Crown Group CEO, Iwan Sunito.
Crown Group CEO, Iwan Sunito.

Skye Suites has found itself in the fortunate position of opening its newest property – in Sydney’s Green Square precinct – earlier than scheduled for long-stay guests in an effort to provide accommodation and isolation options for travellers seeking not just a room, but a potential office. Crown Group CEO, Iwan Sunito, talks to HM about the brand’s flexibility in architecture to suit the demands of all of its guests.

How have the three SKYE Suites properties been performing over the past few months with people seeking to isolate as well as intrastate business travellers?

Skye Suites has actually experienced an increase in enquiries and has also noticed an increase in stays during this time. This can be attributed to a couple of factors, firstly Skye Suites has been designed to be abundant in their offerings with oversized apartments, full kitchen facilities and everything you need right at your fingertips, creating an urban oasis and a home away from home.

Skye Suites is architecturally created to allow spacious and open balconies that embrace fresh air and each property’s natural surroundings, which I believe was a particularly attractive offering for people who were looking to stay with us during the months of lockdowns and tighter restrictions. By having larger rooms that are more spread out and less of them, we have limited crowds and gatherings of guests which is also appealing as we all socially distance.

Interior design at Skye Suites Green Square was completed by Chada.

We have also been doing well in hotel sales as people were and still are growing tired of working from home and have not been able to do their usual and regular interstate travel. We have found that many corporates are looking for five-star urban resorts that offer them all the full facilities but still in the urban context. Guests also know that whether they stay at Skye Suites Green Square, Sydney or Parramatta, that they are getting the same offering and have the same beloved features.

Over the past few months, we have had occupancy levels of about 80-90% on the weekends and the overall vacancy has risen during the peak COVID period to an average of 60 to 70% occupancy now. We have also had many weekends that have been fully booked which is fantastic!”

Have any of the SKYE Suites rooms been modified to suit people wishing to use them for other purposes, such as private offices?

Skye Suites has been designed not only for our guests’ current needs but for what they will need in the future. We have been fortunate enough to have built Skye Suites for the future and have not really needed to do anything too drastic to make them suitable for the current environment and new norm.

COVID has particularly fast tracked the desire and need for futuristic features such as more space, natural elements and all-encompassing experiences right at your fingertips and I think this is a hotel trend that will only grow in importance in the future.

Skye Suites is welcoming guests seeking an isolated space to work.

There’s no doubt Skye Suites Green Square is an interesting exterior design. How do you expect designs like this may influence future hotel construction?

I do believe the great hotels of the world don’t just focus on the architectural designs of the interiors but also the architecture of the exterior as well. Most of the modern hotels have been built to be more about the internal facade and there’s nothing exciting about the outside of the building, they tend to look like an ordinary office block.

There’s no doubt that our guests love this point of difference at Skye Suites. Our architecture is inspiring, exciting and it creates a whole experience from the moment you drive up to the location and arrive, see the enormity and beauty of the building outside and then are warmly welcomed as you enter inside. It’s not just about a nice foyer or bedroom – we are ensuring that Skye Suites is breathtaking, not just for a moment but for the entire stay.

Sunito claims Skye Suites Green Square has been one of the city’s most Instagrammed structures.

Beyond the architecture, what we’re offering is a rich experience of the space itself. Skye Suites Green Square in particular has been the most Instagrammed building that we have had and it has become the talk of the town. Through its external and internal architecture, it has really found its identity and many times we refer to it as the new Sydney Opera House with its unique architectural shape.

In the future, I think people will realise the value of great architecture in drawing the crowds and people into a place. There are many places in the world that do just this – draw people in because of its amazing architecture, beyond a room, beyond a foyer.

What other trends and demographics have you noticed among your guests as to why they’re staying (such as staycations, holidays or something else)?

There are a lot of local people who are feeling trapped and want a weekend ‘Staycation’ but we also have people who want to stay with us on the weekdays and then they bring their family on the weekend and that’s been an amazing trend to see, how when people love a place so much, they then want to bring the people that are closest to them to experience it.

We have definitely noticed people coming to work at Skye Suites, either because they have been temporarily relocated here or are now here because of the border closures. For corporates and families alike, they love Skye Suites for its generous space offering and proximity to public transport – both imperative qualities we look for when designing and building any hotel.

Interestingly, we’ve also noticed that we are attracting a lot of the people who love the five star luxury feel of a hotel, want something modern but also a hotel that is affordable.