NH Sydney Airport

Minor Hotels is taking its European-born premium lifestyle brand NH Hotels and boutique NH Collection to Australia for the first time with the launch of two hotels over the next three years.

The first NH hotel in Australia will be a AU$55 million new-build airport hotel located at 102-106 Robey Street, Mascot in Sydney, set for completion in 2026.

Meanwhile, boutique upper upscale brand NH Collection will debut in 2025 at Wentworth Street in Sydney.

NH Hotel Group was acquired by Minor Hotels in 2018 and integrated into Minor Hotels’ corporate portfolio.

Speaking exclusively to HM, Minor Hotels CEO Dillip Rajakarier said the group had always intended to grow the brand’s presence beyond Europe to international markets.

“When we acquired NH – at that time, it was a Spanish-listed company in Europe – it was our intention to take it beyond the European and South American markets,” he explained.

“We have taken it to Thailand – we have an NH there and another set to open – we’ve taken it to the Middle East – we opened one in Dubai this year, right on The Palm, that’s doing really well – and now we are bringing NH Down Under.”

A 90-key upscale property, NH Hotel Sydney Airport aims to deliver “value for money, the best location to connect with the city, and service with a human touch”.

Designed by Bates Smart, the hotel will also feature a lobby restaurant and bar with all day dining options and contemporary communal spaces.

“NH Hotel Sydney Airport will cater for both domestic and international travellers, while NH Collection will attract MICE and leisure as well as business travellers,” Rajakarier explained.

The hotels boss said it’s important that NH hotels offer something different to its Oaks properties.  

“Depending on where we’re positioned, the target audience will be different,” Rajakarier said.

“We don’t want to flood the market with the same brand because then you start to cannibalise. We have an owner mindset; so by positioning the brand, based on the location, and based on the concept, we are able to deliver higher returns to owners.”

International appeal

NH Hotels’ existing portfolio includes over 330 hotels in 30 countries around the globe.

Minor Hotels Australia and New Zealand Chief Operating Officer, Craig Hooley, described the brand as “trusted and reputable” and expects it will also be popular with Australians.

“A high-profile brand throughout Europe and Americas, we are confident that NH Hotels’ easy-going, urban and fresh service offering will be very well received by Australian travellers,” he said.

With growing numbers of international travellers entering Australia, Rajakarier is confident NH and NH Collection will hold strong appeal, to Europeans in particular.

“Everyone knows NH as a brand in Europe,” he said.

“We’ve seen in Thailand; the Europeans love to stay with a brand they recognise. The ADR at our NH property in Thailand has doubled from when it was a local brand.

“NH Collection in Dubai was profitable the third month we opened and it’s running at 90-95% occupancy.

“2022 was our best year ever since we acquired NH. This year is also trending quite well, even though we saw some softness in the leisure group segment in July, but I think it’s picking up.”

Stable economy

Rajakarier said while there are some challenges in the Australian market such as inflation, interest rates and airline capacity, Minor Hotels is taking a long-term view of the market.

“I think, in the years to come, we will see much more demand for other brands in Australia. We hope Anantara and Avani will follow here because we see Australia as a stable economy,” he said.

“I think the biggest obstacle we are facing currently is the restriction in terms of the number of flights, which is causing a bit of a bottleneck, and the cost of the flights.

“When you talk about inflation and compare it to other countries like Sri Lanka (running at 90%) and Argentina (more than 150%), we’re quite privileged. It’s under control.

“The interest rates are high, but it can’t stay like this forever. Maybe by the end of next year, it will start to stabilise a bit. It’s all about being opportunistic to take that benefit now.”