Home away from home in Matamata
A welcoming attitude towards travellers is attributed to a Matamata accommodation provider winning several awards from a travel website.
Chestnut Lane Cottage has been voted number one in New Zealand in the bed and breakfast and inn section as part of the Trip Advisor’s 2015 travellers’ choice awards. It also gained first place in the South Pacific and eighth in the top 10 in the world.
Hosts Kathleen and John Day said the personal touch, caring for their guests’ needs and not treating the guests as just a number is what helped them stand out.
They advise other bed and breakfasts to listen to your guests. ‘‘Some people are like ‘ breakfast is at this time, this is what you’re going to get’ but I’ll ask them what time they would like their breakfast, what they would like and I cater for their needs and dietary requirements,’’ Kathleen said.
The couple also try and make their guests feel at home.
‘‘That’s what most people say in reviews, that it feels like a home away from home.’’
They also advise perceptive.
‘‘If they have just come off the plane and have travelled a long time, leave them alone,’’ John said.
‘‘A couple of hours later they will wake up and might want
be to have a beer with you.’’
Kathleen agreed. Reading people is a big thing and knowing when they need their space, she said.
a personalised email to the guests a few days after they have left to thank them for coming.
‘‘I try to make a note in my diary of just some little personal thing that they were going to do or something about the family and I’ll always mention that in their email.’’
The couple’s friendliness has meant they have enjoyed opening their home, which they built six years ago, to a wide range of people. They initially built their home without the intention of starting a bed and breakfast, which they started five years ago.
Guests send letters and Christmas presents and the Days will spend time with one German couple that were guests when they head off on a cruise down the Rhine later in the year.
At first, the Days only used the cottage for guests, but now make two double bedrooms in the main house available for larger parties as they said they were inundated with requests.
Tourists use the accommodation and Matamata as a hub for activities in Rotorua, Waitomo and Hobbiton, the couple said.
The house can only accommodate seven people at a time. ‘‘That’s a nice number. We can sit round and chat and I can make seven breakfasts,’’ Kathleen said. They like that they can only have that many as it keeps a personal touch to their interaction.
Eighty per cent of the guests are from overseas, with a lot of Singaporean families.
Most of their New Zealand visitors use it as a base to get ready for a wedding or for a honeymoon.
Chestnut Lane Cottage was the only New Zealand bed and breakfast to make the top 25 in the world in their category. They were up against competition from Italy, Greece, the UK and America on the American travel website that provides reviews.
WELCOMING HOSTS: Chestnut Lane hosts John and Kathleen Day have won several awards from a travel website.