July marks the first anniversary of Mark and Kerrie Street becoming the resort managers of Sun Lagoon Resort Noosa, and what a year it has been! Resort News took the opportunity to catch up with them to find out what a difference a year makes.
Mark and Kerrie’s story: take one perfectly located but slightly 80s Noosa resort, add two wonderfully enthusiastic and highly motivated managers and we have an interesting tale…
Fifteen years ago, Kerrie, a bookkeeper from Melbourne, moved to Brisbane where she met boat builder Mark. They moved to Cairns where Mark began working for several body corporate managers and Kerrie in her own bookkeeping business. Kerrie looked after the financials and Mark with maintenance, sparking an interest in management rights. After talking to managers and studying the business, they decided that this business was an avenue they wanted to pursue, so looked at Cairns but were eventually drawn to Noosa, where Mark had previously enjoyed some happy times.
In April 2015, they spent a week on the Sunshine Coast where Barry Davies from RMS showed them some resorts, including Sun Lagoon Resort. They both loved the latter at the time but it was removed from the market before they could make an offer, much to their disappointment. They went back to Cairns, a little deflated, and decided to sell up so they could return to Noosa to be in the best financial position possible in order to buy.
Meanwhile, they continued to research the market and stay in touch with RMS who also put them in contact with Barry Muller, from Catalina Finance for financial advice. In November 2015, they moved to the Sunshine Coast with their dog Razzie, found that Sun lagoon Resort was back on the market and immediately made an offer. After some hard negotiations (many thanks to RMS and Barry Muller for their advice and skills), they officially became the resort’s new managers July 1, 2016.
Sun Lagoon Resort sits on the water at Noosa Sound with direct river access and an onsite pontoon; it is surrounded by parks, a tennis court, and the local ferry terminal. Being just a flat 15-minute stroll to iconic Hastings St, Noosa’s National Park, and Noosaville it facilitates the dream holiday.
The complex of 30 units is divided into three buildings; one of the first resorts in the area 35 years ago but the design is still innovative today. Thought to be one of the first collaborations between then young architects John Mainwaring and Gabriel Poole, each unit was built around a light well, providing every room with a window and daylight to the secure basement car park.
The resort presents spacious two and three-bedroom split level apartments, running the depth of the building with a balcony front and back in two of the buildings, there is enviable light and space throughout and the design ensures that the comfortably appointed apartments capture even the subtlest breeze. The complex has two swimming pools: one for the kids, with a waterfall and the main heated pool, also a spa and sauna. A full-size tennis court is for hire and guests are loving the newly refurbished large communal barbeque area.
It was remarkable that the previous owner had single-handedly managed this large resort for 10 years. Kerrie remarked: “I do not know how she did it on her own, as it is definitely a two-person job! The previous owner had kept the resort ticking along nicely but we wanted to sweep the property with a new broom and start how we meant to go on. As a team, we focused on a plan to improve many aspects of the property and business, but our first step was to clean up the resort, and to complete all those jobs that were unfinished.”
Although the property had an external paint job several years ago it still requires some TLC, this is something they knew they could bring to the resort.
Despite, and because of, its need for an update, Mark and Kerrie fell in love with this resort: a top location, beautiful aspect, and extra-large older style apartments that offer unbeatable family holiday accommodation. However, they were also savvy enough to recognise the great development potential and exciting business opportunities on offer.
“We are working with committee on plans for the renovation of the front of the building and are hoping to expand this through to the back of the resort to enhance all of its great facilities. Once the ideas are developed we look forward to putting them into fruition,” said Mark.
There are many new owners and committee members who feel the same way about the resort and are keen for improvements to be made. “It is important for us all to be on the same page,” Kerrie told us. “Alongside cleaning up the resort and plans for renovation we have stripped down the old website, updated photos and re-marketed the resort. We have also revamped and updated our online, social media presence.”
Friendly, chatty, and exuberant, Kerrie is a people person. She is the one who meets and greets guests, not just managing reception but owning her responsibility for guest happiness. “For me, it’s all about putting our guests first and ensuring that when they leave, they take happy memories with them.” A bookkeeping background ensures that Kerrie also maintains a tight hold on the business/finance side of things and she admits that she is very motivated to make improved profits for her owners.
Mark is more practical “handy” and makes a huge effort to enhance the resort’s many attributes and facilities. The improvements over the past year have been noticed and the resort has been complimented widely on how clean and well maintained this fantastic property now looks.
Mark advised: “We knew that we had found a great resort with huge potential for growth, we had done our research and felt very prepared but when we actually took over as managers we realised that we still had plenty to learn. So, for those considering the purchase of management rights, take note: success will only follow if you work hard for your owners and satisfy your guests. This can be a fantastic industry if you have the right attitude and appreciate the reality that 30 units that are equal to 30 individual investments - all reliant on the manager to bring the money in.”
Kerrie added: “Before you start looking at resorts to buy, get yourself and your finances prepared, put all your eggs in one basket so that you can fully focus on the job in hand.”
Kerrie and Mark are happy to be part of the resort industry and they have been able to attend a couple of local networking events. However, they have been very busy with their resort and haven’t had much time to socialise as much as they would like within the industry.
Their focus right now is on their people: keeping their owners happy and ensuring that guests leave the resort with only good memories of a fabulous Sun Lagoon Resort holiday experience.
Mandy Clarke - Resort Publishing