Little did she know at the time but Karen Baldwin had the perfect training for her hospitality career from a very early age.
Her parents were deaf and, as the eldest of four children, Karen was relied on to solve communication issues; translating, liaising, ensuring no misunderstandings, keeping everyone happy.
That’s something she does to this day as the owner and operator of the Best Western Kennedy Drive Tweed Heads, just five minutes from Coolangatta Airport on the Gold Coast.
“I love people, I love helping people, I am a real people person,” explains Karen, her enthusiasm infectious.
“I love running the motel, it doesn’t feel like a job to me. It’s like I have a big home and am welcoming people here.”
Karen took over the Best Western Kennedy Drive in 2012 and has not looked back, her genuine hospitality and work ethic transforming the property.
She’s proud to report that occupancy has doubled during her tenure while it’s now the #1 ranked property in Tweed Heads on TripAdvisor.
Ironic then that just a few years ago Karen swore she would never work in hospitality after a hectic spell managing a motel in Goondiwindi, southwest Queensland, with her husband Steve.
“That was a real eye opener – it was our first motel and had a popular restaurant. It was very busy with the two of us working very hard.”
They sold after five years, somewhat burned out, and swore off hospitality. That is, until a broker called about Kennedy Drive.
Initially reluctant, Karen couldn’t resist the challenge and took on the property herself while Steve stayed in full-time work.
It’s been a great move and one she sees as a long-term proposition, especially now she and Steve have bought the 25-room property outright.
“I love what I’m doing and don’t want to work for anyone else.” Sounds like a plan.