Savoia Hotel: Dated Hepburn Springs pub sells for almost $2m to Melbourne hospitality operator

The Savoia Hotel at 69 Main Rd, Hepburn Springs, is destined for a makeover after it was snapped up by a Melbourne hospitality operator.

A mystery buyer has big plans for a much-loved pub in Victoria’s health and wellness heartland after snapping it up for almost $2m.

The popular watering hole, the Savoia Hotel at 69 Main Rd, Hepburn Springs, has changed hands almost two years after it was first listed in September 2019.

A Melbourne hospitality outfit snapped it up at an online auction late last month for $1.982m, beating three other developers and hospitality operators to the keys.

Two were bidding sight unseen.

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The hotel is a firm favourite with locals and was held by the same family for more than seven decades.

The bar has seen better days but retains a country, old-style charm.

The property first sold to a developer in October last year but it fell through.

The property had been advertised for $1.6m-$1.75m before the asking price was bumped up to $1.8m.

Broadhurst Property director Robert Broadhurst said the sale was a case of second time lucky for the vendor, Merv Keating, whose family bought the venue in the late 1940s and has owned it for more than 70 years.

An initial $1.8m sale in October fell through when the buyer walked away to purchase The Old Hepburn Hotel, which was for sale just down the road, with planning approval for seven townhouses.

But all’s well that ends well for Mr Keating, who Mr Broadhurst said walked away with the first buyer’s deposit, which they forfeited when they broke the sale contract, as well as the proceeds from the current sale.

A number of late nights have been spent enjoying a drink and spinning a yarn with mates in front of this fire place.

A table with a view.

Mr Keating previously told the Herald Sun he would miss “the community side” of owning the pub the most.

“People don’t understand a pub, especially in the country, is the centre of town, really. When people don’t have anywhere to go, they come here,” he said.

“Half the time you’re a social worker – and it’s a shame but it’s sort of the last frontier for blokes … somewhere you can bounce ideas off”.

The Daylesford and Hepburn Springs community had their “21sts, weddings and funerals” at the hotel, previous listing agent Kim McQueen said when it was first listed.

Mr Broadhurst did not know the eventual buyer’s identity since he only dealt with their lawyer, but said they planned to revamp the hotel into a modern venue more in line with the area’s famous spa retreat offerings.

The function room has lots of space for gatherings.

The Savoia Hotel was once called the Spring Creek Hotel.

The 3147sq m site is comprised two titles including the pub and a vacant 793sq m block behind it.

“I, as much as anyone, can’t wait to see what happens with it,” Mr Broadhurst said.

“I think they will retain the bottle shop because it’s a good money stringer … (but) it will be a more refined dining and entertaining experience than what it is at the moment.”

The modern bathroom — perhaps a taste of things to come.

Broadhurst Property director Robert Broadhurst said the owner planned to give the pub a stylish makeover.

Mr Broadhurst said parts of the original weatherboard Spring Creek Hotel were retained in the current structure, including the pitched roof.

Melbourne and Sydney-based business operators were flocking to country Victoria in the wake of Covid-19, because they saw the investment potential in the region as the population boomed on the back of lockdowns.

Williamstown’s Customs House Hotel has also sold after being held by the same owner for over two decades.

Williamstown’s Customs House Hotel has also sold to a private investor for $5.85m through CBRE.

The pub and restaurant at 161 Nelson Place had been held by the same owner for more than two decades and was sold with a current lease in place to an experienced hotel operator.

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