Boutique comfort

Boutique comfort at Tuckers Lane

Life & Style
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IT'S that point of difference in accommodation - natural bush setting and relaxation in a converted shipping container.

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Paul and Carolyn Shields in front of one of their five dream recycled container units at Tuckers Lane Boutique.

Paul and Carolyn Shields in front of one of their five dream recycled container units at Tuckers Lane Boutique.

Yes, it's different, but a mind-blowing experience.

After many years of holiday travelling, taking in a whole realm of locations and experiences fitting between corporate work of up to 60 hours a week, Carolyn and Paul Shields, decided it was their turn to provide accommodation with a difference.

They liked the rural aspect of it affording that "getaway" environment, but it had to be through a unique holiday accommodation in a beautiful bush setting with the inclusion of those luxury items people want when they go away for a holiday or just a couple of days escape.

"Relaxation with a bit of pampering," Carolyn suggested.

Necessary to their dream was that the package had to be a couple of hours from Sydney and unique in an area already self-promoting tourism.

The Shields found it in a 17.5 hectare property on Tuckers Lane between Branxton, Greta and Pokolbin.

"We wanted a building that would fit in with the natural surroundings, but was different to what was currently being offered," Carolyn said.

"And, we want people to relax and unwind during their stay."

The Hunter Valley attracts people liking a "wine and vineyard" experience, maybe a hot air balloon ride, but it's a "holiday lifestyle" that the Shields wanted to provide.

"Therefore we didn't need to promote the area, just create an accommodation of a unique offering," Carolyn said.

The point of difference with a luxury feel was the establishment of recycled shipping containers with minimal impact on the land.

"We didn't knock down trees or excavate land for the project which is set in a natural bush environment that encourages native wildlife like kangaroos to roam through while grazing and have kept the conservation footprint," she said.

"There are kangaroos hopping through the property, plenty of bird life, especially black Cockatoos, it's just perfect."

A large dam is located on one corner of the property big enough for kayaking or rowing in a dingy as well and the fire pit attracts every guest at night for social get-togethers and star gazing.

The property had already had Cessnock Council approval for four two-bedroom villas, but the Shields had other plans evolved over a very long time.

They now have three single bedroom 12 metre (40 feet) containers and two of two bedrooms (12m and 6m), each with its own raised decking with barbecue and outdoor dining settings, plus a spa with plenty of privacy.

The large container houses a lounge room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, all superbly fitted and not claustrophobic.

"We came up with this idea through many, many campfires and bottles of wine," Carolyn said.

The bush escape has been created for adults only. No children or pets and a minimum stay of two-nights.

"We want our guests to fully relax," Carolyn said.

"They are greeted by Paul and myself, not staff like at many other establishments. This is our holiday project and we want our guests to feel fully at home in their accommodation."

Guests are greeted with a cheese and nibblies hamper with fruit and sweets provided by "Meet You At The Cheese platter" and provided with the essentials including bacon and eggs, locally baked bread, and locally made condiments for them to cook breakfast each morning.

And a bottle of wine from a local vineyard, last month was Lucy's Run.

The couple have partnered with many local businesses to fulfill their dream.

"Our plumbers, electricians, builder, interior designer, all are locals," Carolyn said.

"Working with local businesses in rural communities is something you just don't get in the corporate life of Sydney.

"People want to help in rural-based life because they can."

Both Paul and Carolyn say the experience has been at times physically and emotionally draining, but they are loving the result of their labours.

"We hocked a car and our kayaks and other things to help finance our project," Carolyn said. "Haven't sold the kids yet, but we're making head-ways and it's been an exiting experience."

Paul is a professional furniture maker, so the accommodation and furniture businesses go hand-in-hand. Tuckers Lane Custom Furniture and Tuckers Land Boutique Accommodation are the trade names.

Paul has made all the fittings in the lounge, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom in each cabin including wardrobes and vanities.

The Shields began their accommodation business with three cabins in January this year after drought and bush fires.

"We were open for about 10 weeks and then March came and COVID with it, and bookings began to cancel," Carolyn said.

"So we were really open for two months."

However, the cabins began filling from the June Long-Weekend with all cabins available.

"Now we just take each day as it comes as far as Covid is concerned, but quietly confident of a bright and successful future."

Contact the Shields at Tuckers Lane Boutique on 0423 297 127 or email: accommodation@tuckerslane.com.au

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