Wedderburn weekender a winner

Published on 17 December 2015

Photo caption: Bruce and Michelle Hargreaves are happy to share a story or two with guests visiting their boutique accommodation.

Tourists considering a weekend getaway in Wedderburn are in for a real treat when they stay at KurracaBurN Heights boutique accommodation.

The boutique guest accommodation, located in one of the town’s most historic buildings, scored at the highest level when a mystery shopper from Edge Insights market research snuck into town recently.

Loddon Shire Council Tourism Manager Robyn Vella said KurracaBurN Heights scoring an overall 92 out of 100 was indicative of the quality accommodation options available to visitors to Loddon Shire.

“While the majority of towns within Loddon Shire are close enough to Melbourne to cater for day trippers, many visitors are so taken with the region that they will want to stay longer,” she said.

“Having independently qualified first class boutique accommodation options across the municipality makes that an attractive proposition.”

Ms Vella said Edge Insights was a well respected field research company which operated right across Australia.

“The company specialises in government, tourism and hospitality sectors, conducting face to face, boots on the ground market research and counts iconic tourism destinations such as the Sovereign Hill, the Sydney Opera House and Choice Hotels, among their clients.”

Michelle Hargreaves owns, manages and resides in KurracaBurN Heights, alongside her husband, Bruce.

She said their dream to transform the former bush nursing hospital and child health service into a home, with accompanying boutique accommodation, was given a little encouragement.

“Loddon Shire’s Tourism Manager Robyn Vella, pushed our dream along to get accommodation ready for the influx of guests arriving in the town for the 2011 Great Victorian Bike Ride,” Mrs Hargreaves said.

“The mystery shopper result provides recognition that several years on, we’re on the right track, but our work is not done.”

“While we’re pleased with the mystery shopper survey results, they showed there was some room for improvement in social media and website access which we’ll certainly fine tune.”

“There’s always room for improvement and constructive criticism is good because it helps guide which areas to focus our attention on.”

“The experience has also prompted the idea to introduce a feedback form in the guest rooms so we can continue to meet, and hopefully exceed, customer satisfaction.”

Mrs Hargreaves said it appeared they were passing their love of hosting guests onto the younger members of the family.

“I’m usually home to welcome our guests, but unbeknown to us, the person who ended up being our mystery shopper wanted earlier access to the property.”

“I explained I’d still be at work but our 15 year old daughter, Tahlia, could welcome them.

“I’m really pleased we drilled into our children how to greet guests nicely, introduce them to the facilities, settle them in and find out if there’s anything in particular they need!”

Mrs Hargreaves said it was heart-warming to see a love of the historical property passed on through the generations.

“My husband and his father, Ted, are builders, and over the years they carried out a number of renovations on the building while it was still operating as a bush hospital and child health service.”

“On one occasion which springs to mind, Bruce needed to match tiles for some home improvements and discovered he still had tiles stashed away from work he carried out on the building back in 1982.”

“Another time we found an old hammer of Ted’s, complete with his initials on it, under some old floorboards.”

Mrs Hargreaves said her husband was born in the hospital he eventually came to reinvent, her father in law, Ted,was on the hospital board for many years, and she frequented the building on many occasions as a mother of small children.

“It was important for us to retain some of the original features to honour the heritage of the building, while at the same time providing an interesting talking point for guests.”

“Although you do have a few curly moments, such as the odd occasion in the early days when we’d have someone arrive looking for the doctor!”

”It really is quite a special place to call home, and welcome guests to, and our children still find it quite novel to let people know their parents sleep in the former surgery, while they each have rooms in what once served as a  delivery room, nursery, outpatients and x-ray development room and general ward.”

“We’ve certainly shared a few good stories and had many a good laugh.”