WITH construction costs among the factors dissuading developers from building hotels in Perth, the number of boutique projects coming online in existing structures is cause for optimism, according to guests at the boardroom forum.
Several hotels have been given planning approval by the City of Perth in the past 18 months and while boutique hotels don’t solve all occupancy issues, they contribute to the broader solution, particularly when linked to commercial developments.
The Terrace Hotel is due to open in heritage-listed Bishop’s See complex’s St Georges House this summer, comprising 15 boutique suites. Also, the redevelopment of the Old Treasury Building will create up to 90 rooms in a six-star hotel.
That’s not to say all construction plans are at a standstill, with an Asia-based couple having applied to develop a 216-room hotel in West Perth.
The couple plans to build the hotel at 783-789 Wellington Street, just on the west side of the Graham Farmer Freeway, with approval granted by Perth City Council last September.
The proposed 10-storey facility will include commercial space, and Perth council’s design advisory committee “applauded the intention of constructing a new hotel” on Wellington Street.
The Terrace Hotel will be operated by Hospitality Inn chief executive Chris Pye and will include a restaurant, wine cellar, bar and private function facility. Developer Hawaiian has said it will “provide synergies with the existing Lamont’s Bishop’s House restaurant already operating at the Bishop’s See precinct”.
For years successive state governments have toyed with the idea of redeveloping the Old Treasury Building and last October the Barnett government released plans, approved by the Perth City Council, to put $580 million into the site.
The development will have 8,000 square metres of office space in a 35-storey tower and a 90-bed, six-star hotel.
A consortium that involves Mirvac Group, CBus and Adrian Fini’s FJM Equities is in control of the 99-year lease and redevelopment of the property, while hotel owner/operator Aman Resorts is the planned operator.
The office tower that underpins the project was approved by City of Perth last September after months of intensive negotiation between stakeholders including the Anglican Diocese of Perth, the City of Perth, Mirvac, The Public Trustee, Aman Resorts and the state government.
“The restoration of the Old Treasury Buildings, which will be converted into a hotel, has been on the cards for many years and we’re pleased that at last this unique heritage building will finally be repaired and refurbished,” Anglican Diocese of Perth executive officer Brian Dixon said.
“It’s a very complex deal that we’ve been negotiating for more than 18 months.”
The project is expected to commence by mid-2012 and take two years to complete.
Speaking to WA Business News when the plans were released, FJM Equities’ Mr Fini said the project’s objective was to deliver what the consortium hoped would become Australia’s best quality boutique hotel.
“Aman are very experienced in working with heritage buildings, from the Summer Palace in Beijing they are the operator of, to the oldest hotel in Asia, in Sri Lanka,” he said at the time.
“They’ve worked inside heritage buildings on many occasions and have a high level of respect for them.
“We think that will deliver a new base for high-quality accommodation in Perth, and for Australia.”
Private developers gained planning approval for an 18-storey 187-room hotel on 257 Adelaide Terrace last April, and while the owners of the site have yet to submit an application for a building licence they have two years to do so before the planning approval is no longer valid.
The developer has not named the operator set to manage the site, but WA Business News understands it is a premier international hotel operator already running more than 40 hotels in Asia.
Another development, this time for 58 hotel rooms, is set for a site behind the Carlton Hotel on the East Perth end of Hay Street, having received approval in February 2011.
Meanwhile, Frasers Suites Perth, part of the Queens Riverside development, is set to inject 236 rooms onto the market next August when it opens. A 39-room hotel and commercial development for the site of the heritage-listed Melbourne Hotel was approved 12 months ago.
Outside the CBD, a 138-bed hotel was given planning approval by the Town of Vincent last June and is set to be developed on the corner of Beaufort and Lincoln streets in Highgate, while boutique brewer Little Creatures has a 54-room hotel planned for the site adjacent to its Fremantle operation.