An organic accessibility journey for Country House Retreat

Country House Retreat’s accessible features have attracted many visitors.

When Kim and Steve Kleinitz bought Country House Retreat 8 years ago, they immediately set out to make it accessible. One of the bathrooms at the Gippsland, Victoria, holiday house already had a walk-in shower. They soon installed a ramp and rails as well.

‘My brother-in-law uses a wheelchair,’ says Kim. ‘We just saw an opportunity to retrofit the property to make it accessible for wheelchair users.’

The next year Kim and Steve were offered a mobile hoist and adjustable bed. The offer came from guests who no longer needed the equipment. They were keen to help families (like theirs) enjoy hassle-free holidays.

Now, Country House Retreat offers other mobility aids such as a shower chair, wheelchair commode and a bath transfer bench.

Demand for accessible accommodation is rising

Having been accommodation operators, Kim and Steve were aware of the demand for accessible holiday stays. Becoming property owners meant they could make any modifications they wanted.

In the years since, Kim and Steve have attended many regional and state tourism forums. They have noticed an increased focus on accessible tourism.

A return on investment

The local couple has put a lot of effort into making their retreat inclusive. It has paid off.

Kim says: ‘In 2023, over 20% of our room nights represented guests with accessible needs (predominantly mobility related). This equates to around 25% of our income, given the longer, on-average, length of stay these bookings yield.’

A large bed with a mobile hoist next to it.

Country House Retreat offers many accessible features, including a mobile hoist.

Future opportunities

In 2022, Country House Retreat took part in the Austrade-led Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project. This gave Kim and Steve new insights and ideas. They continue to build on what’s already in place.

They have already hosted several guests and groups of people with intellectual disabilities. ‘We have sought feedback from carers and clients. We often meet with them during the stay or follow up via email,’ says Kim.

When time permits, the Kleinitzes hope to improve accessibility for guests with sight- and hearing-related disabilities.

Learn more

Improving the accessibility of tourism destinations and experiences is a priority of THRIVE 2030, Australia’s visitor economy strategy. 

Under THRIVE 2030, the Austrade-led Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project supported 110 tourism operators around Australia to improve accessibility and inclusion thanks to funding from the states, territories and the Commonwealth. Country House Retreat was one of the accessible tourism champions for the project.

The project led to the WELCOME Framework, our guide to help tourism businesses become more accessible and inclusive. Learn more about the WELCOME Framework.

Growing the visitor economy

THRIVE 2030 is Australia’s national strategy for the long-term, sustainable growth of the visitor economy.