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14 Dec 2017

Southbanker Image

An advocate for Southbank living

Freshwater Place resident and co-founder of local accommodation business Platinum Apartments Melbourne, Helen Dawson, could not love her home in Southbank any more.

Having moved to her Freshwater Place apartment from Gippsland with husband Heath and their four boys Jack, Tom, Ben and William in 2014, Helen said she was so proud of her home and its community.

“Freshwater Place is the best place in Melbourne I think. We think it’s just a great building with great people in a great location,” she said.

“It’s very different coming from the country where it’s very quiet to the city but we love Freshwater. We’re really proud of it.”

While having only recently settled, the family purchased its first apartment in Freshwater Place in 2008 after Heath had been diagnosed with a critical lung condition in 2007, which required regular trips to the Alfred Hospital.

Needing a lung transplant in order to stay alive, the family has suffered its fair share of hardship over the years and, while the worst is now behind Heath, Helen said he was still feeling the effects of his surgery.

“He never smoked but he got a lung disease that set his lungs like concrete,” she said. “The medication you’ve got to go on for anti-rejection is quite toxic and even though it does one job, it does another in that it brought on diabetes. He feels nauseous everyday of the week but he never complains though. He just keeps going.”

Staying in various other hotels and short-stay apartments whenever they used to visit the city, Helen said they could never find anything that was up to scratch.

Hence, she and Heath decided to make their first apartment a short-stay and transform it into a true home away from home for their guests.

And from there, Platinum Apartments Melbourne was born. The family-run business now has 27 luxury Freshwater Place apartments to its name and has welcomed guests from all around the country and the world.

A former nurse, she said she always treated her guests as she would her patients.

It’s that level of care, service and respect that saw their business receive the Travel and Tourism Business of the Year Award at the Optus My Business Awards held in Sydney in November.

Having won the national award over 40 other finalists, Helen said she was blown away to receive such prestigious recognition of her and her family’s efforts.

“It was really surreal when our name was read out because this isn’t a little award. This is for the whole of Australia, so it was extraordinary. I kept thinking is this for real? For us to win this is just amazing.”

As members of the Victorian Accommodation Industry Association (VicAIA) and with Heath being the association’s secretary, Helen said other short-stay operators “doing it badly” constantly frustrated her.

“Short-stay gets so much bad press, we really do. But there are some people that are actually doing it right,” she said. “People who are doing it right get a lot of flack from people that are doing it badly.”

“We’re very proactive in the community and we want people to behave well because the residents here are entitled to their peace and quiet and we do respect that.”

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