Since taking over the Marlo Caravan Park and Motel in August, Ros and Colin Mitchell, haven’t been able to keep the smiles off their faces.
“We’ve been smashed with bookings,” Mr Mitchell said when the Snowy River Mail dropped by the park last Tuesday.
“We were heavily booked before Christmas and our January bookings are also very strong,” he said.
“When the border to New South Wales closed, the phone was ringing off the hook,” Mrs Mitchell said.
Mr Mitchell conceded there had been
a couple of phone calls in the past week with people cancelling because of concerns over the coronavirus.
“We had one person say, we’re not coming because we hear there’s COVID-19 in Lakes Entrance,” Mr Mitchell said somewhat surprised.
Lakes Entrance has now been cleared of COVID-19, after concerns a couple, who had dined at a Black Rock Thai restaurant at the centre of an outbreak, had also visited a number of businesses in Lakes.
The Mitchells stumbled across the Marlo Caravan Park and Motel in
March, having travelled around for three years in a van, after selling their house in Melbourne.
“We came here in March and got locked down because of the coronavirus and so negotiated to buy the business,” Mr Mitchell said.
“It’s been an amazing journey, we had no revenue for the first two months and a group of grey nomads helped us with painting the place and building a communal fire pit and deck,” he said.
The fire pit and deck brings people together of an evening to socialise and the couple now has plans to install a kitchen on the deck, beside the barbecue, so guests can prepare their meals outside.
They are also planning to hold happy hour every Friday and hold “make your own pizza evenings”.
“We had a record number of visitors check into the park in November and December and January will very busy too,” Mr Mitchell said.
He says the beauty of the park is that it caters for all types of budgets ranging from $80-$155 a night. Powered sites rent from $34.
The park, located across the road from the Marlo Hotel, employs five locals.
“It’s been a big learning curve, but it’s fantastic, there’s always maintenance stuff to do,” Mr Mitchell said.
Steven Rypalski, from Keilor Downs in Melbourne, was due to be holidaying with his family in New South Wales but once the borders closed he was forced to look closer to home.
The crane driver said he’d never been to East Gippsland and after doing an internet search of where to go, “Marlo came up”.
Mr Rypalski said the holidays coincided with his mate’s 40th birthday, so a group of between 30-40 checked into the caravan park.
He said the families enjoyed boating and fishing and would likely return again.
“It’s got a bit of a cruisy feel and there’s fewer shops so it costs less with the wife,” Mr Rypalski said.
“It’s also nice and small so you don’t lose the kids for too long.”
Colin and Ros Mitchell enjoy a refreshment on the deck of the Marlo Caravan Park and Motel, which they purchased in August, after being forced into lockdown because of coronavirus. K2–8791