In happier days

Selling inn not an easy decision

Frederique Philips talks about some of the reasons why the Sooke Harbour House is on the market.

Last week it was announced that the Sooke Harbour House was for sale for $5.9 million. Now that it is out in the open it is easier for the owners to speak about the reasons why.

Frederique Philip, co-owner of the Sooke Harbour House said people should realize businesses are always up for sale at some point, and their decision was not an easy one.

Frederique, and her husband Sinclair, have owned the quaint inn on 2.5 acres for 33 years and a lot has happened to the family during that time — some personal, some unavoidable.

The current recession has put a lot of stress on the couple and while it may not be the best time to sell, they felt it was time to think about themselves. They did not want to be older with bad health.

“We looked at our life and stress is not good,” said Frederique. “Our children said we worked too much.”

For years the family devoted all of their time to the inn. They lived in the basement and put in long, long hours and lots of energy to make the inn successful. They have long supported the arts through hosting art shows and purchasing individual artists’ work which adorns the inn and the property. Frederique is a little piqued by the ease with which some businesses have gotten approvals and permits, the same hasn’t happened for the Sooke Harbour House over the years,

“I see all the things they (the district) has done for the Prestige and for 33 years they have been against us — it’s time to think about ourselves,” said Philip. “We would have enough to live comfortably and maybe I have 20 more years, if everything is good,” she said.

A large part of the community have been great supporters and others never recognized what the Philips did for the town. They always had to pay for things other businesses got. In the 33 years they have been in business they have brought millions of dollars into Sooke, says Philip. They want Sooke to thrive, they employ 50 employees they feel responsible for.

“I’m responsible for my mortgage and all my staffs’ mortgages.”

She said some people have put a negative spin on the fact they are selling the Sooke Harbour House but for them it is a positive move, and they will stay in Sooke — it’s their home.

Frederique has plans to do many incredible things, including perhaps a line of products for the Sooke Harbour House. There’s the fashion show in August, travel, family and other as yet unnamed projects.

Back in 2010 the Sooke Harbour House was valued at $8.75 and the Philips had to look at what was realistic in this current economic climate. The inn has been showered with rave reviews, awards and kudos and is considered by the critics to be one of the best small inns in the world. Sinclair Philip has consistently won Wine Spectator awards for their wine cellar and is one of the first to espouse the Slow Food Movement and 100 Mile Diet.

It all takes its toll and both Frederique and Sinclair have less energy than they used to have.

“It’s a relief in a way, I want to think more of me and my close family,” said Philip.

Real estate agent for the Philips’ Peter Berrill, who is currently in Europe said, “The business has done well for many years with a international reputation that reaches around the world. The value of the land and busines is well worth the asking price as a matter of fact we have had appraisals well in excess of $5,990,000 within the last two years. Sinclair and his wife have dedicated  their lives into creating this legend in Sooke. Now they are looking at all their options.”

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