As I walk into the Esk Wivenhoe Motor Inn, my eyes sweep across beautifully hand crafted rocking horses, an old peddle car and an array of antique toys that would ignite the inner child in anyone.
This is not your regular motel reception area. With a bold backdrop of red, black and white and in amongst this ‘Never Neverland’ of antiquities, I find Lisa Dorman, owner operator of the Esk Wivenhoe Motor Inn. Lisa’s smile is infectious and she immediately makes me feel as though I’ve come to the right place. There’s a twinkle in her eye as she proudly points out her favourite knick knacks to me, each with their own story and memories. I can tell from the get go, that Lisa’s Esk Wivenhoe Motor Inn is a place where memories are stored and made, and I can’t wait to hear all about them.
DESCRIBE THE ESK WIVENHOE MOTOR INN
The Esk Wivenhoe Motor Inn is a nine room motel that offers a high standard of accommodation.
WHAT MAKES THE ESK WIVENHOE MOTOR INN UNIQUE?
Someone told me my business is the perfect mix of the two Q’s: Quality and Quirky. I pride myself on offering visitors high quality accommodation but I still like to show my own flavour through my eclectic taste in quirky decor. I am a collector of all things vintage and love adding to my collection of memorabilia, antiques, knick knacks and art. I enjoy going to antique stores and choosing pieces that speak to me, so every item on display at the motel has meaning or ignites a memory.
WHAT’S NEW AT THE ESK WIVENHOE MOTOR INN?
The last 12 months have seen a few changes at the motel, and there are more changes planned in the year ahead too. So far, I have a new colour scheme of red, black and white. They are big bold colours and I’ve always liked the way they look together. It just so happens that many of my vintage collectables and knick knacks are red, black and white, so it’s all tied in well. All of the rooms, have new flooring, carpet, bedding, furniture, linen, fridges, appliances and artwork. Each room has its own unique artwork and colour scheme. I love how every room is different and has its own style and pop of bright colour. I have cleared out a room that was previously used for storage and equipped the room with gym equipment so my guests have a dedicated area to work out. I’ve even installed a sauna room for the enjoyment and relaxation of my guests. As I don’t allow cooking in the rooms, I have cleared out another storeroom and converted it into a simple kitchenette (it’s equipped with a toaster, microwave and similar basic facilities) for any guests who might want to heat something up or make some toast for breakfast.
WHAT’S NEXT ON THE CARDS FOR ESK WIVENHOE MOTOR INN?
I’ve ordered a 4m by 2.5m swim spa which will be installed in the courtyard by the end of February. It will be a great little outdoor area, where guests can relax in or around the spa and use the barbeque. I’ve remodelled one of the guest bathrooms with new tiles, walls, sinks, glass showers and fittings as a tester and am really happy with it, so I look forward to getting them all done by the end of the year.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT WORKING FOR ESK WIVENHOE MOTOR INN?
The people, hands down. What’s the point of it all without the people? I love chatting to my customers and making them feel at home in my motel.
IF YOU HAD THE WHOLE WORLD’S ATTENTION FOR JUST ONE MINUTE, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO TELL THEM ABOUT THE ESK WIVENHOE MOTOR INN?
I am very proud that the Esk Wivenhoe Motor Inn is officially accredited by RACQ as the only four star motel in town.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR BUSINESS FRESH?
Sometimes, when people think of keeping your product fresh or new, they think of adding something. I’ve done the opposite, by taking something away. When I first bought the motel, I used to serve breakfast and cook for my guests. Recently, I’ve rethought this and have removed meals from the menu altogether. I’ve realised my core business is accommodation. I do it well and I am confident that I am providing high quality facilities and service. There are plenty of places in town where visitors can get a nice meal, coffee or drink, so why double up? My philosophy is to stick to what you do well and do it the very best you can, and for me that’s accommodation. I want to be the best accommodation provider that I can be.
Since then, I’ve rented out the restaurant area in the motel to a local business called the Timbarra T House. It’s a boutique tea house which offers a range of locally mixed tea grown in Queensland. I see this as expanding the tourism offering in town and offering visitors another unique experience to enjoy. There is a small tea display in each of the motel rooms, which my guests can enjoy as an added perk.
WHAT’S THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Repeat business of course.
WHAT’S THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED AT THE ESK WIVENHOE MOTOR INN?
About two years ago, an older couple booked out the whole motel because they were getting married and having a wedding reception at a local venue in town. They were the most lovely people and it was such a pleasure to host them and their friends and family on the night before their wedding and on their wedding night. On the morning of the wedding, I got to watch the bride walk out of her room and have photos taken in the courtyard, before she headed off to the church. It was such a special moment. A year or so later, I got another phone call from a lady who wanted to do exactly the same thing. It turns out the second bride was the daughter of the first bride! She said her mother’s wedding was the best one she had ever been to and decided to do exactly the same! So not only did I get to assist with the mother’s wedding, but the daughter’s wedding too. I felt so honoured to be a part of not just one, but two of their very special family memories! Since, then I have hosted a number groups who are celebrating their weddings in Esk and I just love helping to create these wonderful family moments.