In 2002, Peter Martin, an Aussie, and his wife Bobbie, a Kiwi, left the UK and their finance careers to go home to Nelson, which boasts of having the most annual sunshine in New Zealand.
Atop a hill, the couple looked down upon a valley, and Bobbie, who does not only have degrees in home and garden design, but more importantly, a vision of what a setting can ultimately be, decided to look past the crumbling structures and start from scratch.
After three years of meticulous planning, Edenhouse was born. We dined at the main house, but decided to stay for three nights at the garden cottage, with mod cons (heat pump, double glazing) yet blended so well into a cozy home, resulting in the most restful slumber we have had in ages.
Despite the attractions of the Tasman region, our family spent a whole day wandering the gorgeous gardens, gazing at birds and sheep, and finally plopping ourselves on the hammock, in between playing with Chili the Labrador and partaking of breads, meats, salads fresh from the kitchen.
Edenhouse was originally designed as a private home. In 2005, friends started staying over. Before long, Edenhouse became a destination in itself.
“We decided to open it to other people,” says Peter, “and we have been very lucky with our staff, many of whom have been with us since the start.”
The staff, most of whom are young people, are helpful but unobtrusive; the rotating chefs create simple, yet delicious meals. How do the Martins ensure low staff turnover?
“We treat them well,” says Peter. As befits family, the staff had a joyful Christmas celebration, where roles were reversed, with work called off and the Martins treating everyone to a delicious luncheon.
Everyone has been to lodgings, whether family-run inns or chain hotels, that cut costs and staff, so harried they can barely function, with guests made to wait forever for rooms to be ready or malfunctioning units to be fixed.
Not in Edenhouse. “We’d rather have more staff than suddenly lack people in an emergency,” says Peter.
Edenhouse runs smoothly because of the delineation of responsibility between husband and wife.
When we ask Peter about the provenance of certain oranges, he quips, “I don’t know! Bobbie takes care of the food, flowers, everything!” Bobbie smiles, “Peter does everything else.”
The affection between the couple is evident, and their family business continues to flourish.
Love binds Ray Bigden and Jules Haydock, and permeates Collingwood Manor, a stately bed-and-breakfast in Nelson City, where we stayed three nights. Ray is Aussie, and Jules a Kiwi; and Ray too worked in London before coming to Nelson and running Collingwood with Jules since 2014.
Built in 1893, the villa was home to Albert and Ada Everett and their dozen children, a home fit for the elite, as Albert’s father was city mayor, and remained the ancestral home until 1920.
However, circumstances changed. Collingwood passed from one owner to another. It’s now a bed-and-breakfast—offering the yummiest omelets, courtesy of Ray every morning.
Go to edenhouse.co.nz and collingwoodmanor.co.nz.
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