“Excuse me! Did I hear you say twenty years?” I asked our newly arrived guests in amazement. “Yes!” all four replied in unison.
I was in the throes of introducing a family of four to their Flyinn vacation, and accommodation for the following week, when I learned the extent of their plans. Wow! This certainly was special.
Back around the year 2000, Matt and I posted a mailing of black and white postcards to a list of pilots living in the USA. The internet was still in its infancy. We had been searching for ways to let overseas pilots and their families know about our small company. Situated in the depths of the south island of New Zealand, we felt a long way from everywhere. This was pre-“Lord of the Rings” days, the movies most credited for putting New Zealand’s scenery on the world stage. We were very new, and thought we’d give the postcards a go. At the time we received little feedback, so did not follow this idea again.
What a thrill to learn that these people in front of me had harbored a dream sparked from that little card. Dad Andrew, was an experienced general aviation and commercial pilot; he and his wife Cindy loved to fly. Daughter Christine had nurtured her dream to fly, and recently acquired her pilot's licence. She was here together with her partner Steve. When they booked as a group, I mentioned being excited for them all sharing this experience. But, now, I was almost as excited as them! What a privilege for Flyinn!
However, shortly after learning how special this vacation was, I also learned that our cheerfully enthusiastic guests were uncertain of one thing: in all their years of dreaming, they had envisaged staying at Geordie Hill Station – the farm where Flyinn was initially based before the recent shift to Wanaka. How totally understandable! I could sense their disappointment. The change had been a big decision for Matt and I, and we anticipated some letdown, but I was not prepared to this extent. Would our new arrangement meet expectations? Our decision weighed heavily in that moment.
Facing my friendly family, I put thoughts aside and explained our decision. For many years, Geordie Hill had been renting neighbouring cottages for farm staff, and this was no longer possible. The farm once again required it's cottages. The fortunate part was, Geordie Hill is very near the beautiful township of Wanaka which was the obvious choice for Flyinn guest accommodation. Its stunning location, excellent services and restaurants, plus easy access to the airport, all made good sense. Right now, though, we were only "one previous guest-group deep" into the new system. I relayed their excellent reviews to my listening guests, and hoped my explanation and all our planning would be enough to meet their expectations.
Within very few days our guest family reported feeling well-settled into their comfortable, homely, family-style accommodation in Wanaka. They were enjoying the area: the scenic walk to town along the lake, the great selection of restaurants and their own vehicle for transport. Finding their way to and from the airport was straight-forward and, on a day off flying, they enjoyed venturing further afield. The excursion to Geordie Hill became a highlight during their week, and we all enjoyed the visit and dinner that evening. Meanwhile, the Flyinn itinerary routine had not changed at all. Each day was full of exceptional flying through beautifully scenic mountains and landscapes, with full hosting for both pilots and non-pilots, and interesting destinations for all.
In Christine’s words “Just want to say we had an absolutely spectacular time. There's nothing else like it - it truly is the vacation of a lifetime, flying, scenery, adventures (I've learned so much it is leaking out of my ears already) and we'll never forget it. I'm especially pleased by the hat. Dinner was also amazing".
Thank you, Meranda family, for staying with your dream and joining Flyinn! We appreciate your story, and thoroughly enjoyed the privilege.