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What Australian Hospitality Pros Want You To Know About The Business Of Relaxation

Hot stone massage for you, early mornings for them

By Journy Admin

3 August 2018

Sit by the pool, sip your fresh-pressed juice, breathe in that fresh Byron air. There's nothing to do until yoga tomorrow morning, then your hot stone massage after.

This is life at The Byron at Byron Resorts and Spas. But despite the relaxing atmosphere, this spa means serious business.

The Byron at Byron

Meet John and Lyn Parche, the husband-and-wife team who keep resort life tranquil. Between the two of them they have countless years of hospitality experience in five countries. Their know-how is evident as soon as you step into your suite and spot the Buddha statue sitting next to the TV. Spirituality, meet reality.

John got his start in the hospitality biz serving the likes of Neil Diamond, Elton John and Michael Jackson at The Belvedere Hotel in Sydney. This was back in 1963, before any hotel chain of note had made it big in Australia.

"I have a theory that if you can succeed in running a hotel in Australia, you can make it work pretty much anywhere in the world," John says. "We have a population the size of Los Angeles, but we're the size of the US. We're geographically a long way away from everything, so there's a not a service mentality."

The Byron at Byron

After a few years at The Belvedere, John packed his bags for England, where he studied hospitality. He worked at The Dorchester. He worked at Grosvenor Hotel. That wasn't enough, so he moved to Portugal and turned an abandoned pig farm into a restaurant. Cue a few too many chefs calling in ill at 6am and he called it quits to return to Australia.

Then this story takes a fairytale turn: John and Lyn locked eyes across the room at a charity function. They went on a marathon 5-hour lunch date, followed by tea the next week. They've worked and lived together ever since.

Julia Chapple

Back to The Bryon and those views, a stone's throw away from the bay. That secluded-but-not-secluded spot in an area where new spas are springing up like wildflowers. Even Olivia Newton-John has opened one, called Gaia Resort.

But Newton-John's spa doesn't have The Byron's better-than-Paris croissants or kookaburra vying for your steak. And it doesn't have John and Lyn's individual attention.

"I prefer to work for smaller chains or individual hotels," says John. "If you're skilled and professional, you should be allowed to use your brain. At big hotels, other people devise terms, conditions, regulations."

The Byron at Byron

John's personalized approach led him to work one-on-one with hotel legend Adria Zecha. After working together at location-driven resorts in Sri Lanka and Bangkok, the duo teamed up to develop a wellness retreat at Canyon Ranch.

It would have been located in Australia's rocky and wild Northern Territories. The retreat would have been the first of its kind in the location. But after four years of on-the-ground work, local aboriginal rights activists continued to fight its development. When John and Zecha realized the money they were about to sink into legal fees would outpace profits for years to come, they left.

The Byron at Byron

Cue a break of a few years and John and Lyn met Australian entrepreneur Gerry Harvey. At the time he was looking for an experienced pair to open the new resort he was dreaming up. And so the duo went to Byron.

Lounging poolside, it's hard not to think they made the right choice. The boutique service guests receive has earned Byron accolades such as a spot in World's Luxury Spa awards, top baby-moon destination according to Australian Babies R Us and most delicious luxury spa according to Gourmet Traveller.

The Byron at Byron

But we're curious: where do hard working hospitality pros go to relax?

"We love America," comments John, "I've lived in Las Vegas and San Diego." But it's not just about the sights, Lyn insists, "[Americans] know that we need something before everyone else realizes it. Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube: they all come from America."

The Byron at Byron