Giving visitors a taste of Nelson

Local goodies at heart of motel's relaunch

LAURA BASHAM.
Last updated 08:15 06/12/2013
Bonita Wilkinson
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
REGIONAL FAVOURITES: Greens Motel co-owner Bonita Wilkinson with a selection of locally-produced food and drink.

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Bonita Wilkinson's motel stocks only Nelson food in its minibars.

It's a change she's introduced so that visitors can take away a taste of Nelson as well as memories.

It's also part of her strong belief that Nelson businesses need to work together.

She and husband Keir will host a networking event on Wednesday where 10 of those suppliers will have their products on show and they will celebrate the motel's name change to Greens Motel.

"New Zealanders are notorious for not celebrating achievement," she said.

Mrs Wilkinson got the idea for a relaunch after watching the television programme Hotel Rescue. "They were trying to help a motel get more bookings so they did a relaunch."

She also read a Nelson Mail article about Nelson Tasman Tourism incentive marketing manager Angela Hunter's efforts to get Nelson food brands people together and their joint promotion at the Auckland Foodshow.

She started calling Nelson suppliers as well as talking to producers at the Nelson Farmers Market and got a good response to stocking local goodies in the minibars instead of mass produced ones.

"This is more about Nelson businesses as a tourism destination needing to work together. We cannot work as individuals," she said.

She is also using her business's exposure on the internet to support other businesses by designing packages so that visitors not only book a room but also a Nelson experience with that, such a fish and chip tea by the sea voucher or wind karting.

The name change from Airport Greens Motel has been to better realign the motel by the Nelson Golf links with its location.

"I have been know as the airport stopover motel. I have a fantastic location. I have the best with the beach, the golf course and the airport and next it will be the shopping with Nelson Junction."

They are progressively doing up the 18-room motel which they took on after it had gone into liquidation under its previous operators.

Mr Wilkinson also operates a carpet business from home while she takes care of the motel.

It was a big step for a woman who has suffered from agrophobia and social phobia, and never used to leave the house. "We employed a manager but it did not work out so I was put in a position of either lose my business or put myself out there."

The relaunch is aimed not just at attracting visitors from outside Nelson but also locals.

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"Nelson moteliers are struggling, there are 14 of them up for sale.

"We need locals to use these assets, motels are not just for visitors, they can be used for anniversaries, family funeral wakes, play a round of golf and have a night off from the kids."

She is also keen to see food producers and the tourism sector work together more.

"We lost Wow, I'd like to see another food and wine event, but not in January."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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