Circa Hotels

CIRCA Hotels' Kevin and Ririn Yaxley discuss the benefits of joining the NSW First program.

Business profile

The CIRCA Hotels collection is owned and operated by Kevin and Ririn Yaxley and is based in the Riverina-Murray region of NSW, halfway between Melbourne and Sydney.

Formed in 2013, the company’s mission is to establish Australia’s finest boutique hotel and day spa group with a focus on historic properties in regional locations. Places where all guests are treated with genuine, from-the-heart hospitality. Where 19th century service, 20th century style and 21st century facilities combine to make an unforgettable experience.

The original CIRCA 1936 Hotel and Spa is in Corowa and two subsequent properties have opened since: CIRCA 1929 Day Spa in Wagga Wagga and CIRCA 1928 Spa Hotel in Albury.

Quick facts

Product type: Accommodation

Focus: Health & Wellness, Luxury

Location: Albury and Corowa, Riverina Murray

Destination Network: Destination Riverina Murray

NSW First spoke to CIRCA Hotels' Kevin and Ririn Yaxley about why the business is involved with the program.

Kevin and Ririn Yaxley - Directors/Designers/Developers, CIRCA Hotels
How did you start working with Destination NSW and the NSW First program?

We submitted an entry for the NSW Tourism Awards in 2017 and were successful in winning Bronze in the Luxury Accommodation category. As a result, Destination NSW provided us with immense support and assistance. By engaging with them we were made aware of the inbound market and attended a NSW First workshop to familiarise us with the procedures of becoming export ready.

How did your business get started?

Returning to Australia after 12 years overseas we decided we wanted to contribute to the industry with personal experience gained internationally. We searched Australia for a suitable site for our project and chose the Riverina region as that best suited our requirements.

What makes an exceptional visitor experience?

Without a doubt there must be an emotional trigger for any experience to become exceptional. That emotional element can take many forms. It could occur during a discussion with a local or while looking at a piece of historic memorabilia. It could be a sight, a fragrance, a taste or a gesture that touches the heart or the mind in a unique way.

Circa room
What do you wish you knew when you started?

That we would need twice the capital and that it would take five times longer to achieve any goal. I wish we knew we would need a great deal of assistance along the way, no matter how much we thought we knew or how experienced we were.

Why do visitors enjoy your product?

We trigger the five senses – sight, smell, sound, taste and touch with almost every aspect of our product and service. Combine that with great personal service, value for money and efficiency of product and service delivery and we manage to delight 99.9% of guests. But most importantly is the human connection.

Without a doubt there must be an emotional trigger for any experience to become exceptional.
Who is your target market?

Our advice is to be as broad in appeal as possible (within your price point) in age, gender and location. This is especially important in the first few years until you gain an insight into all possible markets. We continue to be surprised by the diversity of our market and where they have come from.

How did you develop a bookable product?

Our bookable product was created from previous experience, a gut feeling, listening to advice — especially from Destination NSW — and continuing to adapt that product each and every day according to the feedback of guests and also potential guests who might not have completed their booking.

What opportunities or challenges are you looking forward to?

• The opportunity to bring meaning and value to people’s lives: our staff, our guests, our community and our shareholders.

• More great hotels.

• More staff who learn, grow and succeed.

• More guests who are delighted every single time.

• More shareholder satisfaction by achieving greater monetary returns and emotional value from their investment.

• Increased appreciation from our community and industry for what we contribute.

How has online booking software assisted your business?

An online booking platform is critical. It is expected by guests and expected by the industry.

How do you distribute your product?

We distribute our product via our website and online travel agents. We are only just now venturing down the road of working with inbound tour operators and wholesalers.