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Airbnb takes off in the Western District

REGIONAL towns are slowly welcoming an increased number of short-term rentals and overnight stays through popular site, Airbnb.

In the Southern Grampians Shire alone, there are over 61 individual short stay properties, including those in Hamilton, Tarrington, Penshurst, and Dunkeld.

The site is lined with farm stays and charismatic chic cottages aimed at nature loving Victorians looking for a regional escape.

Newly renovated, Salt Creek Cottage only arrived on the site last month and already has proven to be a hit, with the cottage booked out months in advance.

The Grampians Goods Co. owner and house curator, Amanda Cochran told The Spectator she didn’t anticipate the cottage to book out so quickly.

“July is now booked out and August weekends are almost gone along with Dunkeld Races, Christmas and News Years all booked out already,” she said.

“I am pretty optimistic that the remainder of the months will fill up pretty quickly.”

Ms Cochran said everything came together shorty after she launched her range of guest amenities for boutique hotel, The Provincial, in Ballarat.

“It is a bit of a long and windy story how it all came about, but last year I launched a range of guest amenities for boutique Ballarat hotel, The Provincial,” she said.

“It inspired me to expand on that and create a whole new range for B&Bs (bed and breakfasts) – GGCo. Guesthouse.

“I then decided to attend Sarah Andrews’ The Hosting Masterclass to get more of an idea of how it all works in B&B world and simply because I just loved everything she did.

“I didn’t have a B&B at that point at all.

“After the first day of that course by pure coincidence the cottage was presented to me as an opportunity to apply what I was learning at the masterclass.”

Ms Cochran said she wanted the experience to be different than what she had previously done before.

“I instantly thought it would also be really different to have a Grampians Goods Co. ‘experience’ and showcase my products via a B&B as opposed to a retail space.

“I met photographer, Marnie Hawson at the masterclass and she mentioned she was doing style and shoot packages with Lynda Gardener and Belle Hemming from Inside Story and being huge fans of them all I couldn’t
refuse.”

Ms Cochran said the Airbnb scene had been taking off in regional towns across Victoria.

“I think regional areas are long renowned for their slower pace and good old-fashioned country hospitality,” she said.

“B&Bs offer a more connected and enriching experience for travellers than the average hotel - so the pairing of the two is powerful combination.”

Currently, smaller towns in the region are offering up the farm stays in Mountajup, Warrayure, Coleraine, Branxholme.

With many just like Salt Creek Cottage completely booked out, it gives the region promising signs that tourism will bounce back after the coronavirus lockdown.

Ms Cochran said she was optimistic tourism would rebound after such a long lockdown period.

“I suppose I was optimistic when we opened in June as I thought about how Victorians would be eager to get and travel,” she said.

“When people book the cottage, they are required to send me a little message and I get to see who the person is and such.

“Most of the messages are from people in the city eager to see the area and that is a good sign for the economy.

“People are eager to see this part of Victoria and they want a different landscape; they want the country and wide, open spaces that the Western District can provide.”

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