Australia’s richest man, developer and Meriton chief Harry Triguboff, is no stranger to controversy, having famously suggested 10 years ago that Sydney had “too many forests and parks” and that developers should be allowed to build over them.
Triguboff, who last month ranked as Australia’s richest man, is racing toward another pinnacle – becoming the nation’s biggest owner of hotel rooms. Meriton Serviced Apartments arm, sitting at No.2 for two years, is expected to assume the top spot later this year when a raft of new projects will take its hotel suite numbers to 4621.
That figure will grow to 5296 in 2017.
In 2006, in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Triguboff said developers should be allowed to build in national parks and reserves. He called for a big increase in immigration, saying the population of Sydney should be 20 million by 2050, with the population of Australia 150 million.
Today, Triguboff’s burgeoning portfolio, the result of a decision 12 years ago to diversify the Meriton business, will see it overtake the Abu Dubai Investment Authority as Australia’s biggest accommodation owner.
The Abu Dubai sovereign wealth fund bought the 4352-room hotel portfolio of Tourism Asset Holdings in 2013.
Triguboff, who last month topped the BRW rich list with a AUD10.62 billion fortune, said that his move into serviced apartments had been a resounding success.
“I’ve got my foot on the accelerator.
“It didn’t take me long to learn that if you own the buildings and run them properly yourself rather than lease them out, the serviced apartment hotel business can be very lucrative.
“So we’re taking every opportunity, when the location’s right, to build more serviced apartments.”
The Meriton hotel portfolio is spread through 16 buildings in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Matthew Thomas, national manager of Meriton Serviced Apartments, yesterday says the group expects to end this year with 4621 suites in the wake of new suites coming on stream in Mascot, North Sydney, Parramatta and at Southport on the Gold Coast.
“We’ll be adding even more suites in 2017 that will take our portfolio to nearly 5300.
“We are bullish because the market is truly embracing the Meriton Serviced Apartments brand and because Tourism Australia is very positive about the future.
“We are able to offer buildings that are all less than 10 years old, afford great views, provide people with space options and the chance to be fully independent through having full-sized kitchens and laundries.”
Thomas said Meriton was running a very professional, five-star business and was unrelenting in polishing its brand.
“Our staff recruitment system, induction process and training has really paid dividends in terms of customer feedback.
“Our staff all are immaculately uniformed, wear name badges and know the value of a smile.
“The reward is that we’re ranked extremely highly on Trip Advisor, often No.1 in all locations.”
At Meriton the suites range from one-bedroom apartments through to three-bedroom penthouses such as the one that caps the 74-level Infinity tower in Brisbane.
Thomas said that the Meriton Serviced Apartments were in most cases up to 10 per cent cheaper than hotels in equivalent locations.
“The bonus is, of course, that you can get a two-bedroom suite far cheaper than taking two hotel rooms.”
Edited by Peter Needham