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Will Deague, Zhong Chen and Bob East

Art Series Hotel Group has opened the doors to its eighth art inspired hotel, The Chen, in Melbourne’s Box Hill, and the first under new owners Mantra Group.

Named after and inspired by the Chinese-Australian abstract artist, Zhong Chen, the 100-room hotel was opened yesterday with an official ribbon cutting by CEO of Mantra Group, Bob East.

The day also marked the official handover of Art Series from Will Deague, CEO Deague Group, to Mantra Group, the final step in one of the biggest property portfolio acquisitions of the year.

Will Deague and Bob East with a Zhong Chen painting

Speaking about the acquisition, Bob East told HM: “Mantra Group acquired the Art Series Hotel Group because it was a rare opportunity to acquire a collection of exceptional hotels, which is expected to enhance our existing portfolio and presents a unique opportunity for Mantra Group to increase our footprint across three key locations Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

“The hotels have been operated to the highest standards by a passionate and dedicated team and we look forward to working with the owners, team members and guests to ensure a smooth transition.

“We are delighted to welcome such iconic and favoured properties to our growing network of hotels and resorts,” he said.

One of The Chen’s guest rooms

Of the decision to sell Deague told HM: “After eight years growing the business from the ground up we decided to exit to focus on our core business, property development. The business grew to eight hotels across Australia and due to the nature of hotels being very service-orientated, it was taking up too much of our time and we thought it was a good time to exit after getting an approach from Mantra, as we think they are the best brand to continue the growth.

“I will continue to act as CEO of Deague Group but might get a round or two of golf in now however.

“I sincerely hope that the brand continues to grow and develop around Australia,” he said.

So what are Deague’s plans for the future? He told HM: “We [Deague Group] currently have over 1,200 apartments under construction, a 6 star hotel in Brisbane on the river and a new office complex in Melbourne to start next year as well as getting close to making a major acquisition in the mixed use space so we have enough on for the minute. We won’t run hotels but would look to develop if the deal stacks up.”

The Chen is located at 850 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill Vic.