Open for busi­ness

First book­ings flow in for Pre­mier Mill ho­tel.

Great Southern Herald - - Front Page - Saskia Adysti

The his­toric Katan­ning Pre­mier Mill Ho­tel of­fi­cially opened this week.

Af­ter six years of plan­ning and ren­o­va­tion, the 127-year-old Katan­ning flour mill has been trans­formed into a 22-room bou­tique ho­tel and has become one of re­gional WA’s finest lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions.

The project was the brain­child of Nigel Oakey, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Dome cafe group.

Mr Oakey, who spent many years work­ing in the Great South­ern be­fore the project, said there was some­thing about the Katan­ning flour mill build­ing that made it ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“This is a unique build­ing in a unique com­mu­nity, in a unique part of WA that I think has been un­der­ex­posed to the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion for a long time,” he said.

“We wanted to do some­thing spe­cial and to do some­thing spe­cial, we need a unique place.”

Mr Oakey em­ployed well-known Fre­man­tle ar­chi­tect direc­tor Michael Pa­troni to de­sign the ho­tel and its un­der­ground wine bar known as the “The Cor­dial Bar”.

Through­out the project, Mr Pa­troni re­tained the flour’s mill in­dus­trial feel and vin­tage ma­chin­ery, which was en­hanced by her­itage fea­tures and a dis­tinc­tive stair­way.

He also re­paired some of the mill ma­chin­ery and made it into a mov­ing fea­ture along the ho­tel cor­ri­dor to re­mind each guest of the orig­i­nal func­tion of the build­ing. On top of that, Mr Oakey de­vel­oped an in­ter­ac­tive app for guests to use and see what the build­ing looked like be­fore its mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar ren­o­va­tion.

By down­load­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion guests can wan­der around the ho­tel and ob­serve the trans­for­ma­tion in real life through their smart­phone.

The three-storey, elec­tricpow­ered mill was built by mer­chant, agri­cul­tur­ist and politi­cian Fred­er­ick Henry Piesse in 1891.

It be­came the cen­tre­piece of a flour­ish­ing town, ef­fec­tively born with the ar­rival of the Great South­ern rail line in 1899. The mill op­er­ated un­til 1977. It was a tourist cen­tre for a while but had been empty for years.

Mr Oakey, who is also manag­ing direc­tor of Dome’s par­ent com­pany Be Our Guest Hol­i­days, hopes the Pre­mier Mill Ho­tel is the first in a se­ries of “ex­pe­ri­en­tial tourism de­vel­op­ments” his com­pany is in­volved in with her­itage and storytelling at its core.

As the Katan­ning and Northam Dome pro­jects come to a close, Mr Oakey said con­struc­tion of the Nar­ro­gin Dome would start next year.

“We see these three venues bring­ing a new era of tourism into the Wheat­belt and cre­at­ing a new trail from the Avon through to the Great South­ern,” Mr Oakey said.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Pre­mier Mill Ho­tel visit the ho­tel’s web­site at pre­mier­mill­ho­tel.com.

Pic­tures: Saskia Adysti

Dome group chief ex­ec­u­tive Nigel Oakey.

The rooms with orig­i­nal tim­bers.

The im­pres­sive in­te­rior.

Book­ings can now be made.

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