17/10/2006 - 22:00

Hotel owners look to beat seasonal surges

17/10/2006 - 22:00

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Perth’s hotel market is showing encouraging signs amid a surge in new bookings, as hotel groups rush to complete refurbishments and share in the state’s boom economy.

Perth’s hotel market is showing encouraging signs amid a surge in new bookings, as hotel groups rush to complete refurbishments and share in the state’s boom economy.

International hotel group Accor has just completed a $5.3 million modern refurbishment of its Perth flagship, the four-star Novotel Langley, upgrading all 253 rooms in addition to public areas, restaurant, gym, Fenians Bar and the hotel’s façade.

Located on the corner of Hill Street and Adelaide Terrace, the hotel was Accor’s first step into the WA market in 1994. The addition of a further 15 properties followed.

The highlight of the Novotel Langley makeover is the launch of the new Sen5es restaurant and wine bar on the ground floor, with former Harrods and Four Seasons Sydney chef Patrice Falantin at the helm.

Novotel Langley general manager Alan Burrows said the refurbishment was a long-term investment from which Accor hoped to draw a further 10 years of life for the hotel.

Formerly the general manager of Mercure Sydney Airport, Mr Burrows always considered Perth a tough market but believes the resources boom has changed that.

“What will be the interesting part of the business going forward is to manage in a boom time, rather than during a time where we’ve had to watch everything and be careful what we do,” Mr Burrows said.

Occupancy rates at the hotel are expected to average 82 per cent this year with $125 dollars the average room rate charged.

Mr Burrows said it was hard to rise above this occupancy when the effect of seasonality was taken into account, however, he believed room rates had risen in Perth’s four-star hotel market by $15 a year during the past three years from a low base.

“Certainly we’re playing catch up with Sydney and Melbourne markets. They’re $30 a room better off…If the market here stays buoyant, it will hold prices down so that will increase the challenge,” he said.

The latest figures from a Colliers International Hotels Investment Australia report show Perth hotel bookings increasing in the March quarter 2006 period by 7 per cent compared with the same period in 2005, causing occupancy rates to rise by 5 percentage points to 79.4 per cent.

Average room rates increased by 9.3 per cent to a high for the market of $110.18 in the same March quarter compared to last, pushing up quarterly revenue per available room by 16.7 per cent to $87.49.

Mr Burrows said that, while it had been a strong three years for the hotel, the biggest issue had been sourcing skilled and general staff at a time when hospitality colleges were experiencing a decline in enrolments, and more attractive, higher paying jobs were prevalent.

“We don’t have the full complement of staff here with 160 people and it’s the same story in Kununurra and Port Hedland. It’s a tough business,” he said.

Accor has 16 hotels in WA, six of which are in the greater Perth region; the Novotel Langley, Mercure Perth, Ibis Perth, Formule One Perth Airport, Novotel Vines Swan Valley, and its latest addition in May, the All Seasons Northbridge.

The group will open its new $12 million Novotel Ningaloo resort Exmouth in December.

The Langley’s transformation follows a similar move by the Travelodge Group to inject new life into the ageing four-star Chateau Commodore Hotel on Hay Street, for which new owners JF Meridian Trust paid $17.5 million in March.

All 117 guest rooms have been refurbished along with the lobby, conference rooms, restaurant and cocktail bar.

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