Ty­coon eyes more rooms on east coast

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS - LISA ALLEN

Fresh from open­ing his lat­est Syd­ney CBD ho­tel, in­ter­na­tional bil­lion­aire ho­tel ty­coon Michael Kum has at least two other real es­tate deals in play on Aus­tralia’s east coast.

“We are fo­cus­ing very much in Aus­tralia. We have heav­ily in­vested about $1.5 bil­lion,” the Sin­ga­porean-based ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of M&L Hos­pi­tal­ity told The Week­end Aus­tralian yes­ter­day.

“The bot­tom line is Aus­tralia prob­a­bly has lower mar­gins rel­a­tive to hold­ing costs and yields,” said the 73-year-old, a former ship­ping mag­nate who be­gan build­ing his ho­tel port­fo­lio in 2009.

It was also dif­fi­cult find­ing good ho­tel sites in Syd­ney given buy­ers wanted to buy low and sell­ers typ­i­cally wanted to sell high. “That makes it more dif­fi­cult,” he said.

“It’s hard to buy around Aus­tralia un­less you go to Dar­win or some­where less pop­u­lar with tourism,” he said.

“We only have one or two projects we are work­ing on at the mo­ment in Aus­tralia,” Mr Kum said, adding that Aus­tralia had the bulk of M&L’s ho­tels, which are spread from Bri­tain to The Nether­lands, New Zealand and Sin­ga­pore.

In Syd­ney yes­ter­day, Mr Kum opened the new West Ho­tel, which is man­aged by Hil­ton as part of its Cu­rio Col­lec­tion, with the prop­erty just a few doors down from his 892-room Hy­att Re­gency in Sus­sex Street that re­cently un­der­went a $250 mil­lion ex­ten­sion.

M&L Hos­pi­tal­ity also owns the Swis­so­tel in Syd­ney’s Mar­ket Street, the Novo­tel in Perth and the Dou­ble Tree by Hil­ton in Mel­bourne’s Flin­ders Street, but Mr Kum stressed yes­ter­day that Syd­ney and Mel­bourne would be his key fo­cus for ho­tel ac­qui­si­tions from now on, given the num­bers of tourism arrivals and the ex­tent of busi­ness ac­tiv­ity in both ci­ties.

Mean­while, the Wash­ing­ton DC-based Cu­rio Col­lec­tion global head Mark No­gal said the bou­tique West Ho­tel was the first Cu­rio Col­lec­tion to open in Aus­tralia, but that sev­eral more were planned here.

Al­though the brand was launched by Hil­ton only 3½ years ago, there are now 46 Cu­rio Ho­tels around the world with the brand sim­i­lar to Hil­ton ri­val Mar­riott’s Au­to­graph.

Mr No­gal said he was work­ing with M&L Hos­pi­tal­ity on a cou­ple of deals in Aus­tralia, and had a cou­ple of op­por­tu­ni­ties with some lo­cal de­vel­op­ers.

He said the Aus­tralian mar­ket had al­ways been pop­u­lar, with Syd­ney one of the best ci­ties to visit.

“I think the mar­ket has tremen­dous po­ten­tial,” Mr No­gal said.

The 182-room West Ho­tel Syd­ney, Cu­rio Col­lec­tion by Hil­ton, was de­vel­oped on a former elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion within 13 months.

Billed as a “up­per up­scale” prop­erty, the ho­tel is ex­pected to ap­peal to cor­po­rate trav­ellers and the leisure mar­ket on week­ends. It is run by Jane Lyons, the former gen­eral man­ager of the Lang­ham Ho­tel in Lon­don.

Rates start at about $300 a night. M&L paid $22.5m for the site at 65-79 Sus­sex Street in early 2016.

Michael Kum

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.