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Exclusive: 94 Feet’s big hotel sector ambitions

Ninety Four Feet team - EDITED

94 Feet’s Managing Director, Dean Rzechta, talks to HM about the company’s ambitions in the hotel sector on the back of today’s(May 11) Aloft Sydney announcement.

Dean, tell us about the company’s background.
We’re a family-run, Melbourne-based business. Myself, together with my brother, Jonty Rzechta, joined our father’s “hobby” about a decade ago and created a business. My father, Henry Rzechta has been successful in the property space for over 30 years. With his guiding and strong principles, we’ve successfully built a growing, national business, primarily in the medium to high density residential sector and now looking to expand further in the hotel sector.3

As a company we are not just interested in developing sites. We seek to create architectural and engaging buildings that leave a legacy long after the project is complete. We specialize in challenging projects that require a delicate balance of diplomacy, artistry and science.

Dean Rzechta primarily focuses on the front end identifying and securing the sites and taking ownership over the architecture and planning phase. Upon approval, Jonty then steps up taking over the financial side of the business bringing the project to life and securing all necessary funding arrangements. The brothers then both side across the delivery phase of the project but in very different capacities.

Why hotels and not just stay with residential?
The hotel sector was a natural progression for us with the metrics and recurring annuity providing a very compelling investment opportunity. Sydney CBD was the most attractive market for us to pursue with the sole reluctance being an in depth understanding of local planning guidelines and restrictions.

After purchasing the 302 Pitt Street site in 2013 we considered several options, including more traditional and accustomed concepts, but in the end were drawn by the strong performance and insatiable appetite of the Sydney hotel sector.

Sydney is on the cusp of a new era and a hotel boom. There is almost a strange anomaly occurring in the market for a myriad of reasons and I am led to believe the number of hotel rooms in Sydney today is less than that of a decade ago. Couple this with all the positive data relevant to the hospitality sector and the fact that Sydney is the highest performing market, makes it a very attractive option as a developer.

Why did you go with Starwood?
Partnering with Starwood from the beginning was really a no brainer, both operationally and reputation wise. Their performance across their Sydney assets leads the nation and it was paramount that for any operating/day to day management, we wanted the best. However, we had to run a competitive tender process and felt the Aloft Brand the best strategic fit for 302 Pitt Street.

Why the Aloft brand for your Pitt Street site?
Why the Aloft brand? We felt that the location with the evident gentrification suited the brand and we have strong views on the growth and potential catering to the next generation of traveller – the tech savvy traveller. No other brand services this traveller like Aloft does and potentially being Australia’s first was exciting!

We’re also heavily design driven developers and a design led brand like Aloft allows us to have fun and explore design aspects and opportunities with leading architects and designers, such as Scott Carver and Carmen Glenister of Opera Studio Design, who we have engaged for this particular project. It’s also exciting to be piloting a new concept with these designers. We have huge confidence in the Aloft brand and the success it will enjoy in a city like Sydney.

Future ambitions in the Australian hotel industry?
We are continuing to review opportunities in this space with a number of other hotel opportunities in both Melbourne and Sydney under due diligence. We are still accepting that we are fresh to the sector but see it a very compelling, exciting and satisfying strategic fit for family business and we’re keen to do more with Starwood.

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