Close to the heart of Nelson City lies Chelsea Park Motor Lodge, run by the dynamic duo, Tomoko Morimoto and Dean Brunell. With roots firmly planted in the rich soils of hospitality and travel, their story unfolds like a travelogue, capturing the essence of their diverse backgrounds and the journey that led them to become proud owners of this charming lodge.
Tomoko, hailing from Japan, embarked on her New Zealand odyssey 28 years ago. Armed with a tourism management degree from Victoria University and 19 years of experience as an international cabin crew member, her life took an unexpected turn with the arrival of COVID-19. Dean, her partner in both life and business, joined her in the pursuit of a new venture after his own extensive career in similar fields.
Tomoko says, “I always wanted to travel outside of Japan and New Zealand appealed to me and the time was right for myself to make the move.” Her initial exposure to New Zealand was through her work with a tour company, sparking a love for the Kiwi lifestyle that transformed a two-year plan into a permanent stay.
Dean, originally from Christchurch, was experienced in hospitality and played rugby in Canada. He eventually found his calling as an international flight attendant. Something he always wanted to do. His journey led him to meeting Tomoko through a mutual friend, and together, they navigated the highs and lows of the aviation industry until COVID-19 reshaped their course.
The couple’s shared passion for helping people and the desire to craft their own story led them to Chelsea Park Motor Lodge in August 2021. Nelson, chosen not only for its scenic beauty but also for its potential to offer a warm, inviting atmosphere to travellers, became the canvas for their new adventure and a perfect place to bring up their daughter, Mia.
Embracing the challenge of transitioning from employees to business owners, the couple brings a wealth of knowledge from their diverse backgrounds.
Since taking over the lodge, Tomoko and Dean have transformed it into a haven for guests seeking comfort, personalised service, and a touch of sustainability. Their commitment to creating a positive experience for guests is evident. The rooms, ranging from Queen Studios to King Studios and one or two-bedroom apartments, offer a variety that caters to every traveller’s needs.
What sets Chelsea Park Motor Lodge apart is the thoughtful amenities provided in each room. Free Wi-Fi ensures guests stay connected, and all units come equipped with a kitchenette for added convenience. Parking is a breeze with one free car park per unit, and the lodge prioritises sustainability by offering two electric vehicle charging points on a first-come, first-served basis.
For those requiring easy access and mobility-friendly accommodations, Chelsea Park Motor Lodge has units with wheelchair-accessible showers. The commitment to inclusivity extends to pet lovers. Pet-friendly accommodations are available by prior arrangements.
The accolades received by Chelsea Park Motor Lodge reflect the couple’s dedication to excellence. The lodge proudly boasts the TripAdvisor Travellers Best of the Best 2023 Award and an impressive 9 out of 10 rating on Booking.com, coupled with the esteemed Booking.com Reviewers Award.
Beyond the day-to-day operations, they enjoy spending time as a family with their daughter Mia and actively engage with the Nelson community. Dean and Tomoko participate in networking groups like BNI, fostering connections and contributing to the local business scene. Dean frequents the gym and occasionally crafts his own beer.
As advocates for sustainability, Tomoko and Dean have incorporated eco-friendly practices into the lodge. From EV charging stations to LED lighting and providing eco-friendly products, they are dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint. The couple also shares their joy of helping guests, recounting instances where they went the extra mile to ensure a memorable stay, like arranging special transportation or booking tours for the guests. Despite the challenges of running a business, they revel in the satisfaction of providing a welcoming space for travellers.
Looking forward, Tomoko and Dean envision more events and activities to draw visitors to Nelson, fostering a sense of community and vitality.
Chelsea Park Motor Lodge is not just a place to stay; it’s an embodiment of Tomoko and Dean’s passion for hospitality, sustainability, and community. With an ever-evolving commitment to excellence, the lodge stands as a testament to their journey, welcoming guests into a warm embrace that echoes the spirit of Nelson itself.
Explore the virtual tour at Chelsea Park Motor Lodge