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A visit to Ohoka in the Waimakariri District was all it took for Laetitia and John de Vries to realise they had found the location of their dreams. “Living off the land in a sustainable way has been a long-time goal for us both,” explains Laetitia. “After discovering Ohoka we instantly fell in love with the place. Ohoka is such a beautiful quaint country township with an amazing community feel.”
The couple were so enamoured with the location that they wanted to share it with the world, so in March 2019 they opened Country Villa Estate - a boutique bed and breakfast situated on their four-acre Ohoka property.
“Over the years John and I have travelled to many parts of the world and thrived on the opportunities to be immersed in diverse cultures, food, activities and travels,” says Laetitia. “It opened our eyes not only to how incredible our world is but also how special and unique New Zealand is. We were very keen to ‘pay it forward’ for visitors to our home. This became our starting point for our philosophy and what we wanted to create here at Country Villa Estate: an experience, not just accommodation.”
Their spacious accommodation suite promises guests a private and comfortable stay complete with spa pool, tennis court, friendly hens, a fairy light forest and an olive grove. But Laetitia says it is the location that is the key attraction for many visitors.
“Location for our guests is important. Many state how location was one of the reasons for choosing our place to stay.”
A brief glance at the business’s many online reviews confirms this, with numerous comments on the property’s quiet and relaxing country setting and its proximity to Christchurch city and International Airport.
“We have the best of all worlds,” agrees Laetitia. “The best thing about having our business located in the Waimakariri District is location, location, location. We are so close to everything that we love: the mountains, conservation parks, rivers, beaches, the best farmers’ market ever, and we are conveniently located close to the city and the airport.”
Despite having operated businesses in the past, when the couple decided to set up their new venture, they welcomed help from Enterprise North Canterbury.
“I was introduced to Guy Graham (Business Growth Advisor) from Enterprise North Canterbury. Listening to all that I was doing and what I wanted to achieve Guy then followed up with a lengthy email of advice, support people and networks. That email became my go-to for months after. I have almost structured our business plan around it!”
Laetitia says that from there she met and became involved with a number of local promotion and networking groups that have been hugely supportive.
“We could not run our business without the local support we receive, ranging from business advisors, local produce suppliers, support networks and local business operators.
“From a business perspective, being located in the Waimakariri District has been invaluable for the support network we have been surrounded with. It is second to none for starting up a business.”
With bookings now coming steadily in, an abundance of five-star reviews and a Superhost rating on Airbnb, the couple are excited about what’s to come.
“We look forward to a future of ‘paying it forward’ for our guests, reflecting the hospitality that we received during our travels that created the lifelong memories that we treasure.”
Country Villa Estate is located on Modena Place, Ohoka. Visit countryvillaestate.co.nz for more information or to book.
Think Waimakariri might be right for your business? Contact our Business Support Manager, Miles Dalton, to discuss >>