Qatar Airways eyes off Melbourne’s Sheraton

The Sheraton on Little Collins St, Melbourne.

Qatar Airways is firming as the likely buyer of the Sheraton Melbourne in Little Collins Street for about $135 million in what would mark the Middle Eastern carrier’s entry into the local hotel sector.

The airline has been chasing a berth in the Australian hotel sector for some years as it looks to become a hotel owner in its key destinations, which include the Victorian capital.

Melbourne-based developer Golden Age put the Sheraton Hotel Melbourne on the block in January, seeking up to $140 million, as it sought to reorganise its holdings after buying a neighbouring site in the city.

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Golden Age, owned by Chinese-born Jeff Xu, last year snapped up an adjacent site in Melbourne’s Spring St from private developer Grocon for about $75 million.

Selling the 174-room hotel allows the company to cash in on the rising value of hotel assets and help it fund its new projects in Melbourne and Sydney.

The Sheraton is considered a prize of the city’s hotel market and sits at the “Paris end” of Little Collins Street, near the city’s celebrated laneways that house leading shops, restaurants and the city’s main theatres and would sit well in the growing hotel portfolio being assembled by Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways also owns the Novotel Edinburgh Park Hotel in Scotland, with that hotel managed by Accor, and in its home market owns the five-star Oryx Rotana Hotel in Doha and operates the Hamad International Airport Hotel.

It emerged as an international hotel owner with the acquisition of the Sheraton Skyline Hotel at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2015 . Sheraton has a long term management agreemnent over the Melbourne asset.

Mark Durran of JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group is handling the sale but was not available.

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.