Great Northern Hotel in Byron sells for nearly $80m in ‘biggest hotel sale of 2021’

The Great Northern Hotel in Byron Bay.

One of Byron Bay’s biggest watering holes has changed hands in what has been described as the “biggest hotel sale of 2021”.

The Great Northern Hotel and adjacent 51 room Lateen Lane Hotel sold via an invitation-only sale by JLL Hotels and Hospitality Group on behalf of long-time owners the Mooney family.

The family had operated the landmark pub, known to many locals as “The Northern”, for close to three decades.

The price was not disclosed but industry insiders revealed it would likely have been near $80 million considering the size and location of the hotel.

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The new owners were Melbourne-based duo Scott Didier, founder and CEO of ASX listed Johns Lyng Group, and Scott Emery, founder of online lender MoneyMe.

Mr Didier’s family solely acquired the 51 room Lateen Lane Hotel and his Byron-based daughter Casey will run the day-to-day operations.

The hotel is on one of Byron Bay’s main streets.

The Northern is among a recent spate of high-profile pub sales in the booming Byron Bay region.

Pub baron Justin Hemmes’ Merivale group recently acquired Cheeky Monkey’s for $13.5 million, while the Laundy family purchased The Lennox in nearby Lennox Head for around $40 million.

Mr Didier and Mr Emery have a 30-year association with Byron and have other hospitality and commercial investments in the area.

Mr Didier said the pair were “delighted” to be the new custodians of The Northern.

“(It’s a) privileged opportunity to engage with the local community in the next incarnation of this very special pub, in such a special place,” he said.

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Stu Laundy bought The Lennox in nearby Lennox Head. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Set on a 2000sqm corner position on Byron Bay’s main retail thoroughfare Jonson St, The Northern has 20 accommodation rooms, restaurant, bars and drive-through bottle shop.

“The pub is basically an acre,” said JLL senior vice president Ben McDonald, who teamed up with fellow pub specialist John Musca to manage the sale.

Mr McDonald said Byron’s spectacular rise as a tourism market has spurred considerable investment in the area.

“It’s gone from a small surfer town to attracting four million tourists a year,” he said. “From an investment point of view, it has become a very attractive place. The growth has been phenomenal.”

Justin Hemmes at Home

Justin Hemmes’s pub group bought Cheeky Monkey’s in Byron. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts

JLL revealed it fielded “countless” unsolicited approaches for The Northern from a “star-studded line up of the country’s biggest and best hotel operators”.

“Whilst this sale represents the biggest pub transaction of 2021, we believe that the Byron Bay story has a long way to run,” Mr McDonald said.

Andrew Langsford, JLL senior vice president, said: “Byron Bay has flourished as one of Australia’s eminent lifestyle tourism destinations.

“Like many other regional Australian leisure locations, it sits high on the priority list for accommodation investors. We received a huge amount engagement in this campaign.”