Intrepid Travel hybrid hotels
The Drifter - an Intrepid Hotel - brand will open in Christchurch in 2022.

Adventure self-guided and group tour company, Intrepid Travel, is set to branch out into the accommodation sector, announcing plans for a sustainability-minded ‘hybrid hotel’ joint venture with New Zealand’s Drifter Hospitality Group.

Intrepid’s new hotels division will be led by the company’s former Managing Director APAC, Sarah Clark, assisted by Chief Sales Officer, Brett Mitchell. Amid global expansion plans, the project will begin with eight properties in Australia and New Zealand, with the first three to open in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch starting from 2022 and growing to 15 by 2025.

Intrepid Travel hybrid hotels
The Drifter brand will feature a hallmark of cultural food and beverages with a communal feel for travellers.

Branded as ‘Drifter – an Intrepid Hotel’, there are also plans to open Australia’s first location somewhere on the east coast next year, however a more specifics location is yet to be revealed. The company has plans to take the concept global, creating a property portfolio built around repositioned hotels, hostels, repurposed commercial sites and newbuilds.

Drifter is a new hospitality company formed by tourism entrepreneurs Ryan Sanders, investment banker Hugh Stephenson and marketing executive Joshua Hunt, with Sanders to merge the hotel and lodge operations of another of his businesses, Haka Tourism Group, into the new entity. There will be no change to Haka’s small-group guided itineraries in New Zealand, which operates separately under a number of additional sub-verticals including Educational Tours for school and university groups, Nature Tours for German travellers and Snow Tours for high-end luxury-seekers.

Intrepid Travel hybrid hotels
Hotels will feature communal areas for travellers to mingle and make friends.

The accommodation arm is backed by investment bank Barrenjoey and is now in the process of raising an AUD$75 million fund to acquire and reposition selected hotels to reopen as Drifter properties. The objective, according to Intrepid, is to grow the portfolio’s value to AUD$500 million over time.

Aimed at experience-seeking millennial travellers, the hybrid Drifter guest experience will see hotels offer both private and shared accommodations along with communal areas and cultural food and beverage offerings.

Sanders said he was thrilled to be partnering with Intrepid Travel “with their decades of experience in international tourism and their global leadership in sustainable travel, along with their operational expertise and brand strength”.

Intrepid Travel hybrid hotels
The first three Drifter hotels will be open in 2022, with plans to grow to 15 by 2025.

Intrepid Travel CEO, James Thornton, said the company has long recognised the potential to bring the company’s knowledge of sustainable travel and international tourism to the hotel sector.

“With Drifter, we’ll create truly unique hotels that travellers will love and the opportunity to grow across the region is profound,” he said.

Intrepid’s newly appointed Managing Director Hotels, Sarah Clark, said the hybrid concept will provide a new type of stay for local, domestic and international guests.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be expanding into the accommodation vertical, with Drifter being our first launch partnership,” Clark said.

“We’ll offer high-quality, unique accommodation and sustainable experiences in the heart of buzzing urban CBDs and neighbourhoods. With travel reopening, people looking to reconnect, and the opportunity presented with city real estate, it’s the perfect moment to embark on this expansion phase.”

Drifter hotels will be carbon neutral, with sustainable practices to be incorporated across interior design, service, amenities, utilities and wider operational practices.