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CapitaLand’s serviced residence unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott) – the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator, has entered into a strategic partnership with Quest Serviced Apartments (Quest) – the largest serviced apartment provider with 112 properties in Australia.

Ascott expects to invest up to AUD500 million (S$560 million) to acquire new properties that Quest will secure for its franchise in Australia over the next five years. Ascott will have a right of first refusal to acquire the properties sourced by Quest. Quest will then provide a lease for the properties, which will be operated under franchises using the Quest brand.

In addition, Ascott has signed an agreement to acquire a 20% stake in Quest for AUD28.8 million (S$32.3 million). As part of the agreement, Ascott has the option to increase its stake in Quest to 30%.

Ascott Reit Expands To Greater Sydney By Acquiring Three Serviced Residences For AUD83.0 Million

In a separate agreement, Ascott’s real estate investment trust, Ascott Residence Trust (Ascott Reit), will acquire three operating serviced residences in Greater Sydney from Quest for AUD83.0 million (approximately S$93.0 million). These are Ascott Reit’s maiden acquisitions in New South Wales.

Ascott logoQuest serviced apartment

The accretive acquisitions at an EBITDA yield of 7.7% are expected to increase Ascott Reit’s FY 2013 distribution per unit from 8.40 cents to 8.46 cents on a pro forma basis.

Ascott Reit will receive fixed rent by taking over the leases for the three serviced residences – Quest Sydney Olympic Park, Quest Campbelltown and Quest Mascot – and they will continue to be operated under franchises using the Quest brand.

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The federal government is targeting investors and developers to build more hotels and resorts in cities and regions in a bid to meet the target of doubling spending in the tourism industry to $140 billion by 2020.

The government has identified $42bn worth of existing and investment-ready tourism projects needed around the country to cope with an expected demand from domestic and international business and leisure tourists.

Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson will release the Tourism Investment Monitor report in Melbourne today.

The report reveals that 70,000 new hotel rooms will be needed by 2020 to cope with the expected demand.

Mr Ferguson is expected to argue that developing a hotel or resort gives a better return than other investments, given hoteliers, particularly in capital cities such as Perth and Brisbane, are getting such strong room rates.

“There are a range of positive factors likely to support future investment,” according to the Tourism Investment Monitor.

The report claims that 80 per cent of accommodation businesses recorded a profit in 2009-10.

“This compares with the aviation industry where data from the International Air Transport Association shows that globally, commercial passenger yields were down sharply by 14 per cent in 2009. Also, the industry’s average return was 1.8 percentage points higher than the average return for commercial property.”

Mr Ferguson will also announce a long-term alliance between Austrade, Tourism Australia and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism encouraging more investment from Asia and the Middle East. Nearly 60 per cent of Australia’s hotel transactions last year involved groups based overseas.

Most new accommodation development will occur in Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. Development in capital cities is more likely to be serviced apartment complexes than hotels.

Demand for accommodation in capital cities is increasing but hotel supply is not.

The federal government wants more accommodation in capital cities and regional areas, new business event facilities and innovative leisure attractions to serve key growth markets, such as Asia.

Tourism Research Australia expects growth in room stock of 2 per cent in 2016 in the major capital cities, while growth in regional Australia will be about 0.7 per cent.

Hotel rates are expected to continue to increase and the federal government believes the accommodation sector is one which provides both consistent and dependable returns.


The serviced apartment sector across Asia is continually expanding and diversifying to keep pace with the needs of corporations, business travellers and increasingly, tourists. In most of the region’s capital cities brands like The Ascott Limited, Frasers Hospitality, Oakwood and hotel chains such as Pan Pacific offer a wide choice of locations, designs, facilities and services to long and short stay guests. A burgeoning boutique serviced apartment sector also now complements these global names, with independently operated, Asia focused companies like the Onyx Hospitality Group’s Shama brand providing highly personalised living experiences, and new concept offerings such as Chi Residences in Hong Kong introducing contemporary urban residences for savvy travellers seeking a combination of comfort, convenience and affordability. In a highly competitive market, the range of benefits offered to residents is growing all the time, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish serviced apartments from quality hotels in terms of the facilities and amenities they provide.

Branded living

Although the best hotels in Asia now cater to guests’ every conceivable need, the much touted idea of a ‘home away from home’ is what really distinguishes serviced apartments from their hospitality sector cousins. Not everyone has the same idea as to what makes that ideal home, however, so the choices offered by the larger serviced apartment brands target a broad range of tastes and personal preferences, supported by a wide selection of add on services that cover everything from in-home massage to personal sightseeing tours.

With over 25,000 locations throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific region, Oakwood offers a full spectrum of serviced accommodation to meet the needs of corporations and individuals. Oakwood Premier is designed for luxury travellers with elegant apartments complemented by high-end hotel services such as designer furniture and onsite spa facilities. Oakwood Residences meanwhile, offer spacious, comfortable apartments suited to families and the brand’s proprietary ACE Survey methodology is used to conduct customer satisfaction surveys and provide detailed data to determine how to better assist clients with their future needs.

The Ascott Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CapitaLand headquartered in Singapore, pioneered Asia Pacific’s first international-class serviced residence back in 1984. Today, the company’s serviced offerings are divided into 3 separate brands with 22,000 serviced residence units in key cities across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Gulf region, as well as over 8,000 units under development. Each brand caters to a different need and budget. The Ascott brand offers executive level, luxury apartments focusing on comfort and business services, Somerset is geared more towards families with additional amenities for guests with children, while Citadines targets individual business and leisure travellers looking for convenience and value for money. “Generally, our serviced residences in Asia are doing well,” said Alfred Ong, managing director for South East Asia and Australia. “We see strong demand in gateway cities such as Beijing and Shanghai in China, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Singapore, as well as Bangkok in Thailand, where many multinational corporations have set up operations. Our main clients comprise diplomats and business executives from the automotive, banking and finance, construction and engineering, education, electronics, information technology, and oil and gas industries.” In terms of nationalities, the bulk of guests staying at Ascott’s serviced residences in Asia are from Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States. “Our guests appreciate that our staff are like friends to them, going the extra mile to provide useful local tips such as information on schools for their children. They can therefore enjoy a home away from home where their needs will be taken care of, and stay focused on their assignments while on the road.”

Also based in Singapore, Frasers Hospitality is a value-based organisation built around an intimate, family oriented culture with a vast choice of high quality apartment types ranging from studios, to one to four bedroom apartments and penthouses. Frasers’ residential offerings incorporate 4 brands: Fraser Suites, Fraser Place, Fraser Residence and Modena, and each property type distinguishes itself through a focused design scheme, with dedicated facilities such as a a Business Lounge with a full suite of secretarial services at Fraser Suites, a Recreation Hub with games consoles at Fraser Place and Wellness Centres with spa treatments at Fraser Residence.

Boutique niche

With the larger, established names drawing consistent demand from the a deep pool of corporate clients that have offices in Asia’s main business hubs, the boutique serviced apartment sector has expanded to meet to the needs of business and independent long stay travellers. Shama was the first boutique brand in Hong Kong and has since expanded regionally to become a market leader. ONYX Hospitality Group, a Thailand based hotel management company, acquired Shama in mid October 2010 and it is now one of ONYX’s key brands with properties in Hong Kong, China and Bangkok and more planned in gateway cities across the region. Shama apartments combine style and functionality with local design touches, welcoming communal spaces and a community approach that creates a sense of belonging for residents through the brand’s “no boundaries” programme, which fast tracks tenants’ social lives by offering a personal concierge service, access to the city’s leading members- only clubs and fitness centres and a constantly updated selection of retail and dining privileges.

Another niche provider based in Hong Kong is CHI Residences, a unique serviced apartment brand launched in 2007 by the same family that created (and later sold) Shama. CHI Residences recently acquired Le Rivage on Connaught Road West, adding 52 units and bringing CHI’s serviced apartment portfolio to 173 units. “Our philosophy at CHI is to create affordable luxury,” said Pilar Morales, executive director, CHI International. “Features such as our Oxyvital air purifier can be considered aluxury,butforusitisa basic necessity to offer our residents clean safe air, especially in a city like Hong Kong. Smart technology is important given the constant connectivity society demands, and we have an integrated communications system in each apartment allowing our residents to access Internet on their TVs and receive communications/notices from our team. Additional services offered at CHI include in room massage, shoeshining, shuttlebus services, yoga classes and social BBQs help our residents balance life and style.”

With the boutique approach to serviced living proving so appealing to those looking for more homely accommodation choices in the region, developers and management companies in every major city in Asia have introduced long and short stay options with added services to entice independently minded guests. The concept is also taking hold in resort destinations, where couples, families and groups can now rent studios or multi-bedroom apartments with onsite services as an alternative to traditional hotel and resort accommodation.

Independent trends

Although the range of fully serviced accommodation options now available means the larger properties attract a significant percentage of professional and leisure travellers across the region, recent trends have also seen short term visitors opting for private homes and apartments made available though online agents. One of the most successful companies in this sector is roomorama, a Singapore based online booking portal that witnessed exponential growth last year, reporting an average gross booking value of US$1,330 with over 80 per cent of bookings for 8-14 nights. Statistics from roomorama show that compared to Q1, 2011, 200 per cent more APAC travellers booked their accommodation via the online platform in the first part of 2012. The website currently lists 50,000 properties in more than 3,600 locations worldwide, and is aiming to more than double the inventory by the end of 2012, with over 20 per cent of the listings in the Asia Pacific region. “We started as a peer to peer service but soon realised that there were plenty of specialist management companies and small, family owned apartment buildings offering mid- to high-end accommodation that appeals to smart, sophisticated and independent business and leisure travellers.” said roomorama co-founder Jia En Teo. “Less than 10 per cent of our clients look for shared accommodation. Couples, families and groups of friends want added privacy and amenities such as their own kitchen and living room and we fill the gap between budget and high-end luxury when it comes to longer stays.”

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A PUSH to attract more Chinese tourists (from China)to the Gold Coast will not be enough to rescue the region’s tourism industry, according to Dreamtime Resorts director Garry McKenzie.

He said while Chinese visitors should be made welcome, it was unlikely smaller tourism operators would benefit as the Chinese have a tendency to travel in controlled packaged group tours and “won’t be buying a pie at the corner store”.

Mr McKenzie said focusing on one country was short-sighted and could damage the Gold Coast’s domestic and New Zealand markets.

“The heart of our tourism industry is and always will be the serviced apartments, motel and camping-ground operators; the people who cater to the mum, dad and the kids who have always been our bread-and-butter business,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Our international market is primarily fed from New Zealand and I don’t see China becoming our key overseas visitor source.

“New Zealanders have a special affinity for the Gold Coast.

“They certainly embrace our lifestyle and blend in with everyone here.”

He said Chinese tourists were less likely to support smaller businesses and would stick to big hotel chains.

“The small operators won’t see them and the money they spend will likely stay within the high-end, big-ticket places,” Mr McKenzie said. “Let’s not sacrifice our bread-and-butter markets to chase the big overseas markets.

“China would be very welcome but on its own it’s not going to be the saviour of our tourism industry.”

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A fantastic alternative to hotel or motel accommodation are serviced furnished apartments which are well suited to those on vacation, business executives and people relocating that require short term accommodation for a period of a week or two while in Melbourne city. By staying in serviced apartments you can expect to save around 40% on hotel bills as well as enjoy the many benefits of having a home experience. You can easily locate a rental apartment to suite your budget. For example serviced apartments in Port Melbourne are an excellent luxury solution for business and holiday temporary accommodation. You will be chauffer driven from the airport to your apartment, and the keys will be handed over, so you can check-in immediately.

Melbourne city serviced apartments are the best solution for holiday, business and temporary accommodation which are clean self contained rentals, these rentals can also be utilized for longer periods, and serviced apartments Melbourne city can be located in the internet or directly through a travel agent. All that is required is some of your time, as you can browse from the comfort of your home or office and view the 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms Melbourne city apartments, and when you find a suitable apartment, contact the reservations centre. For example 1/77 Nott Street, Port Melbourne offers a 2 bedroom apartment, 2 bathrooms and accommodates 4 people comfortably. This is a brand new serviced apartment is situated on the ground floor and offers the ultimate in style and luxury. The apartment is 100% self contained, very spacious with a large balcony and lots of natural light. Additional beds can be provided. There are a number of things to do and see on Melbourne city such as the Arts Centre which is the busiest and largest performing arts centre that attracts around two million visitors annually. There are theatres that host modern dance, a wide range of music, drams, classical ballet, and the Arts Centre also manages the much sought after Melbourne city outdoor venue and Sidney Myer Music Bowl. This centre also showcases the history of the performing arts, contemporary arts and leading names from the 20th century.

You can spend a day shopping on Chapel Street, as there is a myriad of shops ranging from high end fashion to more hip old fashions. This is a premier entertainment and shopping strip that houses a selection of over 980 pubs, nightclubs, street cafes, restaurants and shops, and has been names Melbourne’s style and fashion capital. There is no shortage of public transport, and be sure you take a ride on the iconic trams of Melbourne city.

This is a good report I found on Brisbane Times!!

Here’s the thing about Australian shores. Body paranoia aside, everyone is equal on home beaches.
For this reason, the country’s first full-service beach valet feels a little out of character. Sandy class systems prompting green eyes and hoity-toits just don’t ring true blue.
Or so the dream goes.

But even sentimental blokes have learned to appreciate the finer things in life. Luxury has come to Australia, and we like it. Top-shelf retailers know this. Real estate agents survive because of it.
And the world’s best brands in holiday-making are cashing in, big time – $700million big, in the case of Hilton Surfers Paradise, the first major hotel to hit Gold Coast in a decade.

After nearly three years development, Hilton arrived at the heart of Surfers in September with two towers of hotel and apartment accommodation, a full menu of leisure options – and the beach valet.
Available exclusively to guests, the service takes the leg work out of beach tripping. Forget wrestling with a sunshade or sunscreen scrambling – your personal attendants will see to this, and more. This is reward, no effort – simply turn up, kick back and enjoy the view from under a big, shady, Hilton-branded umbrella.
Returning you gaze are a few hundred fellow sunbathers, some less genially than others. Do you lap up the luxury or cringe for the lucky country? The choice is yours, the pleasure is Hilton’s.

But this development was always going to be a game changer.
The gracious design from the brains trust at the Buchan Group (Melbourne’s Langham, Sheraton, and Intercontinental hotels) has managed to lift the height of the skyline without bruising the skin. A high street retail strip built into the complex at ground level will vastly improve the surrounding precinct, once the tenancies are filled.

Inside, the lobby is generous, dark and understated. This is not a multi-million dollar development keen to feature opulence, extravagance and glitz on the bill – an approach that fits with the grand designs of a redeveloping, Commonwealth Games bound Gold Coast.

The restraint continues in the accommodation upstairs. A spacious, two-bedroom, ocean-view unit boasts quality finishes, clean lines and all the amenities you’d expect from the big name in American hospitality. Functionality is the key luxury here. Beyond the generous balcony unfolds an open-plan dining, lounge and granite-benched kitchen. Flat-screens, robes, slippers, black-out curtains and Hilton ‘serenity’ beds add to the air-conditioned comfort plumped by a turn-down service and pillow menu.

Sweeping views of the beach and a fully-equipped kitchen make staying in with room service sorely tempting. Especially if the hard-partying Cavill Avenue strip just beyond the lobby’s front doors leaves you cold. Self-catering gourmands may opt to entertain with provisions sourced from the hotel’s Food Store downstairs, a European-style delicatessen with decent coffee and champagne by the glass. Excellent ice-cream and chocolate varieties, meats and cheeses make for easy DIY tasting plates great for in-room dining. They also do picnics, just right for a beach valet.

Holidaymakers inclined to leave kitchens untouched are also well catered to; good food and water is available the lounge bar Fix, all sultry, candled sex appeal. Happily, interesting glassware matches the liquid marvels offered on the well curated cocktail list, and the snack menu stretches from French fries to caviar. Such considerations marks Fix as more than just another standard issue hotel watering hole.

Similarly distinctive is Luke Mangan’s Salt grill, though while the bar and hotel at large studied subtlety, the restaurant went for obvious wows. Mangan’s name is everywhere; the crockery, the menus and on the lips of fairly decent wait staff – it’s distracting, and disappointing, though the food and healthy wine list helps dull the pain. As do treatments from the eforea spa, or the conscientious food, beverage or sunscreen service metered out by smiling attendants at one of four beautifully landscaped pools.
In short, Hilton Surfers Paradise is a new brand of lucky country luxury.

The writer stayed as a guest of Hilton Surfers Paradise (it is honest!)

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