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Trinette and Wayne shaking hands

A dynamic duo from Victoria have brought more visitors to the Plateau by increasing the occupancy rate of the Lookout Mountain Retreat, Dorrigo Mountain to over 40%.

An iconic landmark of the area with its unique architecturally designed interior spaces showcasing roughly hewn timber posts and beams and a huge double sided fireplace, the Lookout Mountain Retreat hadn’t seen much love since it was first built in 1984.

Originally from Melbourne, Wayne and Philip came for a holiday to the Coffs Coast and knew instantly they wanted to live here. Keen to change their careers from the corporate world, they started looking at cafes and motels and that’s when they discovered the Lookout Mountain Retreat (formally known as the Lookout Motor Inn) was on the market.

“We were so inspired by the landscape and the beauty of the place. Not so much the motel itself though! It had definitely seen better days! It hadn’t seen a lick of paint, or had new furniture or any money spent in over 25 years,” Wayne said.

“There was originally 9 staff employed when we took over the business, but with only a 10% occupancy rate we were only able to keep one staff member…our housekeeper whom we promoted to head housekeeper and she remains with us today.”

Determined to turn the business around, Wayne and Philip hit the ground running, spending the last two and a half years not only getting to know a business they had no experience in; but also renovating the whole 26 room complex and now Waterfall Way Café, spending thousands of dollars in transforming it.

“We are now trading at around 40% occupancy and increasing. Everything’s going according to our business plan. We are on-track to achieve 60% occupancy in the next 12 months and we are back up to 7 staff again,” Wayne said.

“We really want to help make Dorrigo a destination, so next year we’re aiming to promote our facility for corporate workshops, training and events as well as weddings and artist retreats.  With the right marketing and promotion we hope to bring even more visitors and create more employment opportunities for the Dorrigo region.”

Wayne thanked ETC for their support during their recruitment phase.

“We try to get staff through ETC as much as we can. Trinette at ETC has been really helpful in giving us information around grants, services and other offers available to help us with employing people,” he said.

Wayne shares his tips for others interested in a Hospitality business venture.

“You have to be determined. Have a vision and stick to it, try not to sway from your original goals. It takes a huge amount of energy and a big bank balance to achieve your dream but with determination and tenacity you can make it happen,” he said.

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