Having taken over the Quality Inn last year, Kerrieanne Nichols and Carolyn Rowe have big plans for their business. These two go-getters share a little about their lives before Dubbo and what it means to be a “rainbow family” in a rural city.
Kerrieanne Nichols and Carolyn Rowe met in Sydney seven years ago before moving out west to Dubbo. Two years ago they decided to enter the world of hospitality by purchasing the Quality Inn Dubbo, which at the time was considered to be “the worst motel in Dubbo.”
As Kerrieanne notes, the motel was run down, out-dated and in urgent need of refurbishment to see it have its revoked Quality Inn status reinstated. Like most motel chains, a particular standard must be met and maintained for continuity between motels.
The women have not done the renovations in half measures. They’ve invested in the refurbishment by replacing 42 bathrooms, purchasing new TVs, replacing carpet in every room, buying new furniture, landscaping the entire premises, laying new pavers, hanging new curtains, installing new air-conditioners, buying new beds and upgrading the restaurant’s kitchen to a more professional standard.
Their goal is to make the motel a standout in the city, to raise the bar on what is possible with regional accommodation and hospitality. They believe the city has a lot to offer and want to work to grow Dubbo’s reputation even further.
“We have a head chef, a sous-chef and we have just employed a food and beverage manager and an apprentice,” Carolyn said.
“We’ve put in the hard yards, in the early days it was Carolyn and I doing everything, from the restaurant to reception, to the motel rooms – you name it,” Kerrieanne said.
She described the style of the restaurant, Reflections, and the bar area with its silver and black decor and finishings as, “modern, industrial, contemporary funk.”
It makes a bold statement, and the owners are keen to see the premises attract as many locals to their restaurant and bar as visitors to the motel.
“We are at the point with it all now where we can now work on the business, not in the business.”
And the couple are quick to acknowledge their staff. “We appreciate them so much. Without good staff you don’t have a business, they’re gold to us,” Kerrieanne said.
Which is a good thing given they have a much loved son vying for their attention.
Carolyn and Kerrieanne made the decision to have a baby four years ago via IVF and made the decision to use a known donor. Kerrieanne fell pregnant with Braxton on the first attempt. Both women agree that Dubbo is incredibly accepting of their relationship.
“There are a lot of rainbow families in Dubbo. We’ve found Dubbo just doesn’t have an issue with our situation, as mothers or as business women in a relationship,” Kerrieanne said.
Carolyn added that it’s been the same with their motel guests, which she said is a great reflection on how far people have come in accepting relationships outside the traditional “norms.”
Occasionally a few of the guests have been confused, but once they have twigged that the two women are a couple, they’ve taken it in their stride.
“Going by appearances most people recognise that Caz is gay but it can get confusing when people see me done up in my heels and lashes, they think I must be straight,” Kerrieanne said, laughing.
Before moving to Dubbo, both women had lead very different corporate lives, with Carolyn working in corporate recovery and Kerrieanne as a professional make-up artist. Kerrieanne also had a pretty interesting sideline going as an extra in a variety of commercials, movies and television shows, like Home and Away, Packed to the Rafters, Nickelodeon’s Me and My Monsters and even a zombie movie.
She said her true love, however, is teaching people how to do make-up.
“I love it, I love teaching people how to make themselves look beautiful in a really simple way, that’s what it’s about,” she said, adding that she will begin hosting make-up master classes at the Quality Inn Dubbo in the near future.
The Quality Inn Dubbo is located at 165 Whylandra St, Dubbo, NSW. Click here to enquire or book.