Jay and Jade have been part of the team at Hulbert House since early 2017. This young couple with a background in hospitality is passionate about providing personalised experiences for their guests. We put them on the spot to find out more about their roles at Hulbert House and what gets them up in the morning.
What do you love about your role?
Meeting new people and interacting with people from all parts of the world
If there was a ‘typical’ day, what would it be?
Typical day? No such thing! What makes our role so enjoyable is that every day is different.
What makes Hulbert House so special?
Because Hulbert House is so small it means we are able to provide an experience that is unique to each guest. For example we recently had a guest stay with us who really wanted his usual breakfast, shakshuka- which is a traditional middle eastern breakfast. During canapes the night before our guest wrote down the ingredients we needed, we brought them that evening and the following morning Jay was taught by the guest how to make it! It might sound simple, but with only six rooms we can truly tailor the guest experience to what the guest needs. It truely makes it a fun and relaxed environment.
What is your favourite time of the day?
For both of us it would be during canapes- probably because it is the time we really get to interact with the guests. Find out what adventures they have been on, where they plan on going next, and just genuinely getting to know them. The palm lounge is just the best setting for this. You have to imagine the jazz music playing in the background, the fireplace lit, candles burning, guests chatting- it really comes alive.
What is the most interesting request from a guest?
In our first week we had a group of four guests staying ( 2 x couple) for 2 nights. The guests arrived for check in just after 5pm, and they had a rough idea of what they wanted to do, but had not yet booked anything. The list included; helicopter to Milford sound with glacier landing, dinner at the two best restaurants in town, paragliding, jet boat ride, and a bungee jump for the men. The men really wanted to do the Nevis Bungee, which is located on private land and can only be accessed via the provided bus transport, or on request a Helicopter. The men were really interested in this activity and the thought of doing a helicopter there was great, however they had one more request- that they had the entire bungee area to themselves! Once the guests were in the palm lounge and starting their canapes we jumped on the computer/phone and we were able to organise everything! Rata for dinner that evening, Botswana the following evening. Milford Sound the following morning, followed by an afternoon on the Shot over River. The following morning the men did their paraglide- the ladies decided to go to the spa. Although I was able to arrange the private bungee and helicopter- the men decided not to go in the end. All of the above are pretty standard requests for Queenstown, however we were pretty proud of how we were able to magic everything together with such a small window and during the month of March! (fortunately the weather was good to us- which always helps)
What particular Hulbert House detail resonates most with you?
The Hulbert House story. Mr Fukutake really wanted to tell the story of Hulbert House, and the history of the property, and we both agree that this has been achieved. One detail that we particularly like is the naming of each of the suites, each suite is named after someone of some significance to the property. As a host being able to tell our guests checking into the ‘Firth Suite’ that we named the room after the original owner Mr Firth is special. People love to hear the history of the property, and we love being able to tell it.
Which personality trait is essential for your role?
A warm personality, being able to interact and genuinely connect with people from different parts of the world is incredibly important.
Where do you find inspiration for creating your collection of canapes?-
What is your favourite item on the breakfast menu?
Jades: Chia Pot (which is actually from the buffet- but is my go to. Gluten free, and Dairy free pot of goodness.
Jay’s: Lemon and Poppy seed hotcakes with a side of bacon- Bacon served nice and crispy J
What do you do during your time off?
We have two days off together each week and we try and have a “Jades day” and a “Jays day”.. Jades day typically entails something that requires exercise- usually a hike to the top of a mountain or a big bike ride somewhere. Jays day is usually a day of relaxing, usually a movie, we love Dorothy browns cinema out in Arrowtown- it’s a boutique cinema, bar and bookshop, that usually plays more artisan type movies. We love to eat out and try new restaurants, almost every weekend we can be found at Tanoshi- which is a really cool Japanese restaurant in town. As we are approaching winter we will likely be found up the mountain putting our skis / snowboard to good use.
What are the three must-do activities in Queenstown?
This is so hard to choose only three! So the three we have chosen are based on activities heading into winter season…
Gondola: You can’t come to Queenstown and not go up the Gondola- the view is just incredible! In saying that if you are an avid walker / hiker, a walk up Queenstown Hill will give you the same views if not better (about a 2-3 hour round trip from HH)
Ski / Snowboard / Snowmobile: Anything snow related, you can’t come to Queenstown and not have some time in the snow. There are so many options too, including options for people who don’t ski or snow board and just want to be around the magic white stuff, there are snowmobiles, dining in the snow on a private ski field, snowshoeing, and much more.
Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound Helicopter: The Fiordland National Park is a must do. We did a Milford Sound Helicopter, with a glacier landing not long after arriving in Queenstown and it was truly the best experience, and something we recommend all our guests do.
What led you to Hulbert House?
Well we had been living in the UK for 2 years prior to our arrival into Queenstown and Jades visa was nearly up, so we were looking at moving back to NZ to be closer to Jades family. We hadn’t really decided were we were going to live, we just knew that we wanted to be close to nature and not in a big city. When we saw the advertisement for the role at HH we knew we had to apply (even though the original advert was for a single manager and not a couple). For us it was the style of the property, because it was similar to what we were working in previously, and the style of service that we enjoyed. When we applied for the role at Hulbert House we were managing a 12 Bedroom Georgian Manor property, based in the beautiful honey coloured stone city of Bath, England. When we were looking at the role at Hulbert House we noticed a few similarities that we liked, our property in Bath was called ‘Paradise House’ this role was ‘Hulbert House’, in Bath we were located on a hill looking over the city centre (roughly a 5 minute walk to town), Hulbert House had a very similar location too. It wasn’t until our first day that we realised that our address at Hulbert House was number 68, and our previous address in Bath was 86! So it is fair to say that it just felt right.
What background do you have that gives you the abilities to thrive at Hulbert House?
We think that years of customer service roles has really helped us in our position, between us we have a combined 30 years in hospitality, which is pretty incredible considering we are still in our late 20s – mid 30s. Jays hospitality background was running restaurants and setting up award winning bars, he was particularly interested in cocktail mixology and he travelled with this through the USA, the UK, Australia and NZ. Jade had worked in award winning breakfast style cafes, a specialist coffee roaster and was a barista trainer who was passionate about the coffee industry. When we first started dating we were really like ships passing in the night with our hours so when we moved to the UK we decided we were going to try something new. Prior to moving to the UK we had not worked in the accommodation section of hospitality, so we thought we would give it a go. We initially applied for a summer contract in the Isle of Skye, in Scotland, which we got. The role was really a bit of everything, it was accommodation (hostel and B&B), restaurant, and bar management- it really was a little bit like faulty towers at this place, but it was experience that we needed. As our contract in Skye ended, we applied for a Management Couple role in 5 star property located in Bath. Fortunately for us our previous employer took a chance on hiring us with our minimal exposure to the hotel industry. He said in our interview that he could teach us the logistics of running a hotel, but he couldn’t teach personality. We then spent the next 14 months in Bath, this experience was truly invaluable. We both have a really similar work style and we both truly believe that a happy and caring team is what is needed to have happy guests.
What does ‘caring luxury’ mean to you?
It means to provide the best service possible, with warmth, and a genuine care for the person receiving it.