from our local surroundings...
One named The Avalon (boasting this picturesque Avalon Peninsula in which we reside), and another is The Irish Loop (that's where you'll find both of our hometowns).
We added a second Board room, linked all the land with a road and now have 22 rooms and 10 furnished apartments all on the same piece of property plus the original 7 just down the road. We are operating as Leaside Manor Inc. with a full complement of staff and we couldn't be happier.
We were thrilled when the Globe & Mail dubbed us One of Canada's Most Romantic Destinations. We start with the basics; amazing Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces, uniquely decorated rooms, impeccable cleanliness. Then add on professional staff that offer number one customer service while paying attention to guests' privacy and space. Add in some of our signature packages such as chocolate dipped strawberries or our very popular "wicked night out package", or wine/champagne with cheese cake and many other options... then of course we top that of with breakfast in bed!
While we are well known for being a romantic destination, folks are fond of our standard rooms, studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom fully furnished apartments as well. For a night, a week a month or a year we have you covered.
We're doing more corp0rate events and retreats now too - having the 2 B & B's allows us the ability to rent out the full house for functions, we can do special sit down meals or events up to 60 people with hors d'oeuvres and cocktails etc. Right now we're in the middle of planning a House Concert Series and so many other great things.
Keep an eye to us we are having lots of fun! DF
For more on the history of Leaside click here
For more on history of Compton House click here
For everything else visit www.leasidemanor.com