New owners aiming for feel of old English pub

SHARE

The new owners of the Bannockburn Hotel, Anna and Andy Mackintosh, say Central Otago is ‘‘good for your soul’’.
The husband and wife team who have bought the historic hotel in partnership with good friends Deb and Martin Day say the decision to trade their busy life in Melbourne for one in New Zealand’s most inland town was not a difficult decision to make.
‘‘At the end of the day we are both born and bred New Zealanders, having grown up in Auckland,’’ Mrs Mackintosh said.
She had received a text from her new business partner in February talking of the wellknown hotel.
‘‘We had done the Otago Central Rail Trail from Middlemarch to Clyde and had gone ‘Wow’, so the possibility struck such a chord.’’
Running a country pub is a far cry from the couple’s previous life of ‘‘pop up’’ restaurant ownership and event management in cities including London, Auckland and Melbourne.
Mr Mackintosh said he had spent 25 years working as a tour manager and sound engineer for international acts including the Rolling Stones and the Spice Girls, but the lifestyle came at a cost.
‘‘I’d be away for nine months of the year — it became crazy,’’ he said.
Revamping a country pub and its restaurant and planning how to bring it into the 21st century while retaining its sense of history was now the goal.
‘‘It is definitely a different pace of life here. A bit of a change, but buying this was not a difficult decision to make — one we could not pass up,’’ Mrs Mackintosh said.
The hotel, built in 1935, is not classed as a historic building but is situated on an archaeological site.
Mr and Mrs Mackintosh say they want to become part of the community and since opening last week have been overwhelmed by local support.
‘‘We have had such a warm welcome. Everyone has been really positive and wants us to be successful.’’
While any changes will be phased in ‘‘softly and slowly’’, the Mackintoshes say the one thing they want to do is to reconnect with the winter season and help give people a reason to come to Cromwell.
‘‘But we will continue to ensure the locals are looked after. People like coming here and spending a couple of hours where people know who you are.
‘‘Ideally, we hope this will look and feel like an old English pub, one people can be proud of.’’
Mr Mackintosh said he was looking forward to working with the local wine industry and embracing the many events that were centred at Bannockburn.