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The Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne

MIRVAC’S SEBEL AND CITIGATE SEBEL PROPERTY IN MELBOURNE’S ALBERT PARK CONTINUES TO PERFORM WELL IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE – THANKS TO A $15 MILLION TRANSFORMATION LAST YEAR.

WORDS JAMES WILKINSON

While some properties in the 4-star tier have the great debate of whether to refurbish or not, others that took the opportunity to do so over the past few years are reaping the rewards of better occupancy and a higher RevPAR.
One property performing well in the current climate is The Sebel and Citigate Sebel, Albert Park Melbourne.
The former 379-room Carlton Crest hotel underwent a dramatic transformation by Mirvac in 2008 that saw the company spend AUD$15 million to create a new experience that now comprises a 242-room Sebel and 137-room Citigate Sebel on the Albert Park site.
The investment is continuing to pay off for Mirvac, with the property performing better year-to-date.
“The hotel is currently performing well, considering the current market conditions,” said General Manager Craig Bond. “Following the refurbishment to this 4.5-star hotel and where we sit in the market place conferencing and corporate business is going strong year-to-date with 70% occupancy and a 20% occupancy increase from this time last year.


Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, Bond said he believes some markets will grow, while others will soften.
“We will not see a lot of growth in rate, but we will see some growth in occupancy over the next twelve months with our leisure guests utilising the lower pricing options at our two brands,” he said.
One of the most challenging segments for most Australian properties in 2009 will be the MICE market and like many, Bond admits it’s going to be tough.
“The MICE market for the hotel is currently performing well, but going forward it will be very tough and competitive in the market place,” he said. “We will pride ourselves on being able to be very flexible with everything that we offer to our clients.
The Sebel and Citigate Sebel Albert Park features one of Melbourne’s largest event spaces, with 28 variable space rooms on offer.
While the property has been strong on the MICE bookings side since re-opening in July 2008, Bond said the response to the refurbishment has been good overall.
“Guest response has been nothing but positive following the refurbishment especially in regards to the high level of outstanding service across all departments in the hotel,” he said.
“The level of the work undertaken by the owners and level of funds spread across the entire hotel was exceptional with all the accommodation rooms renovated, extensive renovation work on all the public areas, including the restaurant, bar, café, reception, lobby, business centre and all the new Atrium features.”
Without a doubt the jewel in the crown has been the refurbishment of Windows Restaurant, which is headed up by star chef Andy North.

SNAPSHOT

The Sebel and Citigate Sebel Albert Park
65 Queens Road, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Owner: Mirvac Funds Management
Operator: Mirvac Hotels & Resorts
General Manager: Craig Bond
Relaunched: July 2008
Rooms and suites: 379 (Citigate: 137; Sebel: 242)
F&B outlets: Cafe@ Sebel; Windows Restaurant; and Atrium Bar & Lounge
Conferencing: 28 meeting spaces with maximum capacity of 1500
Recreation facilities: Indoor swimming pool, sauna and gym.

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