Part of the Shores & Islands Ohio Like a Local series – Meet Amy Hoffman
S&IO: Tell us about your business.
Amy: The Cottages at the Water’s Edge is a family vacation property just west of downtown Vermilion, along the shores of Lake Erie. The first cottages were built in the 1930s and now we have 16 cottages. The cottage property has grown and changed over the years.
Our family first got into this business in 1953. Ida & Louis Miller (Ida is my mother-in-law’s grandmother) owned and managed Miller’s Sandy Beach, with nine cottages at this location from 1953-1963. From 1963-1985, Frank and Helen Simon ran these cottages as Sy Sands Beach. They added indoor plumbing, kitchenettes, and patios during their time here. In 1985, Dave and Therese Hoffman (my in-laws) bought the property from them. Frank and Helen were Therese’s aunt and uncle. In 1989, Dave and Therese expanded to the east and in 2013 to the west which doubled the lakefront, they renamed the property Cottages at the Water’s Edge when they made the first expansion. In 2019, my husband Paul and I moved into the house on the property by the road, named Stop 141.
I run the day-to-day business of taking reservations, marketing the property, and caring for guests. Dave and Therese are still involved in the upkeep and beautification of our property.
S&IO: What makes the Shores & Islands region a good location for your business?
Amy: The cottages were originally established because of the demand for a place to stay along Lake Erie. Having four hundred ft. of a beautiful lakefront view with a beach is a draw for guests.
Our region is welcoming for families, whether you are going to the amusement park, having a beach day, or looking to spend some time in downtown Vermilion.
S&IO: Anything exciting or new planned for the 2023 season?
Amy: In the spring of 2022, we added a large back deck to the cottage that looks out over the lake. This new deck became a favorite hangout spot for guests staying in this cottage. In the winter of 2022-2023, we completed upgrades to Cottage 9, including new siding and windows. We look forward to sharing our off-season upgrades with guests in the 2023 summer season.
S&IO: What is your favorite thing about living and working in the Shores & Islands Ohio region?
Amy: I am from a medium-sized town in southern Indiana just across the river from Louisville, Kentucky. Since college, I’ve also lived in South Carolina and Montana, and done quite a bit of traveling. What I love about living, working, and exploring in the Shores & Islands Ohio region is that while we have all the amenities of being close to major cities, but we still have the welcoming and involved communities you get as a benefit of being in a small town. Vermilion is the lovely place on the lake that it is thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who pour their hearts into the town. These volunteers take care of over 80 flower gardens, container plantings, and hanging baskets throughout the year. It is our volunteers who plan and execute numerous events, art displays, and markets year-round.
S&IO: Where/how do you find your Lake Erie Love?
Amy: I find my Lake Erie Love in learning about the history of the people who came before us; whether that is from studying the cottage history that we have summarized in a 4 in. binder at our house, or from going on a historic walking tour put on by Main Street Vermilion volunteers. The more I learn about this area, our property, and those who were here years ago, the more I appreciate what we have today.
S&IO: If you had friends visiting from out of town, where would you take them?
Amy: When we have friends and family visit from out of town, we always take them to downtown Vermilion. There are so many beautiful shops, plenty of artwork both for public viewing and for purchase, and wonderful places to eat.
We also spend time hanging out in our backyard (we live at the Cottages at the Water’s Edge) and enjoy playing yard games, searching for beach glass, watching the sunset, and roasting marshmallows over the community fire pit.
S&IO: Perch or pizza? Where is your favorite place for either?
Amy: Pizza! I love the Local Dude pizza from Woodstock Café and my husband Paul loves picking up pizza and pie from Papa Joe’s to eat at home by the lakefront.
S&IO: Lake or land? Would you prefer spending time on the water or by the shore?
Amy: A little of both! I love looking for beach glass and dipping my toes in the water. Once the water warms up a little in July and August, floating in the water is a pretty great way to stay cool.
S&IO: Anything else to add regarding how to enjoy the region “like a local?”
Amy: I recommend stopping by Main Street Vermilion and the Shores & Islands Welcome Centers (in Sandusky and Port Clinton) to get information and local tips on where to go, what to do, and where to eat. These are also great places to find out about upcoming events and festivals, farmers markets, and more!