An interview with Jen Cook and John Lott of H2O Getaways in Quinte West.
Pronouns: Jen (she/her), John (he/him)
Briefly describe your business.
H2O Getaways is a boutique houseboat rental company, the first of its kind to operate along the lower half of the Trent-Severn Waterway, from Lock 1 in Quinte West, Ontario to Lock 21 in Peterborough, Ontario. We have reimagined, redesigned and renovated our boutique houseboats to include creature comforts such as upscale linens, bedding and towels, as well as modern amenities such as bow and stern thrusters creating a safe, stress-free, rejuvenating escape.
What brought you to the region?
We were both working in the entertainment industry, and with ailing parents on the far side of Prince Edward County, Quinte West was the perfect location to be available to our parents and still be close enough to commute to Toronto when required. We’ve been happy BoQ’ers ever since.
What makes the Bay of Quinte a good fit for your business?
The Bay of Quinte is conveniently located between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, making it ideal for our business. Including the Trent-Severn Waterway, the BoQ offers access to more than 1,200 km of waterfront peppered with cities, towns, nature and history, all of which can be explored while on a boutique houseboat rental with H2O Getaways.
What was the hardest thing about starting a business?
STARTING during COVID. Borrowing a phrase from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
Connect with other entrepreneurs! Ask for help when you need it. The community is extremely welcoming and supportive.
How have you changed your operations during the pandemic?
Starting up during the pandemic allowed us to design our systems with COVID restrictions and regulations in mind, such as extra cleaning, allowing limited capacity and meeting people outside instead of in an office.
What is something good that has come from this difficult situation (the pandemic)?
We love our new business and may not have created it otherwise. Our original careers in the entertainment industry were decimated due to COVID-19. This led us to looking for a new career that would allow us to work together, offer the opportunity to entertain and still fulfill our love of the outdoors and boating along the Trent-Severn Waterway. Welcome to H2O Getaways!
If you were to have one word tattooed on you, what would it be?
John – Canadian
Jen – Joy