A $1.75 million luxury hotel and spa at Corowa is a nod to the tourism potential of the Murray River town.
Kevin and Ririn Yaxley opened Circa 1936 in the town’s former Rural Bank during October after a two-year renovation of the Art Deco building.
Mr Yaxley said the couple looked at seven regions around the country before they settled on Corowa.
“Corowa has the river, proximity to the wine region, the Federation story and so much potential,” he said.
“Corowa is like a freight train ready to roll; it’s already got the chocolate factory, it only takes one or two more developments and you have a different version of Beechworth or Myrtleford.”
Having met in Papua New Guinea where Mr Yaxley managed high-end hotels and apartments, the couple returned to Australia in 2012 with plans to open their own luxury accommodation.
Ms Yaxley said Corowa ticked all of the boxes for their first hotel development, which included being sited on the main street.
“t took exactly two years to renovate the building until the opening,” she said.
The two-storey hotel, Circa 1936, has three guest suites, a day spa, lounge and bar.
Highlights of the interior design – all chosen by the couple – include petrified timber tabletops, aged log wood sculptures, a hammered copper slipper clawfoot bathtub, a torso fashioned from coins and copper-plated plough disks.
Indonesian-born Ms Yaxley, who has a background in the spa and wellness industry, said the spa focused on natural therapies using remedies made on site.
She said they also used their own line of Nouveau skincare products.
“The focus of all our treatments is on relaxation,” she said.
The Lounge at Circa 1936 offers coffee, sweet treats and desserts, tapas, cheese and antipasti seven days a week. Craft beer and local wines stocked in the original bank vault are available by the glass or bottle.
A pianist plays on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons.
The Yaxleys, who have daughters aged 3 and 9, said the development had been a labour of love.
The former bank manager’s office houses the bar, where a Circa Bank Account scheme allows patrons to direct some monies to local schools and charities.
An online shop offers Circa 1936 products and wares at www.bycirca.com.