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Makoura Lodge owner reflects on tougher times

Makoura Lodge provides confidence to our region and business community having recently experienced their busiest months on record during April and May this year, reinforcing Manawatū’s strong economic performance and domestic market post COVID-19.

The announcement of lockdown resulted in us immediately shutting our doors, leaving us treading unknown waters, with the future of Makoura Lodge at risk.

As I reflect on these tough times, I am so thankful for the country values based on adaptability and “nothing is a problem” installed in the Makoura Lodge team that got us through such a hard and unpredictable time for our business.

I come from a farming background where uncertainty is everyday business with agricultural incomes being so dependent on external factors such as extreme weather events. This understanding helped us to stay cool and calm when COVID-19 hit right amid the peak wedding season. Thankfully, our team could remain secure in their jobs made possible by the wage subsidy and our positioning within the domestic market.

The period gave me the chance to explore health and wellbeing opportunities for the business. Experiencing the surroundings of Makoura Lodge during lockdown made me realise just how special and healing the place is and the magical wairua (spirit) and opened my eyes to the opportunities we can offer people after the unrest experienced from COVID-19.

Post lockdown, we partnered with the Lion Academy to support challenged youth through the ‘Horses Helping Humans™’ programme which teaches youth and corporate groups about body language, communication and mental health. We were able to expand our offering to provide wellness retreats, utilising my sister’s skills as a yoga teacher. It was COVID-19 that spurred this innovation for us, and strategic planning support through the Regional Business Partners programme delivered by CEDA.

The ongoing support to expand our business and CEDA’s partnership with Tourism New Zealand landed us an opportunity for Makoura Lodge to feature on TVNZ’s Breakfast show where we had six live crosses with presenter, Hayley Sproull showing kiwis what lay waiting for them to explore in their own backyard.

With 90% of our guests being domestic, it is thanks to our amazing local community and Manawatū’s strong domestic visitor market that has kept us above water in recent months. In April and May of this year, I am thankful to say we have experienced the busiest months ever, with a constant flow of customers visiting the Lodge for private functions, conferences, weddings, and domestic getaways.

We are so grateful for the support of local guests and businesses and their ongoing commitment to supporting local businesses like Makoura Lodge. It’s this support that keeps our much-loved lodge standing strong and enjoyed by many.

Learn more about Makoura Lodge here

This was published in the 60 Seconds with CEDA newsletter on August 15, 2021. Sign up here to receive our newsletters directly

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