Relaxed lifestyle

SOPHIE PREECE
Last updated 15:00 10/11/2012
Shayne Olsen
Scott Hammond

Sounds success: Lochmara Lodge owner-operators Louise Bright and Shayne Olsen have worked very hard to maintain the ethos of the lodge they began 15 years ago.

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An allegory posted on a notice-board at Lochmara Lodge is a daily reminder to Louise Bright and Shayne Olsen to keep their business in balance.

In the fable, a fisherman relaxing in a hammock is approached by an entrepreneur and urged to grow his enterprise, with more boats, employees, a factory and exports, so that he may eventually work less and spend more time with his hammock and family.

Ms Bright says as their Marlborough Sounds lodge has grown in success, size and reputation, they have been mindful to sidestep the trap of becoming too commercial and losing what makes the place so special.

"People like how we have blended our business into the natural environment and how the product is good, but it hasn't sacrificed living in the bush and being in the Sounds.

"The whole experience is ‘at one', for use of a corny phrase."

There's some irony that she and Mr Olsen have to work very hard to maintain the ethos of the lodge they began 15 years ago, wanting to offer a relaxed and peaceful experience to visitors in the Marlborough Sounds.

A lot of their visitors turn up with jandals and tank tops, or in tramping gear, directly off the Queen Charlotte Track, but know that despite relaxed appearances, their experience will be faultless.

Guests to the lodge find accommodation, seafront restaurant, an art and nature trail and an ecological arm - which includes breeding yellow crown kakariki for the Department of Conservation and rehabilitating injured wildlife.

They often also find the owners, with Mr Olsen still driving the guest boat to and from Picton and checking in on diners at the beachside restaurant, and Ms Bright often on hand at reception.

She says being the owners and operators allows them to keep Lochmara authentic, and reflect a bach-style life in the Sounds.

"It's a lot of work but we're still enthusiastic. Because it is so seasonal, and we close for a few months every winter to recuperate and rejuvenate."

She says the future is about "fine-tuning" what they are already doing, and working with Destination Marlborough and other businesses in the Sounds.

"We like to see ourselves not as competitors but as partners to grow the big tourism pie. We're all for developing packages to get people into the Marlborough Sounds."

She admits there's not much time for lying in the many hammocks swinging around the bush-clad property , "but we love being here, and love that the essence of Lochmara Lodge is the same as it was 15 years ago".

Another in the series highlighting the businesses entered in this year's Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. The winners will be announced at the gala dinner on November 16.

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- The Marlborough Express

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