Historic Lorne Hotel sells to Merivale

Yesterday we reported Merivale paid $24m for Leichhardt’s Norton’s Irish Pub.

Merivale has made its second Victorian acquisition – this time on the Surf Coast.

The hospitality group is paying the Upham family $38 million for the c1876 Lorne Hotel – the state’s biggest freehold going concern deal this year.

Built in 1876, Lorne Hotel has been extended and renovated.

JLL Hotels & Hospitality’s John Musca and Will Connolly brokered the off-market negotiation.

The purchase comes a day after we reported Merivale bought Leichhardt’s Norton’s Irish Pub for $24m.

The group made its maiden Victorian acquisition last month, spending $43m on the Melbourne CBD’s Tomasetti House, to occupy.

Lorne Hotel is opposite Louttit Bay.

Lorne Hotel

Mr Musca said Australia has very few oceanfront hotels like Lorne Hotel.

On 4860 square metres at 176 Mountjoy Parade, on the south west corner of Great Ocean Road – the property has unobstructed water views over Lorne Beach and Louttit Bay.

The venue is the base for the popular annual 1.2 kilometre Pier to Pub swimming event.

It last sold in 2009 – one of eight assets offered by former publican Rick Munday who at the time lived in Geelong’s Newtown, about 65 kilometres closer to the city.

Coincidentally the same agency marketed the pub then.

“To have the pleasure of guiding the transition of a landmark from long-time private owners to committed industry stakeholders like Merivale, is quite special,” Mr Musca said.

Mr Connolly added “the Lorne Hotel is truly a once-in-a-generation asset and to attract an operator of Merivale’s talents is a testament to the reputation that not only the hotel has built, but also the town of Lorne itself, having rapidly become a tourist attraction of national significance”.

The Upham family has operated the venue – with accommodation, bar, beer garden, bistro and function room – for nearly 20 years (story continues below).

The deal also includes four neighbouring holiday apartments.

It is licensed for 10 electronic gambling machines.

It recently underwent a major revamp which saw high-end restaurants MoVida and Coda Lorne become occupiers.

“The Upham family couldn’t think of better custodians of the Lorne Hotel than the Merivale Group,” Paul Upham said.

“We leave knowing that the residents of Lorne and tourists that visit our beautiful town will have an amazing experience when visiting the venue,” he added.

Merivale owner Justin Hemmes described Lorne Hotel as an iconic venue in a “truly spectacular” location.

Merivale’s maiden Victorian purchase – Tomasetti House – cost $43m last month.

“It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know John and Paul Upham, who have been the proud custodians of the venue for the last 11 years; we feel honoured to continue their legacy and help usher the pub into the next phase of its incredible 145-year history,” he added.

More deals to come: JLL

“The sale is a tangible example of the commencing flow of capital across borders from the ever-tightening NSW hotel market, seeking compatible scale and brand opportunities,” Mr Musca said.

“More examples of this capital will follow,” according to the executive “with JLL having a further $250m of pub assets under due diligence or final contract in Q2, 2021, alone”.

Further off-market deals will be announced before the end of FY21, he added.

One is expected to be The Whale at Narooma, in southern NSW – again to Mr Hemmes who in March bought the region’s The Quarterdeck.

Merivale has also been speculated for some time to be behind a purchase of Byron Bay’s Cheeky Monkey Restaurant and Bar.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.