Barely contained enthusiasm for the coast

WHILE many in the accommodation business are suffering from a fall-off in trade, nothing could be further from the truth for those in the self-contained costal apartment business.

Far from seeing a fall in the number of bookings coming from corporate clients, businesses offering self-contained apartments by the sea have seen a rise in the number of while collar clients.

It also seems that the number of general bookings taken has not been affected by either the September 11 attacks on the US, or the collapse of Ansett.

Glenn Davies, owner and manager of the Cottesloe Beach Chalets, attributes his escape from general industry downturn to the basic concept of supply and demand.

He said that, as far as self-contained accommodation in the Cottesloe area was concerned, he basically had the market to himself.

“There is nothing comparable in the area. There are flats let out, but they don’t have on-site management,” Mr Davies said.

“ They don’t have phones, laundries, swimming pools or BBQ areas.”

He said the likelihood of competition also was remote, due principally to the cost of land in the Cottesloe area.

“I think it would be very difficult for anyone else to build self-contained apartments in Cottesloe,” Mr Davies said.

“The council doesn’t encourage high rise buildings, so it is restrictive from that point of view.

“Because the land is expensive, it means it is very expensive to add on facilities like laundromats or even things like car parking bays.

“They would have to charge a very exorbitant room rate in order to get a return.

“Owning the real estate makes things a lot easier. I am able to run it, make a profit and make the room rates attractive.”

The general manager of the Seashells Apartments in Scarborough, Owen Cook, said the trend towards full self contained apartments and the fact that there weren’t that many in the area also had created an upswing in the number of guests coming through.

“I guess fundamentally there is a lack of supply of self-contained apartments, and that generally does have an impact on demand,” Mr Cook said.

“We are the only 4.5 star operators in Scarborough. There are other competitors, but not at that start level.

“There has also been a growing trend for guests to seek this kind of accommodation because it is self contained and serviced.”

Mr Cook said political instability in other parts of the world, along with the collapse of Ansett, had triggered reactions that had led to an increase in customers.

“The Western Australian Tourism Commission and the Australian Tourism Commission have stimulated bookings for us by encouraging Australians to holiday in Australia,” Mr Cook said.

“The Australian dollar looks very attractive to many, so we’ve had a strong growth out of the UK and the United States. It is also seen as a safe destination for travellers.

“And we have had strong growth in the number of Indonesians visiting in recent months because of the trouble they have had there.”

He said one of the reasons he had escaped unscathed from the recent recoil of the WA tourism industry was the diversity of his clientele.

“I think many of the hotels in the CBD have been gigantically supported by a lot of corporate travellers and tend to have a high corporate market mix,” Mr Cook said.

“We have corporates, but we also have a lot of leisure travellers and free independent travellers.”

Mr Davies said 92 per cent of his visitors were either guests before or had been referred to him by people who had stayed previously.

He attributed the increase in corporate guests to the location and the facilities.

“You have a lot of business people who find Cottesloe relaxing, so instead of staying in a five-star hotel in the city they stay on the beach,” Mr Davies said.

“These business people don’t necessarily want to stay in the city. They work, then they can take a walk along the beach and relax.”

But the attraction of the corporate market has not been an instant one for Mr Davies, who has been steadily upgrading the facilities since he purchased the business in 1994.

“You don’t get them (corporate clients) unless you are reasonable. They are a little bit fussy, but that’s fair enough we accept that,” he said.

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