Raj Patel came to Australia 27 years ago chasing love, following his Australian girlfriend Bronwyn from the famous British port of Bristol to Warrnambool on Victoria’s rugged Shipwreck Coast.
New life, beautiful spot, one problem – Raj didn’t have a job.
His solution was to hand-write a resume and start knocking on doors up and down Warrnambool’s main street.
Raj got a lot of knock-backs but finally a local motel manager rewarded his perennially positive attitude with a job as a barman, enticed by his offer to work for free on trial basis
“I worked for nothing for the first couple of days and was there for 10 years,” says Raj. He experienced all areas of the business – from cleaning and housekeeping through to functions and the front desk.
His career took a fateful turn in 2003, when he jumped ship and took a job at the rival Best Western Olde Maritime, which he ended up buying three years ago.
It’s got 43 rooms, including a few newly-renovated ones in Warrnambool’s original harbor master cottage, built in 1867, a top restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, and is brilliantly located a couple of blocks from the CBD opposite the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.
Raj is thriving on the challenge of being an owner-manager and the business is going from strength to strength.
Just one look at the TripAdvisor reviews tells you that – both Best Western Olde Maritime and its stylish restaurant, Clovelly, are ranked #1 in their respective categories on the global review site.
“We’ve worked really hard to get those rankings, moving our way up and up until we reached the top.”
Raj is constantly reinvesting in the business to ensure the rooms and facilities are top quality and strives to motivate staff so they can deliver great service.
His philosophy is “just work hard and you will get there. Have a good attitude, ask a lot of questions and learn something every day. That’s what I tell my kids.”
As for Bronwyn, now his wife, it looks like she and Raj have achieved the perfect balance.
“My wife has been a travel agent for many years. She takes people from Warrnambool and I bring people to Warrnambool.”