Gabriel and Luke Fisher are returning home to Newfoundland to take over the family business — Luke from next door, Gabriel from across the country.
The brothers are the sons of John and Peggy Fisher, who opened the Fishers’ Loft Inn in Port Rexton on the Bonavista Peninsula. With their parents transitioning out of day-to-day operations, Luke and Gabriel are assuming the management of the 33-room inn, which reopens for the season next month with a new conference centre.
Luke has moved back to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia, where he had most recently been working in the film industry, while Gabriel has come back from British Columbia and his career in the resort industry on Canada’s West Coast.
“I based myself out of Halifax for 13 years, my wife and I, and we just decided after she got pregnant that we were going to make a change,” said Luke.
“The film industry, obviously, is a very time-consuming business and had me away from home a
fair bit, so we just made the decision that we were going to move to rural Newfoundland, because
we thought it’d be a better place to bring up children.”
Gabe says he was just tired of British Columbia.
“I really missed home, is the main reason I moved back. I love Newfoundland, so that’s really what drew me back,” he said.
He said his parents have been slowly pulling back from the “front lines” of the operation over the last couple of years. Luke and Gabe are assuming management of the inn.
“We felt as though Newfoundland was lacking in the executive conference centre situation,” he said. “There’s stuff in the big hotels in St. John’s, but the conference centre provides a unique experience for people who want a conference. It’s a nice, bright, wide-open space.
Typically conference centres can be shoved in the basement of a hotel with no windows to the outside, and we went with the polar opposite of that and made sure it’s got nice 10-foot ceilings in it, big windows, nice front veranda doors that open out on to a deck that’s a got a fantastic view, looking over Trinity Bay.
The inn reopens officially May 1, but the new conference centre had a soft opening last summer so staff could work out any kinks.
“We hosted five conferences last year. We didn’t charge for the space; it was just to get a sense of how it all works,” said Luke. “We’ve done a lot of research around this conference centre to make sure that it’s state-of-the-art.”
The 7,000-square-foot centre, begun in early 2011 and overseen by Luke, cost more than a million dollars, and can host conferences of up to 70 people — and functions such as reunions and weddings with up to 200 people — with audio-visual service, video conferencing and wireless access.
The Fishers are hoping that executive conferences are attracted to the region and the setting of rural Newfoundland, as opposed to St. John’s. So far, things are promising, said Luke.
“Without us doing much marketing — we’ve just begun marketing — we’ve already got 10 conferences booked for this summer and two family reunions,” he said.