Cedars Inn, Zeballos. (Contributed photo)

Historic hotel and only restaurant in remote Zeballos considers shutting its doors

Cedars Inn unsure about future after series of financial catastrophes, COVID-19 induced tourism dip

The only hotel and restaurant combination in remote Zeballos has found itself on the edge of extinction.

A series of unfortunate events, starting with the 2018 wildfires, continuing through Western Forest Products’ eight-month-long strike, and culminating in the recent pandemic has hurt Cedars Inn to the point where ownership is considering shutting its doors. According to co-owner Christina Lepore, the village’s sole restaurant, Blue Heron — operated by hotel staff — would also cease operations.

In 2018 the hotel was among the properties under an evacuation order for seven months due to the wildfire and landslides that hit Zeballos. The closure cost about $500,000, said Lepore. This year as cancellations poured in due to COVID-19, the financial loss stands at $150,000.

READ MORE : Firefighters “beat down” flames outside of Zeballos

With all the setbacks, Lepore felt she was “going backwards” business-wise. Despite the relief offered for small businesses by the federal and provincial governments, Lepore felt that it still did not “fix the situation” of her business, primarily because of tourism’s uncertain future.

“It’s too risky to be in tourism now,” she said. “I refuse to take loans if I can’t pay it back.”

Built in 1936 during the peak of the gold rush that help establish the town, the hotel, which was previously a hospital, still retains designs from an era gone by.

Lepore and her husband, Dan O’Connor, bought it in 2003, when it was called Mason Motor Lodge and was the only hotel in town. The 15-room facility usually has full occupancy during summer, with September being its busiest month.

During these months, tourism churns the economic wheels in Zeballos. Most of the clientele comes from the U.K., Europe and the U.S. International tour companies usually book a two-week trip for tourists consisting of lodging at Cedars Inn, meals at the Blue Heron, followed by kayaking and wildlife expeditions.

“Unless a vaccine is developed, I don’t see international tourism picking up,” said Lepore.

Even though Blue Heron is the only restaurant in Zeballos, the customer base from within the village is very small.

“Keeping the restaurant open for two or three people costs more money,” she said.

While future plans are still fluid, Lepore said she is considering turning the building into long-term rental suites.

A couple of bookings still remain for September from people in the vicinity, and with plans to re-open B.C. underway, Lepore wants to wait and see if local tourism might still be able to save the hotel this summer.

CoronavirusTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(BLACK PRESS FILE PHOTO)
Nanaimo man killed in Highway 4 crash

RCMP say dirt bike turned ‘suddenly’ into traffic

Nanaimo RCMP arrest man with axe in downtown park. (File photo)
Man seen with axe at Nanaimo park, numerous RCMP officers respond

Incident happened Friday evening at Maffeo Sutton Park

Nanaimo Track and Field club member Olivia Lundman set a Canadian record in the U18 3,000-metre race walk event at meet in Kamloops this past weekend. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo Track and Field Club race walker sets national record at her first meet of the season

Olivia Lundman breaks 30-year-old mark in U18 3,000-metre race walk

BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson on the campaign trail. (Submitted photo)
BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson clarifies position on climate change

Paterson calls human activity a ‘contributing’ factor and says climate change must be addressed

Bouquet to the person who sent the beef about the rude couple at the fast food restaurant. I want to say a huge thank you for standing up for that poor person who had to endure their bullying. That couple would be my father and his girlfriend. It’s about time someone told them off.
Beefs & Bouquets, Oct. 21

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Candidates in the Nanaimo riding include Kathleen Jones, B.C. Liberal Party, top left; Sheila Malcolmson, NDP; Lia Versaevel, Green Party. (Photos submitted/News Bulletin photo/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding include Chris Istace, B.C. Green Party, top left; Duck Paterson, B.C. Liberals; and Doug Routley, NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Rotary Centennial Garden at Maffeo Sutton Park. (Sean Fenzl photo)
New Rotary garden officially open at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park

Rotary Centennial Garden design inspired by the shoreline

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Most Read