It was 2016 and there was a new aurora on the horizon...
These are the types of comments we get from guests who have stayed here recently as well as many years ago, when Aurora on George wasn't even a twinkle in the current landowner and property developer's eye. You see, Aurora on George, and its neighbouring businesses, was the brain child and vision of Carl Angus, when he purchased the buildings in 2015. It was previously known as Cargill's Hotel, and prior to that, Cherry Court. What was once a traditional hotel is now the home to 4 businesses; 2 motels, a Café and a Restaurant. It has retained its soul, its heart-song, its identity and its purpose - to provide beautiful and relaxing accommodation, good food and exceptional service. We still are a place where people come to stay; to work, to enjoy themselves, to create memories, to commemorate and to celebrate.
Chris and I were incredibly lucky to be involved with the re-development of both motels. Having experienced the clean-slate approach to a totally new build previously; remodeling an existing structure was on another plane - I like to call it "the crazy plane" actually. It was challenging, fascinating, overwhelming, all-consuming, frustrating, infuriating, at times downright side-splitting. All the while it was physically exhausting and yet ultimately highly fulfilling. There was laughter, there was exertion, blood, sweat and there were tears - lots and lots and lots of tears.
It took just over a year after learning of the Cargill's project, to opening the doors at Aurora on George for business, in late March 2016.
Having had 3 children, I have to say, that this was the longest and hardest gestation period I've experienced, and the most difficult birth ever (and I had a 10lb 5oz baby, just so you know that I really do know).
During this time:
- we knew every square cm of the property that is now Aurora on George,
- I spent hours with the draftsman trying to make square pegs go into round holes. My 6th Form technical drawing skills came in handy in the wee hours of the morning, although I really should have learned and used computer technology knowledge (thanks Mr. Moore at Hawera High School),
- I made structural walls and pillars disappear (much to the dismay of the landlord and the structural engineer),
- we persuaded the landlord to get the best laundry facilities, so that we would be the envy of every motel owner in the city,
- I played paper, scissors, rock with Chris to decide who would ask for a lift to the upper floor (he did and we got it),
- we named and created branding for the motels, even giving them personal traits and qualities, taglines and colour palettes. We explored design features and even some additional promotional ideas,
- I agonised over colour schemes, carpet, kitchen benchtops and cabinetry choices,
- I worked tirelessly with the amazing Kathleen from McKenzie & Willis to fill the rooms with locally made tables, desks, chairs, couches, wardrobes, window dressing solutions, cushions and luxury bed comforters.
As an aside Kathleen humoured me, listened to me and counseled me. Even her wee daughter would pretend to talk to me on her toy phone, a laptop at the ready! Kathleen honed my scattered ideas into coherent designs. She definitely saw me at my best and also at my worst, many times!
- I have never ordered so many products in my life - beds, bedding, toweling and linen items, cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils and appliances and by the end I was literally dreaming about teaspoons,
- I lost 5kgs in weight (I've found it again, its okay)
- I also lost 5 pre-existing wardrobes because the builders had removed them when I went away on holiday.
But the resulting Aurora on George is just amazing. In an era where the philosophy of "adapt, re-use and recycle" is promoted, we have done a fine job that we hope our guests will have noticed. The structure remains and the stories of the past are still there. There is just an added freshness, a breath of fresh air. There are crisp clean lines with splashes of our aurora-theme colours everywhere. And of course there is attention to detail and to comfort and last but not least, to our ongoing focus on exceptional service.