Chalets with a View on the Baie-des-Chaleurs
The Micmacs of Gesgapegiag purchased the Chalets de l’Anse Ste-Hélène in September 2017. Located on the outskirts of the Baie-des-Chaleurs (Chaleur Bay), the property includes six chalets, all of which were built in the early 2000s, and is located in Maria, just outside the boundaries of the Mi’gmaq community. This acquisition allowed the community to create five to six jobs for its members.
In the months that followed the purchase of the company, a lot of work was done to renovate the chalets and bring them up to date in compliance with environmental standards, the Construction Code, etc. Where possible, renovation contracts were entrusted to Gesgapegiag workers to support local businesses. Indoors, the floors were changed, the decor was completely redesigned, and so on. Outdoors, a new wooden porch, located near the road and leading to the chalets, was built and the roofs were replaced and are now a beautiful red, which allows the chalets to be seen from afar. The landscaping was completely redone and soon a charging station for electric cars will be installed. At the time of purchase, Gesgapegiag Tourism considered renaming the business, but after analysis, it was decided instead to give Mi’gmaq names to all the cottages, all of which refer to animals that live in the region. In addition, the chalet decors are reminiscent of Mi’gmaq culture.
In order to ensure better visibility for the company, the signage was also changed on the side of the road, which seems to be effective since some tourists stop in and even call from the parking lot to inquire about the chalets. One of the chalets in particular is drawing a lot of attention: it is a replica of Grande Hermine, which was Jacques Cartier’s ship. The former owner of the Chalets de l’Anse Ste-Hélène was passionate about history and boats and he built this chalet himself. At the time of purchase, the ship chalet was located on the shore, but to comply with regulations, it had to be moved and it is now placed next to the other chalets. Since it is visible from the road, people stop to take a picture, and this happens even more often when they are accompanied by children. Just like the other chalets, the ship chalet is equipped with a complete kitchen and a living room as well as Internet access.
Taking advantage of the experiences of communities and organizations
A few months after acquiring the Chalets de l’Anse Ste-Hélène, the Gesgapegiag Tourism team travelled to Essipit to meet with the community’s economic development director, Mr. Marc Genest. Since the Innu community has been active in the tourism industry for many years, they were able to benefit from Mr. Genest’s experience and advice in this area. Among the advice provided was to work with the Hotello software to manage chalet rentals which greatly facilitated their work. They also joined Glampsource, a site that showcases unique accommodation sites. They are also members of Tourisme Québec, Tourisme Gaspésie and Tourisme Baie-des-Chaleurs, which helps to increase their visibility even more at the regional and international levels.
A very positive occupancy rate
All the changes made seem to have paid off, as reflected by the occupancy rates of the chalets. Between August 2018 and August 2019, the chalet occupancy rates increased by approximately 30%. In terms of revenues, between June 2018 and June 2019, they increased by 147%! The last few months indicate that this trend should continue in 2019-2020. As the chalets are posted on various online rental sites, they are mainly rented by Quebecers, but also by visitors from as far away as Australia, to the great astonishment of the community members. With the development of winter tourism in the Gaspé Peninsula, which is becoming increasingly popular, the use of the chalets should only increase.
To discover other local economic development projects and initiatives, we invite you to visit our local economic development section.