Daily Life

License article

'Playboy' no more Justin Hemmes says baby daughter Alexa has 'softened' him


The David Jones biannual fashion show - models, latest fashion trends, tunes pumping, Bollinger and lychee martinis flowing, and the who's who of Sydney mingling - a scene "Sydney's ultimate playboy" Justin Hemmes might once have valued, but times are a changin'.

All the 43-year-old hospitality mogul could think about as he joined partner Kate Fowler, 25, front row at the Autumn/Winter 2016 Fashion Launch was going home to their 12-week-old daughter, Alexa Merivale.

"Our beautiful little girl is at home and we are missing her terribly," he told Fairfax Media on Wednesday night.

"I said to Kate, 'what do you think she is doing right now?'


"We are on our way home to go and see her. I cannot wait," the multi-millionaire Merivale Group founder added.

Life for the owner of more than 40 restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels, including well-known haunts like the Ivy, Establishment and the Coogee Pavilion, "couldn't get any better at the moment", as he tried to put into words what fatherhood means to him.

"You can't explain to anyone the love that you have for your child. You can't actually explain it. She's the most beautiful thing."

Once known for his partying ways and being linked with well-known beauties such as Natalie Imbruglia, Lara Bingle, model Alexandra Agoston and actor Amber L'Estrange, he says he has completely changed since Alexa came into his life in November.

"I'm experiencing a joy I have never experienced before and I'm just a lot calmer," the hotelier started out.

"My sister thinks it's a very good thing I had a girl first, girls are a lot softer. They are calm for someone like myself."

The hands-on parent is so enamoured by his baby girl he makes her early morning sleep interruptions sound idyllic.

"When she wakes up, she comes into bed with us about 4am. She looks around all confused and then she locks eyes with you and then she smiles and you are like, 'I am done'," he laughed.

The doting dad then pulled out his phone mid-chat and asked this reporter: "Would you like to see a picture?"

Scrolling through dozens of beaming baby shots on his camera roll, Hemmes is making sure not to miss one of Alexa's first moments.

"This is her this morning," he said, almost bursting with pride over the newborn with her blonde locks styled in what looked like a miniature mohawk. "I just love her," he said pointing to another snap.


Merry Chrissie Alexa ❤️❤️❤️❤️ @kateloufleur xxx

A photo posted by Justin (@justinhemmes) on


Just my 3 favourite people in the entire world @kateloufleur #thunderhemmes #alexamerivale ❤️❤️❤️

A photo posted by Justin (@justinhemmes) on

When asked if he has hopes of her taking over his empire when she's old enough, he replied earnestly: "She can do whatever she wants."

Agreeing with her partner of almost two years, New Zealand-born model Fowler, daughter of professional golfer Peter Fowler, said: "I don't want to be one of those mums [but] she's delicious."

"She doesn't really cry, we have been really lucky. It's all new but she has made it easy for us. Parenthood is amazing." she said.

"You do hear some horror stories but we are very lucky," Hemmes added.



A photo posted by Kate Fowler (@kateloufleur) on