Heather D’Arcy is selling up Sussex House to work for McDonald’s as the chief information officer. Photo: Supplied.

High-flying executive puts historic B&B back on market


Heather D’Arcy needed a break, so five years ago she bought a historic bed and breakfast overlooking the Maitai River.

She was fresh from working in Zurich as a vice president for computer giants Dell Corporation and then Hewlett Packard.

“I was burned out,” she says. “So, I said ‘I’m going home. I’m done’.”

After previously living in the U.S for 20-odd years, she wanted to head back to New Zealand and thought the best place to settle down for a bit might be Nelson.

“I came back from overseas and I wanted to do something different. I had been in IT my whole career so instead of travelling the world I thought it would be better to let the world travel to me.”

So, she went from managing multimillion-dollar budgets to managing a bed and breakfast.

Heather bought the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom Sussex House on Bridge St. As soon as she walked in the door, she knew this was the place.

“It really is a beautiful home. From the minute you walk in it sort of envelopes you. I just walked in the door and I hadn’t even been upstairs, and I thought ‘this is it’.”

Heather got her wish. Most of the people who stayed at Sussex House were from overseas.

“Nelson is such a drawcard for them.”

The home dates back to 1880 when it was built by the local haberdashery. The family owned the part of the CBD where the Vodafone building is now.

“They owned that whole block – they had seven children,” says Heather. “It was a family home.”

But, for a long time, it was Heather’s home. That is until McDonald’s came calling. At the end of last year Heather closed up the B&B after being headhunted by the global fast food giant to come and live in Chicago and be its chief information officer.

Rather than changing sheets and making guests breakfast, she is now responsible for the development and execution of the technology strategy and delivery of all technology products and services to 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States.

Hence why she has now put the home on the market.

“It would be wonderful if someone would like to transfer it back into a family home but for tourists coming in, they love the proximity to the city looking over the river,” she says. “It’s just a lovely house to be in. It could be anything – could be a doctor’s office. Whatever you want to make it.”

It is due to be sold by tender by Harcourts on June 24, unless sold prior.

“I would say whoever is the person buying it, is buying a beautiful home,” Heather says.