Award-winning B&B fuses modern tastes at wild place
WHEN guests turn up to Les and Leanne Fleet's bed and breakfast, Mary Valley Views, they don't often expect to witness their own reality TV show.
But the wild wallabies that muck about in front of the house provide all the drama and intrigue most visitors need, Les says.
"We have a lot of wildlife here - wallabies - and they're intriguing," he said. "It's like watching a reality TV show. You've got 15 wallabies all fighting, loving, arguing. They're still wild, you can't got down and pat them, but they're right in front of you."
Les was surprised when the B&B they opened two-and-a-half years ago was nominated for a Sunshine Coast Tourism Award this year, and blown away when they won the Accommodation - Classic category.
Having the merit of the B&B's business approach recognised made Les feel more adventurous, he said.
"To be selected by your peers is a great honour in a way, and what it does is it just validates a lot of your planning that you'd done before," he said.
"And it gives you a little bit of inspiration to try something new."
Mary Valley Views sits atop a hill overlooking the village of Imbil, with views to Pomona and the rolling hills of the Mary Valley.
But while the typical B&B in the area might be an old Queenslander home on farmland, Les and Leanne's research led them to design something modern.
"We did our homework properly," Les said.
"There was research on Australian tourism about what the market was like and what people wanted."
The space could be combined so that people who wanted to chat with the owners through their experience could do so, while more private enjoyment of the space was also possible.
"One half is dedicated to guests in the B&B, and the other half is for our living."
"We get tonnes of feedback," Les said.
"They (guests) love the fresh food. They love the view."
Les and Leanne use local produce in the meals they prepare for guests, and worked closely with Visit Sunshine Coast and Destination Gympie Region to promote the area.
The Fleets moved to the Mary Valley from Brisbane where they had both been professionals, Les working as a business consultant.
They bought a block of land in the area they'd come to love through camping and fishing trips, designing and building a B&B that celebrates 180-degree views.
The now-abandoned Traveston Crossing Dam project had put their plans to open on hold, Les said, as the State Government had bought land that "would have been bulldozed", effectively freezing visitor interest in the area.
When the project was put aside and the land sold back to private owners, the Mary Valley's profile started to lift as land sales drove interest in the area, Les said, and he and Leanne decided to open for business.
They haven't looked back, doubling their guest numbers since they opened and "loving the rural life".