Japan-based Seibu Holdings subsidiary Prince Hotels has made its initials steps toward Australian expansion. Following a $55-million transaction, the hotel group has acquired Australian operator StayWell Hospitality Group.
StayWell Hospitality operates the Park Regis and Leisure Inn brands in a portfolio of 71 properties across 14 countries. Australia has 12 of these hotels, which reportedly have a managed turnover of about $300 million.
According to Stan Brown, chairman of StayWell Hospitality Group and former EVP of Prince Hotels, Prince Hotels had chosen Australia as a key focus region for expansion. Meanwhile, the company is also eyeing expansion opportunities for the Prince brands, such as The Prince Hotel and the Prince Smart Inn, across Australian destinations with high demand.
In line with its plans to develop in gateway cities, StayWell, which is led by CE Simon Wan, has set plans to launch a new Park Regis hotel in Subiaco, Perth. "We look at the merger as the opportunity to extend our global presence with the aim of having 100 properties in 10 years, spread across Southeast Asia, Oceania, Australia, the Middle East and parts of Europe," Brown told WA Today.
Demand for the region is coming from a range of travelers who are looking for security, traditional hotel offerings and experience, Brown said. "There is demand for a range of accommodation options and we have a lot of hotel owners...looking for a unique offering in an operator to cater for the wide tastes of guests." While the fragmentation of operators in Australia's hotel sector is apparent, Prince Hotels stated that there is room for even more due to the forecasted rise of inbound tourists to the region and outbound adventure seekers.
The group has planned to seek joint venture or development capital opportunities with hotel operators in order to fund the expansion. "We want skin in the game, so we will work with the hotel owners in a variety of ways through management expertise or as a new investor," Brown explained.
Sydney and Melbourne are currently in the middle of hotel expansion. However, hotel groups have claimed guestroom stock has remained low in both cities. As part of this expansion, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, which is managed by AccorHotels and owned by Dr. Jerry Schwartz, just opened on Tuesday, Oct. 3. The hotel is a welcome addition to the city's low upscale hotel stock, which halted before the Sydney Olympics. The last internationally-branded luxury hotel began operating in 1999.