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Is it a hotel? Not really. Is it a guesthouse? Not exactly. Is it a hostel? Well not like any hostel you’ve stayed in before.
Rose Flynn and Antony Langdon, the young owners of Hobart’s newest chic accommodation offering, call their new property Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse. Open just a week, it has been described as being perfect for those with Champagne tastes on a beer budget. A beautifully restored 1895 mansion in the suburb of Battery Point (with an extension built in 1910), Montacute has delightful gardens, plenty of car parking and is within walking distance of both Salamanca Place and downtown Hobart.
From the outside it looks gracious; and inside is a revelation with recent renovations and some tasteful decorating resulting in what looks like a chic, boutique hotel with lovely lounges, verandahs and nooks and crannies. The bedrooms, too, are simple but delightful. All feature beds with crisp cotton linen, duvets, woollen blankets and fluff pillows with reading lamps and power points for all and free wi-fi throughout the property.
So how, then, can double rooms in this delightful establishment cost just $50 per person per night? And shared room with bunks (ideal for backpackers or groups of children) cost just $40 per person? The answer is that none of the rooms have en suite bathrooms; all washing facilities are shared. Which Langdon and Flynn don’t see as an issue for most of their guests.
“Since we’ve opened we’ve found a lot of people would prefer to save a couple of hundred dollars a night on accommodation and spend that money enjoying Hobart’s many gourmet offerings,” they say. There is nothing wrong with the bathrooms. They are modern and impeccably clean. And unless Montacute is full to capacity there should be no issues with waiting for a shower or to brush your teeth. So Montacute is luxurious and welcoming – and brilliantly situated – if you are willing to compromise on having your own facilities.
Cooking facilities include a spacious kitchen with a range of appliances like microwaves and sandwich makers, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans and plenty of fridge and freezer space for those who wish to self cater, although there are also several good takeaway food outlets in the neighbourhood. There is a long dining table, and tables for two on the upper and lower balconies, as well as outdoor tables with umbrellas and picnic rugs for those who want to laze on the lawn with a glass of Tasmanian pinot noir (Montacute is BYO right now but plans a wine list focusing on local producers). The bunkhouse hires out brand new bicycles for $25 a day, or $20 after 1pm and also organizes a range of excursions to the likes of the Huon and the Derwent valleys.
HOPES for the tourism industry are at a record high, with businesses reporting a better than expected summer.
The latest Tasmanian Tourism Industry Business Confidence Index is at 95 points out of a possible 100. Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief Luke Martin said it was a massive turnaround, with results in the first survey in 2011 “below zero”. More than half the operators surveyed reported an increase in business this summer. About 330 tourism operators took part in the survey.
Mr Martin said the increase in business performance and confidence was proof tourism would be an economic driver for the state. “The industry has been promised a lot [by the new State Government] and talked about a lot, and it shows that there is truth behind what we say [and] there’s real potential in the sector,” he said. “It shows it’s a viable industry for people to look at when setting up businesses.”
Rose Flynn and Antony Langdon opened their Battery Point boutique bunkhouse at the weekend, after researching Tasmania’s tourism industry for the past three years.
Montacute targets budget conscious travellers who don’t want to sacrifice comfort and style, with beds available for as little as $40 a night. “We are both extremely passionate about where Tasmania’s tourism industry is going,” Ms Flynn said.
The latest confidence index result shows many tourism operators share their optimism. Mr Martin said he welcomed the shift in confidence, labelling 2011’s negative zero result as embarrassing.
In the latest survey, 62 per cent of tourism businesses in Hobart and southern regions said their business had improved this summer over the previous year. This included 17 per cent of businesses who were up more than 20 per cent. About 74 per cent of East Coast operators were up, including 28 per cent who were up more than 20 per cent.
Mr Martin said the result likely pointed to a strong bounce-back after the devastating bushfires last year. But it wasn’t all positive. “Figures show that one in five [businesses] are still negative, so we know it’s not across the board glory days for operators,” Mr Martin said. “But [the survey result] shows we’re on the right track, I think.”