Australia’s love affair with ‘lifestyle-based’ boutique hotels has seen Ovolo Group invest more than $330 million into the sector here since 2012.
The acquisition and leasing this year of two properties brings to seven the number of CBD hotels the company owns and/or manages in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra.
In January 2018, Ovolo purchased the Emporium Hotel in Brisbane and secured the leasing agreement to Canberra’s Hotel Hotel. This comes just seven months after the company purchased the New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites in Brisbane (now known as Ovolo Inchcolm), increasing the number of rooms it now has in Australia to 601.
These properties join Ovolo’s other popular design-led hotels – the Ovolo Woolloomooloo and Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour in Sydney and Ovolo Laneways in Melbourne – in the group’s growing Australian hotel portfolio.
“Brisbane is the hub of Queensland and continues to grow. We are enthused by the expected increase in tourists likely to generate from the planned expansion of Brisbane airport, the city’s new international cruise terminal and the redevelopment of the Queens Wharf precinct,"
- Girish Jhunjhnuwala, Chief Executive Officer, Ovolo Group
According to Chief Executive Officer, Girish Jhunjhnuwala, approximately eight out of the top 20 hotels in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are ‘lifestylebased’ boutique properties.
“Australia is a mature market that understands the concept of lifestyle hotels,” says Girish. “We consider ourselves disrupters in the hospitality business and this continues to be rewarded through increasing guest numbers and consistently good reviews.
“Australian travellers have connected well with our design led brand and our signature FREEBIES offering.”
Chief Operating Officer, Dave Baswal says he was ‘pleasantly’ surprised at the reaction Ovolo has received since opening its first hotel in Melbourne in 2013.
“We were always confident our brand would be well received here, but the overwhelming interest in it has been a pleasant surprise,” he says. “We will continue to work hard in exceeding expectations for all our stakeholders.”
Dave says Australia was an “obvious choice” for expansion based on Ovolo’s international market mix.
“As an investment destination, Australia is very easy to do business with, has a stable, growing real estate market and has provided some great opportunities for our brand,” he says.
According to Dave, the appeal of Ovolo comes from its genuine commitment to customer service.
“We have a service culture that is quite unique. Our priority is to connect with the traveller by providing effortless and memorable experiences,” he says.
This philosophy certainly seems to be paying off. For example, Ovolo Woolloomooloo and Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour consistently hold Top 10 positions in Trip Advisor’s guest rating charts and were respectively awarded #2 and #6 hotel in all of Australia by Trip Advisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2017.
“As an investment destination, Australia is very easy to do business with, has a stable, growing real estate market and has provided some great opportunities for our brand."
- Dave Baswal, Chief Operating Officer, Ovolo Group
Once the acquisition and leasehold deals in Brisbane and Canberra are completed, Ovolo will have a CBD presence in all major east coast capital cities.
“The second hotel in Brisbane, and the leasehold arrangement with Hotel Hotel in Canberra, were very important deals for us,” says Girish.
“The Emporium was an obvious choice for the brand given the hotel’s incredible success to date, its boutique nature and appealing location.
“Brisbane is the hub of Queensland and continues to grow. We are enthused by the expected increase in tourists likely to generate from the planned expansion of Brisbane airport, the city’s new international cruise terminal and the redevelopment of the Queens Wharf precinct.”
Located in Fortitude Valley, the 102-room Emporium Hotel will be renamed (under the Ovolo brand) later in 2018.
The art-inspired 68-room Hotel Hotel (has since been renamed Ovolo Nishi) is one of Canberra’s most popular.
The leasehold deal struck between owners Molonglo Group and Ovolo Hotels includes the businesses, operations and staff who work and care for the hotel and restaurant. Molonglo Group has operated Hotel Hotel since 2013.
“We believe this venture is the perfect alignment for us and fits our ethos of design very well,” says Girish.
“Every property in the Ovolo portfolio is unique in its character and has its own style, feel and story. We can pretty much take Hotel Hotel the way it is, and just give it a bit of an Ovolo service touch.”
“We are looking at places like Noosa, Byron Bay, Port Douglas and the Gold Coast to create eco-friendly, lifestyle resorts. Again, they will all be F.U.N (Fabulous, Unconventional and Never boring), based on the characteristics of their location, culture and history."
- Dave Baswal, Chief Operating Officer, Ovolo Group
So far, all Ovolo hotels in Australia are CBD based, but Dave says there are plans to expand into regional markets.
“We are looking at places like Noosa, Byron Bay, Port Douglas and the Gold Coast to create eco-friendly, lifestyle resorts. Again, they will all be F.U.N (Fabulous, Unconventional and Never boring), based on the characteristics of their location, culture and history,” Dave says.
“Early days, but it is something we are very keen on. We are always looking for new opportunities.”
Another concept Ovolo is also considering for Australia is Mojo Nomad, a new ‘affordable luxury’ brand recently introduced in Hong Kong.
Mojo Nomad offers ‘Homstel living’, bringing together hotel, home and hostel. It is centered around community and the use of shared spaces and facilities.
“Our project and design team visited various establishments across Europe and the US during the conceptualisation of the brand” says Dave. “Taking learnings from the best design led-hostels and boutique hotels in Europe, we looked at and evaluated the pricing models, value added services, ancillary income generators, guest facilities and characteristics of the popular sites in forming what we could offer given our footprint.”
Dave says Ovolo is very enthusiastic about future opportunities in Australia.
More Information: www.ovolohotels.com.au