Apartment hotels on the rise in Australia

By John Walton, December 5 2011
Apartment hotels on the rise in Australia

Australia seems to be the land of 'apartment hotels', with an ever-increasing number rising up newly built or converted from existing buildings in our CBDs, around our airports and in business-focussed areas.

Australian Business Traveller sat down with Kent Davidson, Group Director of Sales and Revenue at apartment hotel specialists Mantra, to discuss the increasing popularity of apartment hotels.

In addition to the extra space and less boxy feel that apartment hotels bring compared with regular hotels, Davidson says that a key reason for apartment hotels springing up is because they're built as what hotel industry insiders call "dual use opportunities".

"You can have them as hotels or you can have them as residential living," Davidson explains for the non-expert. "As more apartment hotels have sprung up over time, people have understood that they offer a great deal more space and flexibility to the business traveller than the traditional hotel blocks."

The Mantra on Cavill on the Gold Coast is definitely aiming for a chic yet homey feel with that wicker chair.

"You have your own little kitchen, you probably have a separated living and bedroom area, you (might also) have an outdoor area and some washing facilities. You probably feel like you're at home."

Davidson couches some of the homely aspects with a 'probably', since not all apartment hotels have all the features he mentions, but he cites these home comforts as a particular draw for Australians.

"I think it works better for Australians in particular. It's a little bit more the Australian way. We like a little bit more space and flexibility and independence."

"We don't like being boxed in physically or mentally, and apartments give us some space and flexibility to do that. So if you want to go out and buy some food to make, if it's a long stay situation, you can fend for yourself a little bit more."

That's very attractive for business travellers, fed up by mediocre meals in typical business hotels.

And apartment hotels are offering new and innovative services as a result. Apartment hotel group Quest offers a "pantry shopping" service, where the staff will stock your fridge and cupboards with whatever you need, either awaiting your arrival or during your stay.

This is an especially useful service for business travellers away from home for several days: breakfast with your favourite brand of coffee and cereal like you might at home is much more attractive than sitting in a dim hotel restaurant with mediocre cappucinos and watery eggs three or four days a week.

Stays in apartment hotels across Australia do tend to be those multiple-night trips, Mantra's Kent Davidson told us.

Perth is the capital city with the longest average length of stay in the Mantra group's hotels, with an average of exactly 3.00 nights.

That's not particularly surprising given WA's distance from the eastern cities, but it does suggest that the airlines' increasing emphasis on comfort for Perth-Sydney red-eye overnight flights hasn't wooed travellers away from spending the night in a hotel.

That compares with Sydney at 2.88 nights, Darwin -- where US President Barack Obama recently stayed at one of Mantra's apartment hotels -- at 2.81, and all the way down to Canberra at a 1.95 nights' average.

Rounding out the capital city average night figures are Melbourne at 2.20 nights, Brisbane at 2.18, and Adelaide at 2.16 nights.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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