The first in our People of Best Western series.
Talk about a transformation. In less than five years Mary and Joseph Sukar have turned what the media had dubbed ‘Heartbreak Motel’ into one of western Sydney’s best properties, evidenced by the outstanding customer reviews the Best Western Casula receives each day.
Back then it was called the Pop-In. A desperate lonely place, it was notorious as a property of last resort, one where rooms rented by the week and police did nightly checks. It was a half-way house for people heading nowhere.
Mary wanted to turn and run when she first saw the place, which though well-built hadn’t received any love in years.
But the location near Liverpool and the Hume Highway was great, as was the price, so she and Joseph – encouraged by Mary’s motelier father – decided to give it a go.
“I’d worked in my parent’s motel in Burwood for 20 years and always wanted to have my own property. Our children had got a bit older and my father said I could do it with my eyes closed.”
So, the hard-working couple took a risk, went for it and bought the Pop-In, closing it down and putting the property through a massive renovation taking 6 months to complete. Although scary at times, it needed to be done. Every room gutted, everything replaced.
When the 31-room property re-opened in late 2013 as the Best Western Casula, business was slow for the first few months. “We were initially selling 10 or 11 rooms and the other 20 would be unoccupied,” she says. “But once we hit the spotlight with reviews, everything changed, that made a huge difference and we have been operating anywhere between 85% and 90% occupancy ever since.”
Mary says responding to guest comments has been crucial to their success. “From the get go, whatever suggestions our guests made we would take them on board and try to make the property better, we’re always tweaking things to improve people’s experience.”
And while the former motel horror show is now a “fabulous business”, the most important thing for Mary and Joseph is offering genuine hospitality. Everything flows from there. “When our guests arrive, we treat it as people entering our house, we see the property as an extension of our own home.
“I really like meeting a diverse range of people from all walks of life, all backgrounds. If I see someone happy then I’m happy. That’s what keeps me going.”