Evan and Jenny Thompson’s hospitality journey started one Saturday morning…
“We were both teachers in Victoria and wanted to do something for ourselves rather than work for wages. We were sitting reading the paper one Saturday morning and saw an ad for an agent who was in Melbourne talking to people about business opportunities in apartment management rights.”
Curious, they made an appointment, had a productive meeting and viewed a potential property on the Gold Coast but decided to wait. A year later though they were ready to make the move and bought into another management rights business on the Gold Coast.
“We started with a five-year plan but were only there for 18 months after accepting an offer for the business.” The couple then moved north to Airlie Beach to manage a complex with 135 apartments. Once again, they had a five-year plan. This time they lasted 13 months.
“I was sitting in the office on a rather dull day when an agent called and said he had a buyer for the business.” Evan and Jenny saw it as a good opportunity and sold up.
The next five-year plan was to buy the Best Western Ipswich Heritage Motor Inn in Ipswich, 45km southwest of Brisbane. Almost 13 years later they are still there.
“Another five-year plan that didn’t go ahead according to plan,” said Jenny.
“We wish we got into this industry 35 years ago. We’ve really enjoyed it.”
Evan remembers early in the piece watching some people enjoying themselves around a BBQ and thinking “without me they wouldn’t have done this.” Very rewarding, he said.
Best Western Ipswich is right in the middle of everything – 900m from the city centre, located between Ipswich Hospital and the city Showground. The University of Southern Queensland is a couple of hundred metres away, while they get a lot of business though the RAAF Base Amberly.
“Ipswich is a huge growth area, there’s a lot going on,” said Evan, adding that “the thing about Ipswich is it’s a very sporty town.
“Our best-known customer was the Melbourne Cup. The VRC was taking it on a promotional tour and they stopped here.”
A big part of the hotel’s character and local reputation has been forged by the Heritage Restaurant and Piano Bar, where Evan has been known to pull up a stool and tinkle the ivories.
“We had no experience but seem to have taken to it – we know how customers like to be treated,” said Jenny.
“We’ve had some absolutely fabulous times – people singing, people dancing.”
One recent guest raved on TripAdvisor: “I was enchanted by the Piano Bar where the owner – a truly professional musician – made our dinner an unforgettable event. Standard piano pieces that every baby boomer will enjoy. Good old-style quality recital unmatched in Brisbane area.
“Great service, nice people.”