First up, here’s a fun factoid: over the past three years, the largest owner of hotel rooms in Australia has been the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which was also part of the consortium that handed the NSW government $AU10.3 billion last year for a 99-year lease on the state’s TransGrid electricity network.
ADIA took the title in 2013 when it paid a record $800 million for Australia’s largest hotel owner, the 4000-room Tourism Asset Holdings, whose properties include Novotel hotels in Canberra, Sydney’s Darling Harbour and the Olympic Park at Homebush.
But now apartment developer Harry Triguboff is claiming the crown thanks to his Meriton Serviced Apartments business and the new 36-storey, 254 suite serviced apartments tower on Church Street, Parramatta, taking the total to 4403 suites across 17 apartment towers in Sydney, Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.
The company is also set to open a 29-story full-service hotel apartment complex with 218 suites in Arthur Street, North Sydney, later this month. Meriton has now opened three apartment hotels in the last two months and says it’s now the nation’s fastest-growing hotel operator, 13 years after the billionaire property developer launched the business with serviced apartment division general manager Matthew Thomas in 2003.
The business now has a gross annual turnover in excess of $380 million and one of the newest locations, Sydney Airport Mascot, is currently running at 92% occupancy with a rate of $193, Thomas told Business Insider.
“We anticipate our next hotel at North Sydney to yield exceptional income and forecast rates as high as $300 a night per room,” he said. “Our group-wide targeted occupancy rate is 92%+ year round and we have hotels which are exceeding this target.”
Thomas says the apartments target travellers keen on “value for money” and offer the flexibility of home-style living with a kitchen and internal laundry alongside a 24-hour reception, concierge and daily housekeeping.
Meriton Group’s rapid expansion into the hotel sector comes at a time when traditional outlets are under pressure from digital sharing economy businesses such as Airbnb.
Last week Meriton announced it was selling off its strata-title management business, blaming changes to the law in NSW for the decision.
Meriton Strata Management looks after 6194 lots spread over 33 schemes in Sydney and the Gold Coast, but the 83-year-old is selling the business because of new strata-title laws in NSW that start on November 30.