Luke Jacobz is known to Australian audiences for his work on Home and Away, The X Factor, and Dancing with the Stars, which he won in 2008. Now, he’s the host for the latest series, Instant Hotel, which will make you laugh, cringe and gasp.
But, he won’t be travelling alone. Meet Juliet Ashworth, former editor-in-chief of Vogue and an award-winning designer who has worked on over 100 projects across Australia and Asia. Together, they will host and judge ten contestants who yearn to strive within the homestay business. And as these players soon find out, like most travel adventures, what might seem like a dream online is not always what you’ll find when you arrive.
“I’ve travelled around other countries before but it’s great to see more of Australia and what it has to offer,” Luke tells us. “I didn’t know there was a town called Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory. I thought it was made up!”
The series taps into the worldwide trend of homeowners renting out their homes as holiday accommodation. “We’ve grabbed couples, friends, even siblings – and they need to be able to open their home to at least eight people,” Luke adds. “They turn their home into an instant hotel and we have them compete against one another. They’re going to have their place judged and scored in relation to house, location, nearby attractions, value for money and the all-important quality of a good night’s sleep.”
Juliet, now a partner and creative director of CHADA, an internationally noted design company specialising in luxury hotels and resorts, tells us that homestays have become a huge movement, especially in Australia.
“I design hotels for a living – and houses are not hotels,” Ashworth says. “You need to know what’s good about your property and play to your strengths. If you have a lot of space, then use that space well. The main reason why people are heading to homestays is meterage. Why stay in a hotel room when you can afford a home? Guests want to live the way owners would in that house.”
An expert in the world of interiors and hotel design, Juliet has a personal favourite resort – and it’s buried right in the heart of the Blue Mountains.
“In Wolgan Valley, there’s a hotel called the Emirates One&Only Resort and Spa. The building is particularly special because it was bought by the sheikh of Dubai – he basically restored the land and is now a conservation area where you can horse ride.”
From the Top End to tropical North Queensland, from Bondi to the Barossa, from Melbourne to the mighty Murray River, Luke and Juliet are on the hunt for Australia’s absolute best ‘Instant Hotel’. So, what are some tips to earn their praise?
“For me, rule one, two and three is cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness,” Juliet firmly declares. “There’s nothing worse than walking into someone’s personal space and seeing their grubbiness around. In some instances, we opened the microwave to uncover bolognese sauce splattered everywhere – it wasn’t a recent incident either.”
“If you are someone interested in creating a homestay, you need to inject your presence in the house, but you don’t want to be intrusive. People want to feel like it’s their place – no sneakers in the corner or half eaten food. And personal medication in the fridge? No, no!”