By JAMES WILKINSON IN AUCKLAND
Weeks of industry speculation have come to a close, with Accor revealing to HM the five Mirvac hotels that won’t be joining the Paris-based chain.
Speaking exclusively to HM at the New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference (NZHIC) in Auckland today, May 31, Accor’s Chief Operating Officer for the Pacific, Simon McGrath, said the five hotels were Citigate Perth, The Sebel Warrnambool (Victoria), Citigate Mount Panorama Bathurst (NSW), The Sebel Tauranga (New Zealand) and an unopened project at Cromwell Park in Auckland.
Citigate Perth was purchased recently and next month (June) will re-open as Four Points Sheraton Perth, while The Sebel Tauranga is becoming an independent property. At this stage, it isn’t known what the owners’ plans are for The Sebel Warrnambool or Citigate Mount Panorama Bathurst.
“It was extremely impressive that 43 out of the 48 hotels joined Accor,” McGrath said. “Hotels such as Citigate Perth had already been sold, while hotels in Bathurst, Warrnambool and Tauranga decided to go their own way.
“The deal adds over 3000 rooms to the network in Australia and New Zealand and brings us close to 250 hotels in the Pacific,” he told HM.
McGrath said he was happy with how the integration had gone to date, particularly the Sydney Marriott’s change to a Pullman.
“Yes, [I’m] very happy,” he said. “Obviously the biggest initial challenge was to re-brand Sydney Marriott to Pullman Sydney Hyde Park overnight, but the Accor and Mirvac teams worked exceptionally well in communicating with existing and future guests about the change, and with all the collateral and signage changed we were able to have guests go to sleep in a Marriott but wake up in a Pullman.
“Amazingly, it was a relatively seamless operation and augurs well for future re-brandings, especially as we will have considerably longer time to achieve the changeover.
“We are already planning the renovation programme for the hotel, which will see the remaining rooms upgraded and the creation of a whole new chic and sophisticated lobby area. Once the upgrade to Pullman’s 5-star standards is completed, it will offer an exceptional product in an exceptional Sydney location.
“The next hotel to be rebranded is The Sebel Newcastle, which will become a Novotel, but for the rest of the Mirvac network, the integration process will take a little longer as we discuss with owners which Accor brand will best improve the performance of their hotel.
“In terms of human resources, the teams are already very integrated, with the process starting at the beginning of the year.
“Obviously, there will be a period when former Mirvac employees specialise in the hotels or areas that they were looking after while working for Mirvac but we will be moving quickly to offer joint tendering, sales representation and distribution, procurement and other services where Accor can deliver additional benefits to the hotels,” he said.