People and Places
Love Portsea in an instant By Liz Rogers

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Jay Bruno and Leah Johnsen are moving house. Even though it’s just from Elwood to Brighton, it’s not happening in an instant. The chaos that ensues with packing boxes, organising removalists — we get cut off mid-phone call because it’s the moving guys on the other line letting them know they are on their way — and fitting work around the event can get to the best of us. Leah, 28, has just returned from a modelling gig in Mildura, while Jay, her partner in life and on Channel 7’s Instant Hotel, has been left holding the proverbial baby. Personal trainer and drummer Jay, 31, begins: “Leah hassles me to get engaged every day.” Leah interjects: “You are about to be so single! We will get a fur baby soon though. Something ugly. The uglier the better. A boston terrier.” 

It was more than a year ago when these two filmed the second season of Instant Hotel, launched on February 11 this year. Leah had seen the casting call advertised through Facebook, and the pull of a free holiday and being part of a show where travel was the main game was a no-brainer. She continues: “We were so slack filling out the application form. You had to send in a video. Give them an idea of who we were, our backgrounds and why we wanted to be on the show. It was straightforward  because we’ve both been in front of the camera before. I’ve been modelling since I was 18. I was part of Australia’s Next Top Model, and Jay has been performing for ever.”

“I’m a performer at heart,” says Jay. “I’ve been playing the drums since I was three years old, been in bands. My grandparents had a holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula while I was growing up. We spent all summer there and I loved it. Our Portsea Instant Hotel is a friend’s beach house. We wanted to future-proof our life and they were looking to rent out the house, which was the perfect fit. It’s in the ideal position. Close by to the Portsea pub, the beaches and golf courses.”

“I love the wineries and visit the Portsea Polo every year. You can always get a great coffee on the Peninsula too,” says Leah. 

With hopes of building new careers in the world of home hoteling and television presenting, Jay and Leah are on their way to securing a bright future through a show that has enabled them to see parts of Australia they wouldn’t have necessarily visited. Leah’s favourite spot was Coober Pedy in South Australia while Jay’s heart lies with the Gold Coast. He continues: “I suppose it was the beaches that remined me of the coast here.” Leah joins in: “I like to go places I haven’t been before. The Outback was a completely new experience for me.”

Tune into the show to get a close-up and personal view of Portsea and see four teams battle it out for the title of best Instant Hotel. Host and judge Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen and judge Juliet Ashworth are set to have some ‘lively exchanges’ too.

Instant Hotel airs on Seven at 9pm on Mondays.

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