Profiles

Reaping the rewards of hard work

Caloundra’s iconic Gemini Resort is a stand out favourite destination for visitors to the Sunshine Coast. Cleverly managed by husband and wife team Caroline and Simon Harrison since 2010, this absolute beachfront resort typifies perfect Queensland holiday relaxation, speaking volumes for its hard working managers.

This is such a special resort – built right on Golden Beach 32 years ago – with distinctive curved architecture. It was the first high rise built in this locale, within only 10 steps to Golden Beach and one of the few resorts with direct access to the beautiful beach. The unique curved shape of the two towers ensures every unit has an amazing ocean view.

Caroline and Simon are originally from the UK, they bought the management rights to Gemini Resort in 2010. Caroline told us, “We had no prior experience of managing a resort but Simon is a cabinet maker by trade and we have both built, renovated, worked on and sold many houses before immigrating to Australia.”

RN225 Gemini 5Without direct industry experience they relied on the set of skills that they already possessed, in addition to their building and renovation background, Caroline owned her own hair and beauty salon so she had great customer service and management skills.

“All this experience gave us a good grounding for running a management rights business. Being able to do any type of general maintenance, accounting work, dealing with property and the general public was very advantageous,” Caroline added.

The location of this property was not the only major attraction as the potential and scope of this resort was striking. Caroline explains, “The apartments are very large and all the bedrooms and lounges have amazing views.

RN225 Gemini 6“The older age of the building means that we have very impressive grounds that make it possible for us to have a full-size tennis court and one of the biggest pools on the Sunshine Coast. The resort is very flexible, so we successfully cater for romantic getaways, newlyweds and are popular with families too! They love our fun-filled kiddie’s pool area and slide. We are an all-round resort with a variety of lovely guests, some who have returned here, every year for over 25 years!”

Caroline disclosed that they had a plan from the moment they purchased the management rights at Gemini Resort, “We had always planned to build Gemini Resort up to the best possible standard that it could be. We planned to do this by encouraging the owners in the complex to renovate and refurbish. We have been constantly making improvements to the building and all the apartments in the complex over the last four years.”

RN225 Gemini 1With an eye for design and colour they have worked with the owners in the building to bring out the best in their individual holiday apartment as well keeping in mind of what guests are looking for. “We try to make the apartments comfortable and modern but at the same time easy to clean and maintain, with an inviting home from home feel. We have also worked with designers to produce a new brochure and build a new website which we wanted to be unique,” she said.

As with most management rights every apartment is individually owned which can be a problem as standards and taste can vary from one apartment to the next. This couple have come up with a terrific way to market their apartments to guests in a more transparent way. Every apartment has its own images and webpage so that guests can easily click-to-view the available apartments in full detail. “The apartment viewer makes it easy for our guests to choose. When any renovation work is done these photographs are updated, the guest response has been very positive as what they see is what they get so they are never disappointed.”

RN225 Gemini 8At Gemini Resort there are 90 units in the building, 52 in the letting pool and since they bought the management rights, they have completed work on about 20 of the apartments. “Also some of our owner have done significant improvements to their apartments themselves to help us improve the standards,” Caroline added.

Their biggest achievement has been watching their resort evolve and, indeed, thrive under their leadership over the past five years. The improvements at this resort have been recognised within the industry and in 2013 they received an amazing accolade; a highly regarded award from TripAdvisor that named them the fourth best hotel to stay in all of Australia.

Caroline admitted that they have a very loyal guest base, “We get around 35 per cent repeat bookings and 20 per cent referrals,” she said. “Awards are great but at the end of the day it’s all about having happy guests. The best thing about our job is when a guest leaves happy, announcing that they will be back and gives us a great review or when an owner sends us an email to say thank you for all our hard work. This leaves me feeling so happy and positively lifts my day!”

RN225 Gemini 11The greatest challenge for them over the last five years has been balancing work with permanent residents as well as holiday guests. Caroline clarified: “Sometimes both parties want different things, so trying to keep both parties happy is a constant learning curve for us. We try to get owners to understand that change can be positive and to see the reasons why we need to keep up with newer buildings and to agree that this means they have to spend money.”

To help them manage the property they have a team of highly dedicated people around them. Two couples, Hannah and David Campion who live onsite, Hannah’s brother Joshua Allgrove and his new wife Nikol have been with Caroline and Simon for nearly three years now, originally from Ireland.

“They were our next door neighbour’s grandchildren and we got to know them before they came to work for us. They had no experience but we knew they were honest, helpful and hardworking and decided that it would be better to train them how we ran the resort knowing we could trust them,” Caroline revealed.

As for Caroline, Simon and their young son Jonah, they live off-site on acreage as this “helps to balance the stress of their job”. A concept that is very hard to believe after finding out that they have been renovating their home too! “We absolutely love to garden,” Caroline advised. “This is a great stress reliever and we also like to keep fit so we have taken up wakeboarding.”

According to both Caroline and Simon, living off site, is a good tip to pass on to any potential managers. “If possible try to live offsite so you can have time to clear your mind. If not, live the resort life, become involved with all the owners and guests.” But they warn, “Be prepared, the first twelve months in management rights is very hard as it takes a long time to learn how a building runs.”

Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke is managing editor at Multimedia Publishing.

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