Sluggish hotel scene won’t stop five-star developers

Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel is on the market again.
Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel is on the market again.

Publican Justin Hemmes and investor Robert Whyte have inspected Byron Bay’s popular Beach Hotel but it is understood neither is progressing with a purchase of the property which hit the market with a $100 million price tag back in September.

Developed by Paul Hogan sidekick John Cornell, the Beach Hotel is being sold by Melbourne’s Liberman-family backed Impact Investment Group.

Further south, at a price tag of more than $300 million, the owners of Sydney’s Sofitel Wentworth Hotel are still trying to find a buyer, but that is not stopping developers from rolling out a string of opulent hotel developments across the country.

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Nearly half of the hotels slated for development over the next five years will be five-star or above as the industry looks to capitalise on a luxury travel sector driven particularly by Chinese tourists.

“There is an increasing trend towards developing high-end product,” says Benjamin Martin-Henry, CBRE associate director, research.

“Owners are positioning themselves to capitalise on the growing luxury travel market, particularly with visitors from China.”

Sofitel Wentworth Hotel Sydney

Sydney’s Sofitel Wentworth Hotel has a price tag of $300m

Six new six-star hotels totalling 1642 rooms are set to open before the end of 2020, with two in Melbourne, and one each in Adelaide, Gold Coast, Perth and Sydney. A total of 86 hotels classed as five- or six-star are in the development pipeline running through to December 2024, accounting for 23,128 rooms.

Of the capital cities, Melbourne leads the way with 22, but its tally of 5120 rooms is shaded by the Gold Coast’s 5500 rooms across 11 sites.

CBRE Hotels national director Wayne Bunz says Australia is moving away from a standardised approach towards the luxury end of the market.

“Guests today are looking for experiential travel, to stay in places where they feel connected to the city they are staying, and are willing to pay a premium for an exclusive product or service,” he says.

Bunz says this has led to the development of bespoke and highly individual hotels created by local designers.

“This more bespoke approach is being led not only by visionary hoteliers, but also the larger management companies,” he says.

“This can certainly be seen in Brisbane where we have the best new hotels in Australia, such as the Calile, Art Series, Ovolo and Emporium hotels, allowing the city to attract a new calibre of travellers.”

Across the full development pipeline, Melbourne has the most rooms at 13,928, followed by Sydney on 10,294 and the Gold Coast on 8215.

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