Oaks hotels branch out
THE Oaks Hotels and Resorts business across the country is to undergo a $70 million-plus upgrade and rebadging as the owner, the Minor Hotel Group, capitalises on its expanded business model.
Under the banner, the Bangkok-based Minor group will also focus on developing its Anantara resort business, which has new hotels in Uluwatu, Bali and the Maldives, among many across Asia and Dubai.
The chief executive of the Minor Hotel Group, Dillip Rajakarier, said Minor's acquisition of the Oaks group in 2011 was the springboard for expansion into Australia.
Specialising in serviced apartment management, Oaks was created in the early 1990s and now totals 41 serviced apartments and suites. Minor Hotel Group has recently opened the first Oaks in Asia, in Bangkok.
Mr Rajakarier said the investment in Oaks was the Minor group's first foray into the Pacific and doubled the company's hotel interests, which comprised more than 80 properties, with almost 10,000 rooms in operation across Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Australasia.
Most recently he has focused on growth in the Avani Hotels & Resorts and Anantara brands across Asia.
''We are very confident in the growth potential of the Oaks brand in Australia and will spend in excess of $70 million in the coming years on upgrades of the existing hotels, which include the Oaks Pacific Blue at Port Stephens,'' he said in an interview with BusinessDay.
''If the opportunity arises, we will look at greenfields developments to complement the rebranding and redevelopment of existing sites.'' Mr Rajakarier said properties in areas such as Queensland and Cable Beach, Western Australia, were targeted by international visitors and would be earmarked for future developments.
''We see the serviced-apartment sector as a niche area that will also be our focus,'' he said. ''They can have lower costs than a hotel as visitors tend to stay longer. We will be looking at more developments in this area as the number of inbound travellers increase in coming years.''
He said there was evidence the tourism sector in Australia was improving, with recent data indicating Chinese tourist numbers had doubled in the past 18 months.
''Australia has a strong economy and a tightly held hotel sector and we are bullish about the growth prospects in 2013,'' he said.
The expansion plans by Minor come as hotels in Sydney have spent up to $100 million on refurbishments across a range of assets.
The director of Tourism Accommodation Australia (NSW), Carol Giuseppe, said the redevelopment had increased supply, with the opening of the 171-room The Darling at the Star (the first purpose-built five-star hotel since the 2000 Olympics), the 196-room QT Sydney Hotel and an additional 52 rooms at Four Points by Sheraton.
''There are also a welcome number of planned increases to supply, with the opening of the 317-room Rydges Sydney Airport midyear, the 170-room Adina Royal Randwick Racecourse in 2014 and the 900-room hotel that will adjoin the new convention centre at Darling Harbour,'' she said.