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Niche traveller market eyed for former resthome

Raglan could have its first “flashpackers” homestay up and running this summer if new Norrie Avenue residents Amanda and Adam Cron get the resource consent they require.

After buying last month the old 12-bedroom, four-bathroom Oceanview Resthome overlooking the harbour – and deciding a house that size has “only so many options” – they’re now frantically renovating the property with an eye to catering for a niche traveller market.

The idea is to accommodate not only their own small family but also several guests who may be older than the average backpacker but perhaps doing their OE later in life, says Amanda.

“Have you heard of flashpackers?” she asked on revealing her plans to the Chronicle on Monday. They’re the middle-aged travellers who want something between the backpacker and hotel-style experience. And it’s reflected in the price of course.

“Our unique point of difference is our guests will also be getting a homestay experience,” says Amanda, pointing out the advantages of quality linen and a quiet environment in which to relax.

So while the family’s been living in their new abode since June as they negotiated the sale, they’ve been stripping sometimes three-deep layers of old wallpaper, painting, updating bathrooms, gardening and generally getting what was built as a commercial venture complete with internal sprinkler system back to a liveable standard – all on a “tight budget”, says Amanda.

“No-one’s done any maintenance for years,” she explains of the property which more recently housed Hick Bros Civil Construction staff relocated from Auckland to help build the Te Uku windfarm.

Now the Crons are focused on working with Waikato District Council to get the compliances needed for the resource consent. Additional carparking spaces will be created off the Whitley Avenue entrance for guests who book into the four double guest rooms in the newer wing – separate from their own living area – which Amanda is currently working on.

There are commercial appliances to be installed and consideration to be given to existing trees and landscaping they want to retain. There’s a lot of “jumping through hoops” to get what they want, she admits.

But it’s a venture of a lifetime, says the 40-something accountant who’s also run a bed and breakfast back home in England. “It’s our retirement plan.”
Amanda and her Kiwi husband, a technician, returned to New Zealand with their two school-aged sons five years ago and have lived mostly in Hamilton since then. Their ambitious plan, while “exciting”, has had them on tenterhooks since arriving in town.

They wonder what they’ll do if consent is not granted, and the possibility of either selling the property to developers or landbanking it is in the back of their minds.

“But I really want to be part of the community,” stresses Amanda.

Meantime Amanda’s keen to find old photos people in the community may have of the one-time resthome and its residents, in the hope she can have a bit of history on display when redecorating.

Edith Symes


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