Hereford Lodge Motel owner retires after 22 in Taree

"A smile is the best thing. It costs you nothing." Ron Ali believes customer service is everything and is proud of what he has achieved. Photo: Scott Calvin

"A smile is the best thing. It costs you nothing." Ron Ali believes customer service is everything and is proud of what he has achieved. Photo: Scott Calvin

Regular visitors to the Hereford Lodge Motel in Taree South are going to miss proprietor Ron Ali’s smile.

Ron is retiring after 22 years looking after the motel and the travellers staying in it.

Ron moved to Australia from his native Fiji in 1986. His decision to settle in Sydney to start a new life was a brave one. Although he spoke English it was, of course, not his mother-tongue, and he knew only one person in Australia. Not only that, but he had never been in a big city.

Before moving to Australia Ron had studied hotel management in Fiji.

“I had three choices – be a doctor, or a school teacher. I like people so I decided to take the hotel management course,” Ron said.

“Anyone can be a motelier, but you must like people; you must have a personality.” 

After relocating to Australia he was able to land a job at the Regent Hotel in Sydney. Later he worked as a bank teller and a mail officer at the GPO, among a number of other jobs he tried.

Eventually he decided he would like to experience running a motel of his own and being his own boss.

It’s a beautiful country and I am so proud to be an Australian citizen. If you work hard here you can achieve your goals in life. - Ron Ali

His dream became a reality when Ron and his family friend, Athol Leece, purchased the Hereford Lodge Motel.

The motel was built in the period 1967 to 1972, and had been allowed to run down. Working long hours and seven days a week Ron improved, painted and restored the motel to its former glory.

A keen horticulturist, he established more gardens and planted fruit trees as well as many palms as a memory of his homeland of Fiji. 

For his gardening efforts Ron won prizes in Taree gardening competitions in the Best Commercial or Industrial Owner Maintained section.

After running the motel for more than 22 years, 59-year-old Ron has decided to retire and move to the NSW South Coast.

What he has enjoyed most about the business is meeting all sorts of people from around the world.

Ron says of Australia, “It’s a beautiful country and I am so proud to be an Australian citizen. If you work hard here you can achieve your goals in life.”

Ron is holding a garage sale of his personal belongings on Saturday, March 25 from 8am at the Hereford Lodge Motel on Manning River Drive. 

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