Kauri Tree Retreat wins bronze at Bookabach awards

The Chronicle sat down for a chat with Sharon Patterson, an award recipient at the Bookabach Bach of the Year Awards 2017. Her bach, the Kauri Tree Retreat, has won bronze in the design category of the awards.

When did you start up your accommodation ?

We started with our first guests at Easter 2016.

What factors about your property prompted you into setting up accommodation?

We’re in a fantastic location here – right by the Wainui Reserve and the access road up to Ngarunui Beach. It’s a great location for those heading out to the beach or surf breaks, as well as good coffee and good food close by at Rock-It. We look out onto the Wainui Reserve so looking out onto nature is peaceful and private..

What was your vision? What did you want to create?

We wanted to create a small business that fitted around family life and that I could run from home. Holiday accommodation seemed like the obvious choice given our location. I wanted to keep it small so we have built a one bedroom house that mostly caters for couples or groups up to three people. I’ve put a lot of effort into making it look good and feel welcoming for our guests, but we also have all the practical things people need, from a very comfy bed, to a washing machine and a pair of kitchen scissors!

How has it been going? What has the feedback been like?

Summer is of course a busy time with lots of visitors. There’s also quite a few travellers all year round, including couples having a weekend away, people coming to Raglan for an event or a holiday, those on their way to Auckland airport, international visitors getting off the beaten track and, of course, a few surfers too. Feedback has been very positive so far. Guests appreciate the great location, the peaceful setting looking out on the native bush of the Wainui Reserve and the comfortable super-king bed .

You have had recognition in the media for your stunning retreat and also awards. Tell us about these.

I contacted the Sunday Star Times in 2016 to see if they were interested in doing a piece on Raglan as a getaway that could appeal to a wide audience. We have some fabulous small food businesses here such as True Foods, Prinz Mushrooms, Dizzy Blocks, Raglan Fish, Raglan Coconut Yoghurt, Raglan Artisan Bread to name just a few. So they came to stay, met some of the locals, ate some very good food and published a piece, which you can find on the Stuff website under ‘Creatively Cultural Raglan’.

In September 2017 I had an email from Bookabach, who we are listed with, to tell me we had been shortlisted for their annual Bookabach awards in the Design category. That was a real buzz. I was so excited! They ran an online campaign asking people to vote for their favourites and we got the Bronze award in the design category. So that is now on our page and we get a medal to put in the house.

What are the challenges with running accommodation? What aspects do you enjoy?

I really enjoy meeting our guests. It’s interesting to hear about other people’s lives and experiences. We shared Christmas lunch with a lovely German couple living in Switzerland who were here on holiday. I also like having a house that always looks good as it’s not filled with the clutter of real life! And I really like being self-employed for the first time in my life. Challenges include managing bookings. For some reason I often get a booking notification when I’m driving or in some random place with dodgy coverage.

Any advice for those thinking of getting into the business?

It’s very competitive here in Raglan. There’s a lot of options for visitors in every budget. I think the best thing you can do is have your place well presented, clean and tidy with some point of difference. Really good photos help and an accurate description. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes.