Clare Lynton
August 29, 2020

Q&A with Tiny Away Founder Adrian Chia

As part of our #RediscoveringAustralia series, we've been doing a bit of digging around for one-off, unique stays in regional Australia. Many of them have been newly established, or given a new breath of life over the decades. We wanted to showcase the people and owners behind these stays, and learn about their stories.

Here's kicking off our first New Gen Stays Q&A with Adrian Chia, founder of Tiny Away. Bringing together tiny houses and eco-tourism, Adrian and 2 of this friends pooled together $100k to get started in 2017. Fast forward to now, Tiny Away's tiny houses (complete with modern day luxuries) are nestled amongst picturesque locations across New South Wales and Victoria. Each offers a place to get off-grid and recharge, surrounded by nature. Minimalism at its best.

So if your Marie Kondo attempts this lockdown didn't quite go to plan, might be time for a tiny house escape 😉

Photo by @tom__quan

Tell us about your story — how did you go from a trip along the Great Ocean Road, to building tiny houses?!

Tiny Away was born out of a desire to improve the life of rural farmers and city dwellers. Based between Singapore and Victoria, we opened our first tiny home in Picton, New South Wales in 2018, and have since grown to host close to 50 eco-friendly locations across NSW and Victoria.

The inspiration for Tiny Away came from time spent in Australia on holidays in 2016. Coming from one of the most densely populated cities in the world, I spent time ‘recharging’ on a farm stay in rural Victoria which is when I fell in love with the Australian bushland and the scenic escape it provided from the city. During this trip I also observed the challenges faced by many rural farmers where their livelihood depends on mother nature. And thus the idea for Tiny Away was born.

Tiny Away partners with unique rural property owners to enable guests to enjoy the most spectacular rural settings, carefully selected to ensure guests enjoy the most enriching experience possible. No upfront capital is needed to get involved, we provide land owners with a fully furnished (and mobile) tiny house including all the necessary fittings ready for guests to stay, and we share part of the revenue with landowners.

Photo by @tom__quan

What is your vision for Tiny Away — what’s next on the cards?

We believe you don’t have to compromise comfort when living tiny, so ensure each tiny home is well equipped with everything you need to make your stay as luxurious as possible. Perfect for those who love to experience the outdoors but feel more comfortable with the creature comforts, Tiny Away allows you to take your glamping experience to the next level with hot showers, air conditioning, kitchenette, queen bed, and an eco toilet. Providing all the comfort of a tiny boutique luxury hotel, in picturesque and secluded locations. Discover Nature. Stay in Comfort — is our tagline!

Moving forward, we plan to increase our listings across NSW and Victoria, with hopes of expanding into Queensland and South Australia by the end of 2020. Demand for the tiny house getaway has been very strong and we are also preparing to develop Australia’s first escape of 30 tiny houses in scenic land along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria.

Photo by @nanju_snap

What does the perfect Tiny Away experience in regional Australia look like?

From the beginning, we have worked closely with Australian farm and property owners to curate authentic and unique farm stay experiences, and help farmers leverage local tourism to generate a second income. Staying with Tiny Away provides an opportunity to stay in unique spaces and connect with our land hosts. This magical experience would not have been possible without the support of our hosts, who have been very generous in sharing their beautiful piece of land with our guests.

Nature is one of the best healing and teaching environments. When we spend time to reconnect with nature, we heal, re-energise and revitalise ourselves. Just sit and listen quietly to the sounds, spend time in nature and practise dadirri — an indigenous approach to healing. Gather around campfires, listen to each other’s stories and really spend time together. We hope that our guests will leave all their worries behind. Sit back, relax and give permission to truly enjoy each other’s company and their time with Mother Nature.

Explore the neighbourhood and support local businesses. It’s a great way to feel more like a local. We encourage our guests to ask hosts about their favourite neighbourhood spots!

Photo by @declan_blackall

Who is the Tiny Away experience designed for?

Given the international trend in tiny houses, we have taken things one step further by partnering with land hosts and placing our beautifully designed homes on wheels in spectacular rural settings, surrounded by nature. We believe that all good things should be shared. Tiny Away gives people (especially stressed out city lovers!), a chance to experience this unique lifestyle; to discover nature and stay in comfort.

Photo by @tom__quan

How has COVID impacted and driven change in what you do?

Post COVID, staycations and road trips will be favoured over flying or cruising. Many reports have signalled that staycations will be the new vacation for many of us. Besides that, domestic travellers will prefer properties that have larger open spaces and are not as high-volume. Guests will want to be outside, rather than confined indoors. ‘Closer to nature’ experiences will be high priority. Combining the concept of tiny house with eco-tourism meets this perfectly. Having our tiny houses on wheels also makes it so much easier to move them to the perfect spot in the property.

Hoteliers predict that travellers will prefer smaller and less dense hotels and outdoor amenities and this has been observed in Tiny Away. Demand has been very strong for tiny houses and in June 2020, we are 100% booked out for all weekends in most of our houses. We also see an increase of more than double in the number of bookings.

Tiny Away has put in place a set of COVID Safe Plans to ensure the safety of guests and land hosts. We have encouraged contactless check in and out procedures. This may vary depending on the hosts, but safe distance will be maintained throughout. The houses will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected according to Safe Work Australia’s cleaning guide. Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected after every guest checks out and antibacterial hand soap will be provided.

Do you have a travel story, business, or experience in regional Australia that deserves to be shared?

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