It was the lure of the Great Ocean Road that brought Robyn and David Ritchie to beautiful Apollo Bay, where they now own the local Best Western, the largest property between Lorne and Warrnambool on Victoria’s spectacular west coast.
The scenery is dramatic and attracts travellers from around the world. In fact, Robyn estimates that 40% of their guests come from overseas, especially China, whose tourists are becoming increasingly adventurous.
What they find is your classic Victorian coastal town. Just 1200 people live in Apollo Bay year-round but the population explodes in summer with thousands of tourists thronging the pretty fishing port.
“There’s so much to do here, it’s easy to spend three or four days exploring the region,” says Robyn. Attractions include the beach, coastal walks, the Great Otway National Park, fishing, surfing and just relaxing.
Through the year weekend business is brisk with a lot of visitors from Melbourne, about a three-hour drive away. The challenge for Robyn and David is to build up the weekday trade and increase the average length of stay, which is currently one night.
They’re working hard and getting some good results, helped by their experience owning and running a caravan park in Wodonga for several years.
Prior to that, David worked in education, including Consultancy and Principal roles, while Robyn built a career at IBM in marketing, manufacturing, procurement and quality process improvement environments.
Robyn says the couple’s experience and focus on quality outcomes underpins their vision and drive, each day, to improve guest experience and results at Best Western Apollo Bay and Best Western as a successful brand.
“The Best Western brand really helps, particularly with the international guests and we’ve got a great location with incredible access to the waterfront,” says David, who adds they’ll be further improving the property over winter in preparation for the summer rush.