THE SHORT STORY
Beginning 1 August 2017, Sean's Guesthouse is going to be no more.
I'm going to be closing my door (there's just one into this home), and I'll no longer be taking reservations extending beyond the 31st July 2017.
I will still be guiding my intimate northern light chasing tours, and I really believe they're going to have an even better feel, be more intimate, more cosy, and even more dedicated than ever before, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to talk more about that. Scroll down for more on where I'm going there.
The Embleton House - run by Ken and Faith, who are absolutely lovely, their place is cosy and situated right downtown. If you're lucky, you might be able to grab a little self contained suite equipped with a kitchenette. This is my favourite recommendation. They're authentically sweet and have been dedicated to thriving in hospitality.
The Sunshine B&B - Sonny and his wife are down in old town, which means you can enjoy beautiful lake views right from their place. The rooms are definitely comfortable and there's a very nice common space for you to enjoy also.
Arctic Chalet B&B - Lona has a beautiful and quiet space located across town. It isn't with the same location convenience as the Embleton House or Sunshine B&B, but it's a wonderful place.
One thing to be aware of as you search for accommodation in Yellowknife is that the only tax you should be paying is our national 5% GST. There is no territorial tax here, and there is no "city tax" or accommodation tax, which at least one new bed & breakfast is claiming and charging.
THE LONG STORY
This is something I've th(f)ought and felt long and hard about.
The overwhelming love and appreciation I feel for each of you having come stayed with me, opening your hearts to this little guesthome and my life is something I will forever carry with me. You have humbled me, and I feel so gracious to you for that. I couldn't have dreamt of more, when two years ago, I decided I was moving my life to Yellowknife to begin two businesses I had no experience or schooling in, but you took care of me in ways that aren't possible to describe. And I cannot say thank you enough to each of you for that. Even still, all of you wishing to come and stay with me next aurora season, I'm genuinely humbled by your desire and thought, and it breaks my heart a little having to say no now.
When I moved to Yellowknife in May of 2015, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I'll always remain thankful for that, because if I had known the amount of work involved in running two businesses alone, I probably wouldn't have done it. Ignorance was my bliss. I knew soon that this lifestyle of operating northern light tours each evening, and a near 100% occupancy two bedroom guesthouse was one of the most beautiful I could have dreamt of, but I also began to understand a lifestyle is only a lifestyle if it's sustainable, which this just wasn't for me.
What I often used to talk myself through this decision was this... 'If I kept the guesthouse, and gave up the tours, or did them less, would I feel at peace with that?" And the answer was very strongly no, with significant anxiety. I would still want to go chase the lights each night regardless. So it became obvious that some heartbreak over giving up the guesthouse was the better feeling option to a constant anxiety of no longer selfishly chasing/guiding aurora viewing tours.
There are other things that of course factor into moving on from my guesthouse, the biggest of which is the rise of unregulated and unlicensed accommodation in Yellowknife - Airbnb. Before I even arrived in Yellowknife in May of 2015, I was spending weeks which turned into months, neck deep, in licensing red tape and various codes the city had set out for me to meet in order to be able to open a bed & breakfast accommodation in Yellowknife. At that time, there were 21 unlicensed options on Airbnb. Today, under two years later, there is 96, and the City of Yellowknife is still taking their never ending 'wait and see' approach to this situation that they'd rather just bury their heads into the sand about. Residing (ha!) on the losing end of this situation has made me feel great resistance about Airbnb and hospitality. I whole-heartedly know there is a difference between people who are giving their lives to hospitality, making it not just their career, but their life, and those looking for the instant gratification of an extra $75 income per night. Ultimately, my desire to feel good is stronger than my desire to be 'right', which is why I'm giving up a bit of an internal battle in the licensed accommodation vs. Airbnb saga Yellowknife is seeing.
The other is how long you continually keep the front door open for at -30°C when you come and go. Just kidding, you've been wonderful about helping me save heat too. Thank you xoxo.
This is where I'm really getting excited! I mean, really, really excited.
I've loved my Ford Flex. She's been the perfect... vehicle... to this dream of chasing the aurora with four of you each night the last two years, but I'm really ready for something more. Something that enables more of you to be with me each evening, while maintaining the cosiest of environments, and the most intimate of moods while I can thrive and sustain myself doing what I genuinely love more than anything else.
Beginning 1 August, I'm going to be guiding my aurora chasing tours in a 2016 Ford Transit - with a roof high enough for us all to stand up inside in, and spread out across a few extra seats. Think six or seven guests in a nine passenger configuration. You're going to be more comfortable for those nights of long drives chasing clear skies, while you'll have plenty of space inside to hang out, chat about the beautiful myths of the aurora, and indulge in my girlfriend's never ending supply of creative baking accompanied by your own personal thermos for the night with the warm drink of your choice. We're going to be under the lights longer - expect earlier pick-ups and later drop-offs, back in the city somewhere between 2:15 and 4am. I can't wait for August, and I really hope you'll be with me!