In the midst of a crisis for the Canberra accommodation sector, with Sydney and Melbourne in lockdown and other states imposing their own travel restrictions, three women - all leaders in the local industry - are refusing to be bowed.
Kathryn Carling from the Little National Hotel in Barton, Sarah McDougall from Lake George Winery and Anne Masters from the Gallery of Small Things are looking ahead to spring, collaborating to create a luxury short stay they hope will entice interstate travellers back to Canberra when they are able,but also to encourage locals to enjoy the ultimate 'staycation'.
Their Great Things Come in Little Packages campaign has been almost two years in the making and was to be unveiled in September 2020 but Covid, again, forced the women to delay the project for a year.
Now they are excited to launch the campaign, hoping it will encourage spending across a range of small business in Canberra.
The luxury wine, art and hotel experience will be offered for September 24, 25, 26 - taking in Floriade - when the weather is warmer and, hopefully, Covid restrictions have eased.
It comes as the ACT government announced this week support funding for local hotels and tourism operators hit hard by the border closures.
Barton's Little National Hotel general manager Kathryn Carling said it had been a brutal time as Sydney, and now Melbourne, travellers could not enter the ACT.
"It's definitely been tough. It's been a really challenging period, the most challenging of my career. And we've just been trying to navigate the best way we can," she said.
Tourism in the wider Canberra region was also being affected.
The Lake George Winery has just celebrated adding a Dining Dome to its picturesque setting, and bookings were going "really well", owner Sarah McDougall said. But the feature was also pitched to the Sydney market, travellers to and from the snow and those who wanted to explore Canberra. That tap had now been turned off due to the greater Sydney lockdown.
"Probably 70 per cent of our business in winter has gone, so we really have been impacted," Sarah said.
"But the great thing is, Canberrans come out and support us. People are looking for things to do on the weekends and I think we'd like to remind Canberrans to keep coming out and supporting not just our business, but other small businesses who are struggling."
The campaign had its beginnings with Anne Masters from the Gallery of Small Things, who had worked with the Little National Hotel in the past. She and Kathryn then brought in Sarah and Lake George Winery. They also secured an ACT government tourism grant to promote the package.
"Things just kind of rolled from there," Anne said.
Great Things Come In Little Packages includes two nights' accommodation at Little National with daily breakfast at Buvette Restaurant.
It will highlight ceramics and pottery artist Grace Brown, who will be having at the exhibition at the Gallery of Small Things at the time. Participants will attend her private exhibition opening and meet the artist.
They will also take part in a ceramic workshop and receive a gift from the artist.
And the other highlight is a personalised vine to wine tour at Lake George Winery.
Sarah said she hoped locals would also use the package to get away from it all on a 'staycation'.
"So many Canberrans still don't know what's in their own backyard," she said.
"For them to come out to us and have drinks on the Friday and the out to the winery, being exposed to what we do. And then staying in town, within walking distance to everything. Canberra at that time is absolutely lovely, especially around the lake and in Barton."
The women say it's been a great experience bringing the campaign together and showing what can be done in Canberra.
"It's about enjoying the little things in life," Sarah said.
More information and bookings here.
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