Leyburn moteliers Tim and Michael Salvestro.
Leyburn moteliers Tim and Michael Salvestro.

Motel owner prepares for sprints

WHAT makes a young bloke in his 20s swap the buzz of a job in the hospitality sector in Sydney and Melbourne for the laidback pace of Leyburn?

Tim Salvestro is straightforward: “There is nothing like walking into a pub where everybody knows you.”

The former Leyburn schoolboy returned home a few months ago, after three years working around Australia in the hospitality sector.

And while there will be more than a few unfamiliar faces in Leyburn’s Royal Hotel tonight, Mr Salvestro is not complaining.

In fact as the newest manager of his family-owned Leyburn Motel he is more than willing to welcome the hordes of newcomers that signal the start of the annual Leyburn Sprints.

After his experience in marketing, sales and management he has an even keener appreciation for the crowd-drawing spectacle that is the Sprints.

Yet the same experience has also made him realise his heart is in the bush.

“After you have travelled a bit, you start to realise how important lifestyle is,” Mr Salvestro said.

“I missed my family and the sense of community that comes with living in a town where people know you and care about each other.”

The Salvestro family originally moved to Leyburn from the New South Wales central coast more than a decade ago.

Tim’s father Michael describes himself as one of the “first tree changers”.

“We were in earthmoving and tree lopping and we decided we wanted a different sort of lifestyle for our kids,” Michael explained.

“So we ended up looking at real estate in Warwick and while we were there we noticed land was half the price at Leyburn.”

With their interest piqued the family drove west, inspecting a lifestyle property and signing the contract the same day.

In 2003 they bought the local motel and have spent the past seven years revamping and extending the complex.

“When Tim came back we handed it over to him; I think it needed a fresh approach,” Michael said.

This weekend the motel, which can comfortably accommodate about 24 people, is already booked out.

“We have people from all over the country turn up for the sprints, it is undoubtedly one of the major events on the local calendar,” Michael said.

“Nowadays, despite being a little way off the track, I think Leyburn would have to be one of the best known small towns in Australia.”

A fact Mr Salvestro Senior attributes to the pulling power of motor racing coupled with that other well-known local identity – footballer Shane Webcke.

“As a motel we definitely benefit, as does the whole local economy from the ‘Webcke experience’,” he said.

“Shane has done a lot to put Leyburn on the map and we are very grateful.”

Today the Salvestro family’s motel offers another drawcard for customers.

“We put some logs out and had a campfire one night and, you know, we get people coming out asking if we can do another one while they are here,” Mr Salvestro said.

“I guess you forget when you live out here all the time that there is not space or opportunity for that sort of thing in the city.

“So sometimes it is the simple things that draw people to places like Leyburn.”

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