It’s been 10 years since Gerry Harvey and Katie Page opened the Byron at Byron Resort, with Katie Page saying it wouldn’t be the success it has been without managers John and Lyn Parche at the helm.
There’s an old fashioned feel to the Byron at Byron Resort and Spa that has nothing to do with the accommodation or the styling or the food or anything else to do with the physical makeup of the property. It’s to do with the service.
Come out of your conference room there and find a comfy lounge chair on the wide covered verandah overlooking the pool and pretty soon you’ll be engaged by not only an attentive staff member or two but the senior management team who seem to always be there, on hand, to make you feel that extra bit special.
It’s something that used to happen in hotels and resorts all over the world and now, sadly, really doesn’t exist.
Many hotel managers these days appear confined to the back offices; stuck in meetings with the accountants and financial controllers, dealing with owner issues, staff issues, and projections of future rev par forecasts.
Not so at the Byron at Byron Resort and Spa according to Katie Page who built the resort with her husband Gerry Harvey.
“I said I’d be willing to open a resort if John and Lyn [Parche] run it. Lyn and John are the best hoteliers in the world.”
To build the resort Gerry Harvey and Katie Page purchased a piece of land on the outskirts of Byron Bay that backed onto a neglected rainforest with a view to opening a property that would be embraced by Australians and international travellers.
There was already a development application for accommodation on the site but as Ms Page explains, “We wanted something better. This is Byron Bay and we believed that it deserved something of a much better standard.”
“Our one stipulation was that it had to be run by John and Lyn. They were working in America at the time. We got them involved in the design stage which was crucial. Gerry and I are not hoteliers. We could’ve designed something fabulous but something might not have worked. Lyn and John came in and said this is what you need.”
There was agreement that the resort had to be environmentally friendly and conducive to its location, backing onto a rainforest and with a beach just a few hundred metres away. It had to fit in with what Ms Page describes as the brand of Byron Bay – beautiful and environmentally conscious.
The rooms couldn’t be of the cookie cutter variety that are so often found in hotels around the world.
“We didn’t want our guests to feel like they could be in just any hotel room somewhere in the world. When you stay in those rooms, verandas either end, a kitchenette, a fantastic bath – every woman needs a fantastic bath – and the air flow, all work so well.”
But despite their vision on what the resort should be, the local council were less than enthusiastic about their plans.
“What happened once it was built and opened was that the council became our biggest supporters. But before it did, when we were in the planning stages, they were our biggest detractors, and we couldn’t understand it quite frankly.
“Here we were doing a sympathetic building. That rainforest [at the resort] was trashed. It was full of weeds. We had specialists come in and you can see how beautiful it is today. That rainforest would’ve been lost if we hadn’t done the work.
“There was even one of the counsellors who said it would look like a Harvey Norman store. If you follow Gerry and I and our businesses, whether it’s Magic Millions, Space Furniture, Byron at Byron, Harvey Norman, we run a business for the market we’re targeting.
“It’s gone from where we had council trying to stop it to it now being the pride and joy of Byron Bay.
“It’s consistently had rave reviews for 10 years, and that’s been principally because of Lyn and John.”