After her 18-year marriage ended and the technology company she worked with for 11 years was acquired, Jayne McCaw decided it was time for a fresh start.
She missed the cottage life and decided to downsize her Toronto home and buy a place on Lake Rosseau, about 200 kms north of the city.
“I grew up on Lake Huron and I was a big water skier and loved the cottage life; being on a lake had always been a part of me,” Ms. McCaw says.
While making the purchase, her real estate agent mentioned that the previous owners had rented it for $25,000 for July. “And I’m like, ‘are you kidding?’”
The next summer, Ms. McCaw rented the cottage for $5,000 a week. The following year, those guests returned and asked if she had any other cottages their friends could rent.
The third summer she rented out her cottage, Ms. McCaw used part of the proceeds to take her family on a trip to France.
“I was so worried. I wanted to have a really nice family trip but was going to a place that we knew nothing about,” she recalls.
Ms. McCaw booked a villa through a luxury rental agency and it turned out to be everything she could have hoped for: a personal chef, shopping and kayak tours, among many other amenities and activities. There was also a daily cleaning service and a personal concierge to see to their needs.
That experience turned out to be the inspiration for her business, Jayne’s Luxury Rentals. Ms. McCaw incorporated her company and, by 2015, quit her job to start renting luxury cottages in Muskoka full-time.
“I finally decided to do it,” she says of the career switch.
She started with three properties; then set up a booth at the Bala Cranberry Festival in Muskoka where she signed up another 10. Now in her seventh summer, she has approximately 250 properties in her rental inventory.
“I work directly with owners and make their property easy to rent. I take care of everything,” she says.
These properties aren’t rustic cabins on a lake: The average family vacation spend for a lakefront luxury cottage is $50,000. Her highest transaction was about $435,000 for the May-to-August period.
Guests are met by a personal concierge: They can also have to option to rent boats, take waterskiing lessons, hire a personal chef, or have their cottage stocked by her personal shoppers. The agency also provides high-end linens for the beds and luxury towels for the bathrooms. Even the pots and pans must pass muster.
“It’s sort of like a decentralized five-star hotel experience in a cottage,” Ms. McCaw says.
The business brings in about $20-million in annual revenue and has 75 employees, a third of whom work year-round. Ms. McCaw has had guests from as far away as China and Africa and, since the pandemic, a growing number from within Canada.
She has also expanded her listings to meet the rising Canadian demand. Jayne’s now also has a few properties in Toronto and has plans to add ones in Palm Beach Florida as well as Kelowna and Whistler, B.C.
“I created a luxury market that didn’t exist before,” she says. “And I have control of my life and I get to spend more time at my cottage.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Jaynes Cottages. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.