If you’ve been following our blogs, you’d know that we are trying to bring our Humble Beach Shack back to glory. We had researched in depth before we came up with our design and a plan for its execution. In this blog post we tell the stories behind our decor.
When we were property hunting in the peninsula for this holiday accommodation project, we saw many run down houses. Many of them were vacated by their retiree occupants before they headed to the nursery homes. Entering these houses is like stepping back in time. For many of the retirees, their children had left home for years. They lived in the same house with their partners until they were the last one to go. We saw rooms that hadn’t changed a bit since their children departed in the 80s, or even 70s. The beds are always neatly made, sometimes a bit dusty, frozen in time. The pictures on the walls tell their family stories.
These experiences added to our determinations to maintain the neighbourhood characteristics, and their stories. It is unfortunate that the property we have doesn’t come with its original decor nor furnitures. We therefore had to source them piece by piece. Ebay, Gumtree are often good sources; and of course the local antique shop. Sadly we cannot afford most antiques in the shop. We also don’t like the cheap remakes from Asia neither. Luckily we found some good offerings online, with lots of driving to many corners in Melbourne, we got a few good pieces. They were as humble as our old beach shack, all needing our tender love and care.
Here are a few pictures of us cleaning, polishing and preparing these items for display in our cottages. Enjoy.
If you’ve been following our blogs, Facebook or website, you might learn that we’re new to this business.
We didn’t believe that it’d take years of experience to make a bed well, and provide a comfy stay.
However it’d be difficult to do it consistently, and ultra difficult to meet every customer’s expectations.
I had been a long time consumer of bed and breakfast. I saw just as many poorly run places as the good ones. Experience of seeing a half eaten sandwich in the fridge, inaccurate advertising, poor response time, the list goes on. One of my friends claimed he saw an used condom under the pillow …. well.
Therefore I dreamed of offering a cozy place like your own home, with a hotel concierge service. What a dream!
No … it must be better than your own home, otherwise why have a holiday, we have to offer an experience… more on that later, about our decorations and renovations.
I must confess that I don’t make my bed everyday. How do I establish and mobilise a team to do their job to a very high standard, consistently?! Here my previous people management experience will add value. But we can’t do it just by ourselves.
We need to engage our customers, learning from the feedback, finding gaps and making plans to improve.
Before we put our cottages on the market, we spent many nights actually living there. I cannot remember the number of small trips I made to the stores, sourcing all the missing essentials. We also let groups of friends staying over, in return of their comments.
Ok ok, they paid the cleaning fees. But there is our time and effort put in, reacting upon all their comments and ideas.
Although we believe most rough corners had been polished. The effort must not stop here.
We must continue to listen, and we beg you to tell us. It’s not just because business lives on positive reviews, it’s because we must be proud of our offerings.
We will also continue learning. We understand that each of our customer’s complain is another disappointed holiday, NOTHING, NOTHING can replace it.
Therefore we take a positive from each of your comments.
An additional mirror outside bathroom to reduce your morning rush, done.
Additional quilts and electric blankets even in summer, done.
Drying rack for your beach clothing, done.
Clearer descriptions, done.
Many more and counting …
There is a story behind the sheets on our guest beds.
We once naively thought as soon as we can afford a quality 1000TC sheet, our guests would have a good night of sleep.
We thought we could wash them at home.
We were too naive too simple.
Once at a chain big brand hotel, I gave a strange look to the cleaning lady in the hallway. She thought I needed a towel or housekeeping. “May I look at your towels and sheets?” … “Do you wash them here or elsewhere?”
Of course she couldn’t tell me but I saw small leads here and there, allowing me to find a supplier, who taught me so much. Thanks Simba.
We also learnt lessons from the locals. Besides wanting to succeed together with the local business, there is so much to learn from. It’s the community spirit here in the peninsula. From the local laundry we learn the right fabric to use.
And of course, our new but fantastic housekeeping team, who was almost in tears trying to make a bed, like a 6 stars hotel, on the top bunk. Trust me, it isn’t easy. YouTube is often a great resource, we watch people making beds fast, 72 seconds for a queen bed in fact; and how to make it nice, folding the corners like a pro butler at The Four Seasons.
In the time being, please, please don’t hesitate telling us if our beds, sheets, quilts, etc can be more comfy, our shower glass can be shinier… Any comments / ideas / experience to share from elsewhere will also be so appreciated.
Many people love the Mornington Peninsula, the beaches, the people, the wine, the fruit and many good things. But what is one of the hidden DNAs behind all these, and your childhood beach memories?
To be honest, like many I migrated to Melbourne as a teenager, I had never built sand castles along our bay beaches. But there was an instant charm, unmistakably recognised and felt as I wonder around this neighbourhood. More importantly, would my kids and fellow generation x, y, whoever, feel the same?
I can go on and on why did I leave a well paid office job, become an entrepreneur and start all these. This will be a good read to put you to sleep. But when we choose to start a holiday home business in Mornington Peninsula; besides the fact that we love this place, want to create a product and add value to here, where should we start ?
What kind of product should we develop?
Frankly I lived in many places around the world, I saw fancy Hollywood stars occupied Malibu mansions, I had stayed in Waikiki beach condos. I see none of these as the charm behind our beaches.
We spent 6 months looking up and down the peninsula, we saw holiday parks, golf course properties, farm houses and many more. In deciding the product we’d develop, we go back to the fundamentals, the old beach shacks.
“These simple, informal shacks are not showy. Made of lightweight, often salvaged materials, they were unobtrusive”, according to Melbourne architect Sally Draper.
Here we go, instead of some flashy tasteless box cutting homes, we bought ourselves a project, a big one indeed. Many of these fibro beach shacks are hardly utilised, old, falling apart. The panels are often barely held together by their paint, of the 50s colouring scheme. You can poke through with your fingers by just pressing lightly.
But we weren’t afraid.
While the world is changing at internet speed, we don’t have the luxury of time neither. The essence is in our time to market.
We certainly didn’t want to cut corners too, not willingly anyway.
The result is what you can see today …. more on that later.