STEP BACK IN TIME
A thoroughly modern renovation undertaken by the Yaxley family has turned a historic bank building in Corowa into a luxury hotel and spa, filled with the essence of old world glamour.
The Yaxley family has turned a historic bank building in Corowa into a luxur y hotel and spa, filled with the essence of old world glamour.
A VENUE which embraces the sophistication and elegance of a bygone era - a time when Greta Garbo ruled the silver screen and Bing Crosby dominated the airwaves - has opened its doors to guests in the main street of Corowa.
Welcome to Circa 1936, an art deco inspired luxury hotel established on the site of a former bank by husband and wife team Kevin and Ririn Yaxley, who met in Papua New Guinea where Kevin was managing five star properties.
The couple returned to Australia in 2012 to raise their two young daughters and create their own opulent escape for guests, which would reflect their motto of providing 19th century service in 20th century style, with 21st century facilities.
Their exhaustive search for the right property in which to establish the first in what will be a series of Circa hotels, took them to dozens of towns, before they discovered the dilapidated, two storey bank built in 1936 in the classic, art deco architectural style.
Although in state of complete disrepair, a two year renovation was undertaken and Kevin says no expense was spared in the creation of their $1.75m “micro-style” hotel and day spa.
“We love old buildings but so often we can fall short, because of the commercial reality of a limited budget, that we don’t allow a building to realise its full potential,” he said.
“We were lucky that we had enough money to allow us not to take any visible shortcuts.”
The renovation and interior design smacks of the couple’s personal style, mixing sleek, contemporary design with feature pieces chosen from their private collection, or sourced from some of their favourite places in the world.
Kevin says in some ways the finished product has exceeded his expectations; he’s pleased to see how well the carefully curated pieces work in the space and how taking the odd risk has been worth it.
“The realisation of the vision was brought about by having courage, and then having the commitment to spend what was needed to realise it,” he said.
Kevin said the decision to make Corowa their home came about after conducting some thorough research into the town, including its proximity to other major population bases.
He said Corowa “ticked a lot of boxes” including its proximity to the popular Rutherglen wine region and other attractions in the North East, and he hoped to soon see more new businesses come to “the beautiful town”.
“We’d like to think our show of confidence in the town will encourage other people to follow suit,” he said.
The property itself exudes old world charm from the moment guests are greeted at the door by the impeccably dressed hosts and their team of staff. >>
Guests and the public are welcome to come in and enjoy refreshments during the day, selecting from 12 different varieties of tea, or perhaps indulging in iced tea mixed and served from an art deco trolley at their table.
Delectable desserts such as the chocolate ganache cake and “meringue mountain” are all homemade, generously proportioned and presented with lashings of fresh cream on Circa’s own designer crockery.
Even water comes jumbled in a glass jug with ice, strawberry, orange and fresh mint, served with a linen napkin at feature tables made from petrified wood.
Savoury offerings include delicate tapas made to order from seasonal ingredients, while a broad range of all local wines can be selected from a rack in the restored bank vault.
Guests can relax in the lounge with a cocktail and listen to grand piano, admiring the spectacular “Pennies from Heaven” artwork suspended above, which was commissioned for the hotel to reflect Bing Crosby’s 1936 hit song.
Upstairs there is a choice of three, grand-sized suites offering super king size beds, each with lavishly-sized, fully tiled bathrooms with underfloor heating, walk through showers and indulgent, free standing bathtubs.
All the rooms are light-filled, spacious and immaculately presented with crisp linen and feather pillows, offering couples seduction, sophistication and an undeniable “wow” factor.
Downstairs there is a day spa adjacent to the lounge which offers a wide range of services in a private suite which has a hammered copper clawfoot bathtub as its centrepiece.
The spa uses the Yaxleys’ own line of skincare products, created by Ririn Yaxley and inspired by her upbringing in a small village of East Java.
Circa 1936 appears to exemplify the partners’ strengths and talents, melding Ririn’s experience in the spa industry in Bali with Kevin’s extensive background as a hospitality professional.
“The way that we do things is the more traditional form of hotel keeping – it’s just what we want to do,” said Kevin.
“The style of our service - whether it’s the way we dress, the attention to detail, the quality of what we serve, is the way it might have been in the 1800s – the style of the building is certainly 20th century, but the technology and facilities we offer are very much today.”
To find out more about Circa 1936 visit www.circahotels.com
“The way that we do things is the more traditional form of hotel keeping – it’s just what we want to do.” - Kevin Yaxley
FINE DESIGN / Interior fittings have been carefully curated, including the petrified wood tables sourced from Indonesia.
DELICIOUS / Coffee, tea and a selection of homemade desserts and savoury tapas are available daily in the hotel’s lounge.