John and Marion McEwing are the proud managers of Pavillions on 1770, a striking 4.5-star, architecturally designed luxury resort, located on the enchanting beachfront location between Agnes Water and the historic Town of 1770.
The peace and tranquillity of the resort; its fantastic climate, position and location are some of the many features that John and Marion found so appealing when they were looking to purchase the management rights back in 2010.
They had prior business management experience but were new to management rights and property management, coming from private and public sector management positions in New Zealand. John from an environmental science background and Marion in education (mainly tertiary) and training.
Strategically, they located themselves halfway between their two adult children, their daughter in Christchurch and their son in Perth. Marion told us: “It had always been part of the plan for us to move to sunny Queensland and run a business. Management rights allowed us to pool our strengths, work together and have a relatively stress-free life in a splendid beachfront resort. It has been a very positive and life-changing experience for us.”
John and Marion looked at a number of management rights before they decided on Pavillions on 1770. “Another important factor in purchasing Pavillions on 1770 was the manager’s residence, it is north facing, set apart and stand-alone from the complex,” Marion explained. This residence contrasted with the many small management units they had previously viewed.
“The standalone isolation of this residence has allowed us to enjoy our privacy, to breakfast and dine on our sunny balcony all year around. The setting is perfect, we face a reserve to the north and to the east we have a sea view and fall asleep to the sound of the sea,” she added.
Pavillions on 1770 was built in late 2006 and was developed by CKG Properties, designed by award-winning architects, Guymer Bailey Architects and the result is a “quality resort complex that is a one-off; a quality build on premium beachfront land that realistically could not be built today, due to limited beachfront land available and the cost of building”.
The business was handed over from a large corporation and according to Marion this was a challenge. “It was interesting and didn’t permit a smooth transition. We inherited forward bookings made at very low tariffs and a large number of free bookings that were not justifiable. Standard tariffs were set at low levels and we made an early decision to focus on quality and increase the tariffs, which has resulted in a significant lift in net profit,” she said.
As a first management rights experience, this one has been very rewarding, according to John, and has provided many learning opportunities. One was recognising the need to take a break! “It is important for us to take time away from the resort not just to recharge, but also to experience other resorts and service.
“Our achievements have included increasing the letting pool by almost 20 percent, developing a significant repeat guest database, building a great relationship with owners and getting them on board to make the necessary refurbishments,” John said.
A key outcome for them has been maintaining a quality standard in service and amenities resulting in award recognition as a quality resort by external agencies, including the Star Ratings Australia Gold Award, TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence, Hotels Combined Stellar Stays Award and Booking.com Award.
In terms of growing the business, Marion and John appreciate the importance of exceeding their guest’s expectations, and rather than take a ‘one-size fits all’ approach, they spend time with potential guests to ascertaining their needs and specific requirements.
Marion insisted: “We take time to build a relationship with our guests and we are dedicated to converting as many enquiries into a bookings as we can, customer relationship building is critical to success. We value our excellent and loyal staff and our core staff comprise: Meryl our receptionist, Fay and Kelly our housekeepers and Nick the gardener.”
What recommendations do they have for potential resort managers? John replied: “The old adage applies: location, location, location! Purchase in the best possible position – views and privacy are especially important to guests and assess the quality of the resort and facilities.
“When looking at a potential management rights, look beyond the façade and look closely at how well the building is maintained, the relationship with the body corporate, the sinking fund and whether the business has more upside for growth.”
John and Marion also offered some important tips for potential managers: make sure to get owners on board to refurbish and keep their apartments up to the standard that is expected. Invest significantly in your resort’s infrastructure and ensure quality wifi coverage throughout the resort. Work closely with your body corporate committee to implement a 10-year maintenance program.
Make sure that you always get feedback from your guests. Take energy efficient measures in common areas of the resort including motion sensor lighting in parking areas and LED lighting elsewhere. And landscape your gardens to reflect your environment.
Marion offered: “Most important - make sure you have the personality for this business! Only pursue if you are a people person with a flexible, customer focused, approach and are open to opportunities and challenges. You need to be business oriented and not be primarily driven by lifestyle.
“If you prefer your own company and are uncomfortable dealing with guests and owners you will not enjoy the management rights industry; conversely, if you enjoy hospitality and customer interaction you will love management rights.”
Marion and John are both definitely ‘people’ persons and really enjoy meeting guests, interacting with them and helping to ensure they have a wonderful stay. “Hearing guests say ‘we will be back!’ is very affirming”.
Repeat guests regularly comment that they feel like they are treated as family at Pavillions on 1770 and they recommend the resort to friends and family. Marion and John concluded: “Management rights is an enjoyable industry and has provided us with a healthy return on our investment.”