New leisure brand on Ovolo Hotels’ agenda

Coastal and vineyard locations on the Australian east coast being assessed

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Beachside destinations and wineries within a few hours of capital cities on Australia’s east coast are being considered as sites for a new Ovolo Hotels sub-brand. Leisure locations such as the Gold Coast, Noosa and Byron Bay are on the radar, CFO and CEO Dave Baswal says.

“We’re very interested in finding a leisure asset. Something that is two hours’ drive from one of the metropolitan cities, or north of Sydney,” Baswal told LATTE.

“A market that is not too far from the feeder markets – so a destination that is a two-hour drive from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne or Adelaide, would probably be what we are looking at.”

Ideally, the asset would be between 40 and 80 rooms in a “lively” location.

“A unique place which has an identity in the market; Byron would be perfect for that.”

Baswal said nothing has been set in stone for the new Ovolo leisure brand, and said the company was undecided if the unit would carry the Ovolo branding. “We don’t know yet, but we have interest in creating a leisure interpretation of Ovolo brand,” he explained.

He said the brand would be positioned in the upmarket lifestyle space, but not too “elite”.

“With no disrespect, it’s not Wolgan Valley. It’s not Six Senses. We create amazing communal spaces and we like to bring people together. Ovolo guests feel like they are experiencing something unique, so the leisure brand would carry the same ethos,” Baswal said.

He said the leisure brand wouldn’t be centred on the burgeoning ‘wellness’ space, “but I never say never. We might do it in the future”.

“The obvious direction for Ovolo in leisure is going to be the lifestyle, young-at-heart, a-little-bit-playful market. They are a place you go with your friends, with a partner, not just to relax but to have a great experience.”

“Something like Halcyon House; something like Jackalope – it’s not too elite. Jackalope is great because the food and beverage in the area is amazing, the restaurant is amazing, the vineyard is amazing. It’s out and about and makes you excited. Halcyon has its own twist on lifestyle. You can actually take the whole house and hold a big party, or a wedding, and this is the direction we like to see for Ovolo,” Baswal told LATTE.

Jackalope in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula

For the core Ovolo brand, the group’s CFO is also intent on adding additional locations in Melbourne and Sydney, saying both cities are “obvious places to grow”.

With Ovolo properties already in Brisbane and Canberra, Baswal says other state capitals would make sense.

“Adelaide has a lot of good-quality hotels coming up, and I would love to manage one of them. Would we like to build something in Adelaide? Probably not. If we find an existing hotel which is for sale that we can repurpose and make as an Ovolo, then yes. Adelaide is definitely on a list of where we would be happy to invest and happy to operate.”

A location in Perth is still some time away, with Baswal suggesting that market has a “little more pain still to go through” due to the cycle of downturn. “I would look at investment in probably another 12–18 months. Not too early.”

Last week LATTE exclusively revealed Ovolo Hotels was weighing up the Downtown Los Angeles market as an entry point into the US market.

Lead image: Byron Bay “would be perfect” for Ovolo’s new leisure brand

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