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Welcome to ‘‘hotel central’’

By Meg Hill

Docklands is becoming the go-to place for international hotels looking for a new presence in Melbourne.

If plans come to fruition, Docklands could contribute nearly 900 new hotel rooms by 2019.

InterContinental Hotels Group is the latest to invest in Docklands, having announced last month its plans for Australia’s second Hotel Indigo at 699 LaTrobe St.

Hotel Indigo – the product of a partnership between IHG and Salta Properties – will open in 2019 and include 170 hotel rooms, pool and gym facilities and a street facing restaurant and bar.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with IHG to bring Melbourne its first Hotel Indigo where residents of 699 LaTrobe St will have access to long-term leases and have all of the amenities of a world-class hotel at their doorstep,” Salta CEO Sam Tarascio said.

The Quest network’s largest Apartment Hotel and Marriott’s Docklands Hotel are both also set to open in Docklands in 2019.

MAB Corporation is developing Quest’s 221 units on the corner of St Mangos and Caravel lanes.

Marriott’s project is a $96.1 million development by Capital Alliance on the edge of Harbour Town Shopping Centre and will include 200 hotel rooms spanning 18 storeys.

Capital Alliance has submitted a new application for planning approval for a more modest version of a proposal which was last year rejected by the Planning Minister Richard Wynne and later ruled out by VCAT.

The Altus, a multi-purpose tower hosting a 266-room Park Royal’s hotel in Digital Harbour, was announced in 2014 for a mid-2017 opening but is yet to break soil.

“We’re still waiting on funding to be approved,” Digital Harbour director David Napier said.

Mr Napier was confident the building would proceed and said other hotel groups had since made approaches about other Digital Harbour sites.

He said the appetite for more hotels in Docklands showed no signs of slowing.

The Four Points by Sheraton, including 273 guest rooms, opened on March 28 and Peppers Docklands, our first 5-star Hotel, opened in March last year.

As a central location, Docklands’ appeal to hotel investment may stem from an apparent lack of supply in 4-5 star CBD hotels Australia-wide.

Deloitte’s 2017 Tourism and Hotel Market Outlook reported that occupancy rates for luxury and business hotels in Australian cities was close to 90 per cent.

However, the National Australia Bank’s 2016 commercial property sentiment survey predicted that this shortage was likely to turn into over-supply within three years.

Rivalling the hotel industry’s interest in Docklands is the controversial presence of various short-stay apartment accommodations, including those offered through Airbnb.

On March 24, The Australian Hotels Association’s Victorian CEO Paddy O’Sullivan told a parliamentary hearing into the Owners Corporations Amendment (Short-stay Accommodation) Bill 2016 that policy development was needed to regulate new modes of short-stay accommodation.

“We do believe that government intervention is required to ensure that fair and equitable application of regulations in the accommodation sector are provided to discourage the conversion of residential lots into quasi hotels,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“We are opposed to quasi hotels which is, in essence, commercial tourist accommodation being provided out of residential houses or apartments.”

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