This article is part of the Journal’s special section “Women in Business,” which celebrates modern career women on the island.
Inspired by the unique and gorgeous variety of affordable lodging options Juniper Maas-Mercer found while traveling abroad, including locations throughout South America and East Africa, she realized the San Juan Islands needed a new kind of place to lay your head.
“I really felt we needed a fresh approach that was economical,” said Maas-Mercer, and that concept of a one of a kind, beautiful and affordable place to stay has been her niche since 2004. Juniper Lanes Guest House, located on Beaverton Valley Road, a mere 1.3 miles from Friday Harbor, is what she describes as a boutique inn. Junipers Lane consists of five rooms and a two bedroom cabin. Maas-Mercer has only fluctuated the cost approximately $25 during the last 14 seasons.
“I would rather work harder and be full, than charge more,” she said.
As a result, travelers have returned again and again to Juniper Lane. The comments people have written in her guestbook occasionally left her teary-eyed, Maas-Mercer said, reflecting their stay far surpassed their expectations, not to mention rave reviews from travel books and articles.
Being a woman in the hospitality industry has not been without its challenges. One of the biggest lessons she has learned is saying no.
“In the beginning, when I was younger, I use to say yes to everything, and there were people who took advantage of that,” she said, adding that as a businesswoman, you can only be so accommodating.
The last few years, her challenge has been raising her now three-year-old son while managing her inn.
“Sean [her husband] is a great help of course,” Maas- Mercer said, but it has been hard work. Fortunately, those who stay with her have been more than understanding.
“People that are attracted to this place tend to be really grounded and understanding,” she said, noting that for example, if she has to email customers their receipt because her toddler needs her attention, no one complains.
Looking to the future, Maas-Mercers says she will continue fixing up the property and current structures on it, as well as maintaining the inn’s current reputation.
“We have big dreams and visions for the property,” she said, noting that it will tricky finding the right time, squeezed somewhere between the end of busy season, before winter weather hits, and after their son begins school, which is still a few years away.
Having grown up in Friday Harbor, both Maas-Mercer and her husband, hold a special place in their hearts for the islands and islanders.
For locals looking for lodging for loved ones, Maas-Mercer mentions that she offers a wonderful local discount.
“I have really been blessed to be able to have a business and raise my son here, and meet all the amazing people that stay with us,” she said.
For more information visit the Juniper Lane Guest House website at juniperlaneguesthouse.com.