Flight Centre to expand with hotel management, ownership

Kent Davidson was until recently Mantra Group’s executive director of sales, marketing and distribution.

Flight Centre – the largest retailer of travel in Australia – is checking into the hotel business.

The group is reportedly keen to expand into hotel management, leasing and ownership – with sites in Sydney and Melbourne on its radar.

According to this item in The Australian, the group already manages hotels and resorts in Southeast Asia.

It is now looking to lease hotels on Australia’s east coast for terms of 10 years or more.

“We will lease anywhere where we have heavy demand,” the group’s global hotel network general manager, Kent Davidson (pictured, left), said, adding that locations in Bali, Fiji and the Maldives are also being sought.

Hotel ownership would also be considered, Mr Davidson told the media outlet.

In late 2007 – just prior to Global Financial Crisis – Flight Centre paid $31.3 million for a Melbourne office at 436 St Kilda Road (pictured, top) which it later occupied as its local base. It listed this asset for sale a year later with price expectations of between $25 million and $30 million, but then decided to retain it in 2010.

Last month we reported that Hyatt Centric leased all of an as-yet-unapproved hotel mooted for 2-10 River Street in Melbourne’s trendy South Yarra. The 10 -level, 153-key inn is proposed by local developer Alfasi Property Group which paid $18.5 million for the land holding last November.

Hyatt Centric has also committed to lease all of a 30-storey, 280-suite hotel set to start construction soon at 27 Downie Street in the Melbourne CBD – a site billionaire businessman Paul Little acquired permit-ready for about $30 million mid-last year.

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Marc Pallisco

A freelance property writer and experienced analyst, Marc is the co-founder of realestatesource.com.au