WAYNE CROSS & CHRIS MALDEN
Owners Chris Malden and Wayne Cross have always harboured a passion for historic buildings. Many projects have been undertaken, where they have not only restored heritage buildings, rescuing them from decrepitude, but also bestowed upon them an appropriate place in our modern world. Their award winning works have included restoring a 1920's Melbourne printing factory, an old leatherworks and even a 19th Century Church. These were all transformed into one-of-a-kind modern, spacious homes and grand open-plan loft style apartments; beautifully furbished, yet retaining the historic integrity and rustic nature of their origins.
It seems appropriate that, with Chris’s background as a chef and in event management, combined with Wayne’s industrial construction and property development experience, these two now own a two historic hotels and an heritage listed 1860’s Italian Villa.
It all began with a search for a weekend retreat in Daylesford. This area proved to be the perfect place to escape; just a leisurely drive away from their busy Melbourne city life into a peaceful rural haven. Their search led them to a rundown Tudor style reception centre/cafe in Hepburn Springs which they purchased and began to restore. By the mid 90’s, Chris and Wayne were creating more weekend escapes in the region, in what was the beginnings of their first business venture in Daylesford.
They realised their contemporary, architectural-based style was just what was the region needed to revive its dwindling tourist industry; as savvy city dwellers were beginning to seek more than just simple old world charm. As the business grew, Wayne’s parents Brian and Heather Cross were recruited as property managers and Daylesford Getaways was officially launched. Providing guests with Australia’s first complete online accommodation booking and payment system.
With a rapidly growing portfolio of holiday rental property owners, Chris and Wayne moved permanently to the area and have since taken an active interest in developing the region; working closely alongside local and regional tourism bodies, as well as Tourism Victoria.
As their experience in hospitality grew, Chris and Wayne saw an opportunity to round out guest accommodation options in the region - adding a fully serviced hotel to the mix. So it was a logical next step to purchase the historic 1930's icon, The Mineral Springs Hotel, and then a few years later, the adjacent historical landmark, Villa Parma.
Chris and Wayne have since then, added farming to their repertoire; owning and running Birch Estate, a 400 acres farm that introduces rare breed cattle and sheep into the region. They've also planted extensive organic vegetable gardens and orchards. The plan is that eventually Birch Estate will be the primary source of produce and provisions for the various Spa Country business units.
The most recent development project of Chris and Wayne is the restoration of the heritage listed Club Hotel in Clunes, soon to be re-launched, later in 2011, as Birch Club; with restaurant, cafe and wedding facilities. Watch this space.