B&B 7 year 'labour of love' for pair
Queenstown Times - Wednesday, May 26, 2010
BEARSDEN, Wakatipu's newest bed and breakfast, was a seven year "labour of love" for owners Margie Slattery Smith and Ned Smith. The couple bought the two bedroom bach on Lower Shotover Rd in October 2003 and have transformed it into luxury accommodation. Mrs Slattery Smith said the renovation provided a few challenges, which made the outcome even more rewarding. "It has taken a bit of time, but we did it in stages. Going upstairs three years ago was a major stage. Renovation is a builder's nightmare. You never knew what you were going to find. The walls weren't straight; the floors not level," she said. Designed by architect Mark Scaife, the house has been extended to a second storey. The couple have a bedroom and bathroom upstairs and two ensuite rooms for guests downstairs. The site previously housed the Millers' Flat Church, which was moved to the grounds of Arrowtown's St John's Church in the 1950s.
Built in the 1960s, the bach was in need of renovation when the couple moved in in 2003. "We had to live in the garage for a couple of months, but we did a lot of the renovation ourselves, ripping up carpets, painting, some joinery. I'm glad we took our time because as you progress you change your mind and get better ideas," she said. The outside was also redesigned, with decking, gravel and an outdoor fireplace and spa pool added. The couple had always wanted to run a B&B and bought land at Fernhill with the intention of building. However, with rising building costs they decided to sell the land and buy the old bach at Lower Shotover Rd when it came on the market for a "good price", Mrs Slattery Smith said.
"Having a B&B was always one of those things Ned and I wanted as a retirement package. We both enjoy meeting people and helping them enjoy the area," she said. They opened the rooms to guests and the website went live on April 2. She said they had more guests than expected, particularly for a shoulder season.
The most rewarding thing was getting good feedback from guests.
Their target market is couples who are independent travellers. The registered B&B has had a lot of inquiries through its link on Destination Queenstown's website. The couple also owns an underfloor heating business, Warm Up Southern Lakes, and a tiling business, Sticks and Stones.
They employ four staff and Mrs Slattery Smith does all the bookkeeping. She had previously worked as an area manager for Tourism Holdings Ltd and sales manager for Red Boat Cruises. She aimed to give her guests the option of personal attention.
"We want to give people a feel for the area because they are staying in our home," Mrs Slattery Smith said.
She also can give guests advice from her 25 years' experience in the ski industry. Australian born, Mrs Slattery Smith is a former ski instructor and has skied and worked in Australia, Canada, the United States, Europe as well as New Zealand. She moved to New Zealand in 1989 and immediately fell in love with Queenstown. "You can't beat Coronet Peak for variety, fun and consistently good snow conditions" if you know where to go.
The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone also have a lot to offer. It is fantastic that we have such a variety of ski areas to choose from right on our doorstep," she said. "Queenstown is like a little slice of Europe just over three hours' flight from Australia. When I first arrived, I was blown away. I couldn't believe I had waited so long to come here." The guest rooms at Bearsden have binoculars so people can open the curtains in the morning and enjoy an uninterrupted view of Coronet Peak.
"You can literally see the snow groomers working morning and night, and check out skiers and boarders making first tracks," she said.
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New boutique Queenstown accommodation provider comes with unique ski experience
Southern PR - May 2010
Like many boutique Queenstown ski lodges, Bearsden Bed & Breakfast boasts cosy and warm rooms, a supremely comfortable private lounge with roaring log fire and stunning views.
But what it has to offer that most don’t is 25 years of accumulated ski industry advice and experience from co-owner Margie Slattery-Smith, a former ski instructor who went on to spend many years as area manager for a major tourism company catering for visitors from all around the world.
Australian-born Margie has skied and worked in her home country and in Canada, USA, Europe and New Zealand, but she reckons you can’t beat Coronet Peak for variety, fun and consistently good snow conditions – if you know where to go.
“The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone also have a lot to offer and it is fantastic that we have such a variety of ski areas to choose from right on our doorstep,” she said.
“Queenstown is like a little slice of Europe just over three hours flight from Australia. When I first arrived I was blown away. I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to come here.”
Earlier this year Margie and husband Ned opened Bearsden B&B, a country-style home in a tranquil rural setting that’s still only minutes from Queenstown Airport and the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown.
“Each of the guest rooms at Bearsden has a set of binoculars so people can open the curtains in the morning and lie in bed with a completely uninterrupted full view up to Coronet Peak. You can literally see the snowgroomers working morning and night, and check out skiers and boarders making first tracks.
“Over an espresso coffee made from freshly ground beans, and a hearty home-cooked breakfast, I’m more than happy to go over snow reports and give our guests the ‘locals lowdown’ on the very best runs on the mountains and where they’ll find the powder pockets even after the main trails are tracked out. They may even tempt me to take them on a few of my favourite runs.
“There’ll be nothing more rewarding than having a couple of tired but happy people coming back after a great day on the slopes and watching them relax with a wine by the outside fireplace, making friends with our popular black lab Bruno, and planning the next day’s adventures.”
Bearsden Bed & Breakfast features two bedrooms, each with their own ensuite, and enjoys all-day sun. After a day on the slopes, guests can enjoy a glass of wine before slipping into the outdoor spa to check out the lights of Coronet Peak twinkling away under a starlit sky.
In the heart of the Southern Alps with views of both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski areas, Bearsden is also close to wineries, golf courses (Millbrook, The Hills and Arrowtown) and has leisurely walking and biking trails from the door.
The après-ski scene of Queenstown, with its cosmopolitan bars, restaurants and nightlife, is just a 15-minute scenic drive away, while nearby Arrowtown has everything from casual ‘pub’ dining to award-winning restaurants.
Bearsden owners Margie and Ned bought the property as an original two-bedroom Kiwi ‘bach’ in October 2003 and have transformed it into today’s comfortable, stylish and affordable luxury accommodation in what Margie describes as “an eight-year labour of love sprinkled with a few challenges, making the final outcome all the more rewarding.”
“Having only been open for a few months, the most rewarding thing is getting feedback from guests who have absolutely loved Bearsden and are happily recommending it to family and friends.”