Mak­ing a re­turn to hos­pi­tal­ity

Ex­pe­ri­ence in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try opens up new op­por­tu­ni­ties, as Mike Bain re­ports for our se­ries, Busi­ness Mat­ters.

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place -

A Mata­mata cou­ple is look­ing to cap­i­talise on the district’s vis­i­tor in­dus­try by open­ing a new ac­com­mo­da­tion busi­ness.

Michael and Mia Smith are due to open Wal­nut Lodge Bed and Break­fast on the out­skirts of town.

The fin­ish­ing touches are be­ing put on the new units so the busi­ness can wel­come its first guests.

The cou­ple moved to Mata­mata, leav­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in real es­tate in Pukekohe.

Michael is hop­ing to con­tinue though, as an agent with Prop­erty Bro­kers in Mata­mata.

Build­ing the bed and break­fast busi­ness is a re­turn to the Smiths’ roots as both were in­volved in the cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity.

Mia Smith has a diploma in ho­tel man­age­ment while Michael spent seven years in the ho­tel culi­nary in­dus­try be­fore tak­ing the role of ac­tiv­i­ties co-or­di­na­tor for a ho­tel chain.

Dur­ing those ‘‘heady years’’, Mia trained and served as New Zealand’s first fe­male but­ler in Auck­land’s Sher­a­ton Ho­tel serv­ing VIP guests.

‘‘There were so many fa­mous names at the time stay­ing, a lot of politi­cians at the APEC con­fer­ence, mu­sic stars like El­ton John and busi­ness peo­ple like Mer­ril Fer­nando who founded the Dilmah Tea brand.

‘‘They maybe fa­mous out­side the ho­tel but to us they were like any other guest stay­ing in the VIP suites.

‘‘They re­ceived the pam­per­ing, like the gold em­bossed sta­tion­ary, spe­cial fruit plat­ters and full at­ten­tive ser­vice.’’

When Mia was a but­ler she was ‘‘a young girl’’ among ca­reer but­lers who had been in ser­vice for a long time.

She was of­fered a schol­ar­ship to con­tinue train­ing in the ho­tel in­dus­try.

Now with their three boys, the Smiths pur­chased the 10ha, Wind­mill Or­chard from Mia’s par­ents and con­verted it into a mixed farm­ing model.

Sur­rounded by a 0.5ha garden, dairy cows and maize crops, they have built two units.

The units fea­ture a two-bed stu­dio and a larger four-bed unit adding to Mata­mata’s much­needed vis­i­tor ac­com­mo­da­tion stocks.

MIKE BAIN

Mata­mata cou­ple Michael and Mia Smith are due to open the Wal­nut Lodge bed and break­fast units in April.

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