You may be wondering how two young people from opposite sides of the planet ended up running a small hostel in Trinity East, Newfoundland.
The hostel began as, and remains today, a family business.
Chapter 1: There once was a house
In 2010 the Nelson family came to Newfoundland on a holiday and fell in love. Like many living in Toronto, they had seen the spectacular Newfoundland tourism ads that have brought many to this beautiful province.
They were surprised by the lack of affordable accommodation, and began considering establishing a business of their own. Libby and Martha were still in University, and able to commit time during the summer months to developing and running a small business. Tim, their father, was willing to support the girls to get them off the ground.
Within a few months of returning from their holiday, they had found a suitable building in their favourite community, Trinity East.
The beautiful bay with it’s colourful houses and fishing stages, was made only more inviting by the friendly locals. And it didn’t take them long to know they would be back.
The property had been empty for 10 years, and needed a great deal of work before it would be ready to welcome guests. So in the Spring of 2011 Martha, Libby, Tim, and their friend Camille, all headed to snowy Trinity East to attack the house.
Camille had a background in interior decorating, and was keen to start a business of her own. She was eager to get her hands dirty designing and decorating this large 5-bedroom house. Camille’s time in Newfoundland became a stepping-stone that allowed the development of her business Cambie.
For more info on Camille and her business, check out her website here!
After a month of hard work destroying, building, painting, and plumbing, the girls were able to open their doors.
The 2011 season was a juggling act of greeting guests while continuing renovations. When the hostel was quiet, Martha and Libby would take the opportunity to work on a new area of the building.
Libby’s partner Dave soon joined the team, and the four of them continued to develop and improve the property as their first season drew to a close.
Chapter 2: From a house to a home
The subsequent years were spent developing a brand, and establishing a name for the Skerwink Hostel.
The team changed from year to year, but Libby and Martha maintained a vision of the warm, cozy, and affordable accommodation they wished to provide. They pooled their knowledge and experiences from backpacking around the world to create their ideal hostel. One that has cozy beds, with real sheets and warm duvets, one that offers a delicious breakfast of homemade bread, one with a large library and various cozy corners to sit and read, and one with friendly faces to welcome guests and answer questions.
With Libby and Dave living on site, the hostel became known for it’s homely and welcoming atmosphere. Guests from all over the world came and enjoyed the cozy and comfortable Skerwink Hostel, their home away from home.
Guests were welcomed and treated to fresh tea, home-baked goods, kayaking trips, and more.
The girls’ vision had become a reality, a comfortable and affordable accommodation had made the Trinity Bay accessible to families, hikers, and budget travelers.
Chapter 3: From a business at home, to a homey business.
In 2014 Martha returned from Law School in Scotland, with a new vision for the future of the hostel. She had met a charming young man who worked in the Snowsport’s Industry, and enjoyed seasonal work.
The hostel had never had a long term plan, so Martha turned her focus to sustainability.
First things first, she moved out of the hostel. The business acquired a small bungalow that had sat vacant for some years, and they began renovating.
With Gavin joining the business in 2015 they focused on developing a garden, and establishing a volunteer dorm to expand the hostel team. With space for volunteers we were able to bring in extra hands, including artists, to add to the hostel.
With each season the hostel improves and grows. Every year new and exciting people join our team and contribute to this wonderful business.
We continue to provide comfortable and affordable accommodation, with a vision to increasing accessibility to the Bonavista Peninsula, and Newfoundland as a whole.
We look forward to what the future holds for the Skerwink Hostel and Team Skerwink!
The Skerwink Hostel August 2016