Less than a year ago Rob Page and Georgie Pontoni worked together selling properties at a real estate agent in Sydney’s trendy eastern suburbs.
Fast forward to the present and their business lives are still intertwined but the setting and job couldn’t be more different – they now are managing the Best Western Sanctuary Inn in Tamworth, country NSW.
But the stretch isn’t as big you might think because the radical move means Rob has become the third generation of his family to either own or manage a Best Western property. It’s in his blood.
“It’s a family business and Rob’s parents were ready to step back and we saw an opportunity to step into the role,” explains Georgie.
“Rob’s dad got to work with his dad and now Rob can work with his dad – we thought it would be a special thing to do…”
The couple arrived in Tamworth during January and came to grips with the business through an intense induction period with Rob’s parents Bill and Evelyn, who recently hooked up their caravan and are travelling around Australia.
Bill is a former President of Best Western Australasia and keeps in touch by phone and email, always available for advice when needed – and sometimes when not.
As for Rob and Georgie, they have settled well into Tamworth, a major rural centre on the New England Highway 400km north-west of Sydney best known as the home of Australia’s largest country music festival.
“It’s a great place and we’ve adjusted really well, although I do miss the water,” says Rob. “We live on site and are getting calls in the middle of the night – we are getting involved in everything.
“You get to meet all walks of life and you’re learning something new every day.”
Georgie and Rob have been together for three years after meeting through work. “We used to sit together, we’ve always worked together,” says Georgie.
Neither close proximity or hard work phases them. “I’m very much obsessed with my job and Rob is the same,” says Georgie. “This business is ours in a sense and we want to put in as much effort as we can.”
Each has different roles. Georgie takes care of customer service while Rob looks after the books and marketing.
“We’re also in the process of renovating and updating the property, one room at a time.”
In some ways life has come full circle for Rob. “Some of my earliest memories are going to a Best Western conference in Christchurch and a few of the members actually remember me from those days.”
Living the dream!