Hotel groups are bullish on Australia and New Zealand as demand for quality soars, Michael Taylor writes.

Marriott International has aggressive expansion plans for the Asia Pacific region, and Australia and New Zealand are no exception.

“We are aiming to open 50 hotels in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific by the end of 2020,” says Sean Hunt, Area Vice President, Marriott International, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. “Marriott International is also on track to boast the largest portfolio of upper upscale and luxury brands and properties across the Pacific region by 2020, and we see ourselves playing a pivotal role in developing and expanding the region’s luxury offering.”

Marriott currently has a total of 36 properties in Australia, with 17 already in operation and 19 more in the pipeline. Marriott has two properties under development in New Zealand, both slated to open by 2022. The first of the two – Four Points by Sheraton Auckland – will open in 2018 and will be Marriott International’s debut property in New Zealand. The 19 Marriott properties in the pipeline in Australia are all slated to open before 2023.

“We’re particularly excited to introduce new luxury and aspirational mid-scale brands to the Australian market, including The Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Aloft and Element,” Hunt says. “By 2023 we’ll have 12 of our 30 brands represented across the country.”

Both the Australian and New Zealand tourism industries show enormous potential. According to Tourism Research Australia, inbound arrivals to Australia are expected to increase by 13.1 per cent between 2018 – 2019. New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, meanwhile, expects an even more impressive increase of 17.2 per cent during the same period.

“There are also more visitors arriving from a wider range of international markets, thanks to the launch of new flight routes and additional services from Asia, the Middle East and South America,” Hunt says. “Both Australia and New Zealand are experiencing robust visitor growth, resulting in strong demand for quality and premium overnight accommodation and high occupancy rates.”

Other hotel groups are also bullish on the Asia Pacific. Thai-based Avani Hotels & Resorts, for example, entered the region last year, opening two properties, one each in Australia and New Zealand.

Avani Broadbeach Gold Coast Residences in Australia opened on 4 December 2017, and Avani Metropolis Auckland Residences in New Zealand opened on 13 November 2017. The 219-key Gold Coast property occupies a prime beachfront site on Surf Parade. The 370-key Auckland property is located within the Metropolis Building, overlooking Albert Park.

World’s most livable city

A member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts group, The Lyall Hotel and Spa opened in 2002. As Melbourne’s only privately owned and operated five-star hotel, The Lyall has enjoyed a high ratio of international guests since it opened.

“Close to 50 per cent of our guests originate from the UK, Europe, the USA and Asian countries including China (mainly Hong Kong), Singapore and Thailand,” says the hotel’s owner, Rowina Thomas. “We attribute this international attraction to our individuality and quintessential Melbourne style. Melbourne is the culture and food capital of Australia from which The Lyall captures its essence. Those visiting Melbourne for its food, fashion, art and design are more likely to gravitate to a hotel where they can be surrounded by likeminded people.  In a city dominated by global chains, The Lyall provides an intimate, personalised alternative.”

If business was good in 2017 was good, 2018 is likely to be even better.

“We start the year with The Australian Open Tennis, quickly followed by the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and The Australian Grand Prix, which starts the world circuit,” Thomas says. “As Melbourne continues to gain recognition as ‘the’ Australian place to visit and The World’s Most Livable City, The Lyall is well positioned with its prestigious address and as Melbourne’s most Livable Hotel “

The Langham, Melbourne, was launched as the Langham Hospitality Group’s first Australian property on 1 January 2006. The 388-key hotel was previously known as the Sheraton Towers Southgate. The group has since added two more properties in the region: The Langham, Sydney, in Australia and the Cordis Auckland in New Zealand.

“Our market is made up of 80 per cent domestic guests with the remaining 20 per cent coming from China and the U.S.”, says André Jacques, Director of Sales and Marketing, The Langham, Melbourne. “The hotel performed extremely well last year, and we anticipate strong market performance for 2018 and beyond.”

Melbourne continues to be a magnet for tourists, corporate, special events, sporting events, festivals and major conferences.

While Airbnb and short stay apartments continue to disrupt the hospitality industry, The Langham, Melbourne, has cemented its reputation with what Jacques calls “a reputation for seamless, anticipatory service, which is unmatched”.

“The hotel is extremely proud of our personalised and authentic service for which we are renowned,” he says.