Your Business: Corporate burnout inspired innovation

By Gill South

High achiever Janine Hall opted out of the corporate rat race. Photo / Supplied
High achiever Janine Hall opted out of the corporate rat race. Photo / Supplied

Janine Hall has done what many corporate type As dream of.

She has opted out of the rat race, set up a luxury surfing-yoga retreat in Bali catering to women, giving herself the lifestyle she always wanted.

She hasn't lost her ambition - she plans to set up the same model in Australia's Byron Bay and would like to do a boat-based spa retreat in the Maldives in the longer term.

The former head of marketing at The Warehouse is a high achiever whose career began at IBM, then Air New Zealand and on to Selfridges in London, who decided to take a risk three years ago.

She ran her first Surf Haven Bali luxury retreat in March 2010, doing five in the first year, 35 the following year and 35 are planned for this year.

Around 10 women stay at each retreat and Hall has achieved 98 per cent occupancy since she started.

Prices for one week start from US$2495 ($2997) to US$3195.

Hall has just launched week-long rejuvenation retreats, this time with no surfing but a yoga, cuisine and spa experience including sunrise yoga, luxury spa sessions and culinary foodie tours.

Hall was inspired after going to a retreat in Bali a few years before she made the break.

She was feeling burnt out in recession-hit New Zealand at The Warehouse. Hall was working too hard, not taking enough time for friends and family or her well-being.

During her week there, she was put on an eating programme and did yoga for the first time. "I thought: 'What if I could devise a programme for other women like me, type As who needed time out for themselves, with a focus on getting back to basics'," she says.

Hall has women between the ages of 18 and 72 learning surfing at Surf Haven Bali.

The entrepreneur leases two villas, five minutes walk from the beach in Seminyak and 20 minutes from the airport. There are spa treatment rooms, a fitness studio, tropical lawns, a massive free-form pool and four 24/7 butlers.

"One of the blessings of working in Bali is they are born with the service gene, they speak great English, they are so happy to please," says Hall, who has 40 staff.

Surf Haven Bali attracts Australian, American, Canadian and Asian women and more and more Kiwis in the past six months. Most women are between 25 and 45.

"We are targeting busy women. We get a lot of young mums, women who are highly accomplished, stay-at-home mums, women who have a sense of adventure and want to try something new."

She has invested in website marketing and Surf Haven Bali is ranked number three on TripAdvisor for accommodation in Bali.

The next step for Hall is to take the Surf Haven brand to Byron Bay in the next one to two years.

"When I do country assessments the question is, does it already have a footfall? I want to piggyback on the market," says Hall.

She has run her business from cash only up until now, managing risk by leasing the Bali property and reinvesting in the business, but external investors are not out of the question for Byron Bay.

Hall's long-term plan is to spend more time back in New Zealand.

"Ultimately what I'd love to do once I have set up these regional hubs, is to put in very good GMs and to be in New Zealand six months a year," she says.

- NZ Herald

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