Exclusive by JAMES WILKINSON
Sydney’s boutique Observatory Hotel is set for an extensive makeover once Langham accepts the keys from current owners Orient-Express on August 8.
Speaking exclusively to HM at the property yesterday (Jun 28), Langham Hospitality Group’s CEO Brett Butcher said the company would undertake an upgrade of the luxury hotel in order to bring it up to global standards.
“We want to put it back to where it used to be in the market [and] it’s going to be one of the best new products in town,” he said.
Butcher said a major aim of the renovation, which will not involve the hotel closing for works, was to lift rates as well as product, positioning the property alongside Park Hyatt at the top of the Sydney market.
“We are hoping to get the right rate here [and] we need to spend some money,” he said, adding the renovation would not simply be minor works at the property which first opened its doors in 1992.
“The whole hotel needs to be renovated… there’s a mandate to position the property at the top of the market.
“We want to re-present Sydney with the finest accommodation,” he said.
Butcher said the Hong Kong-based company had a desire to enter the Sydney market since the debut of The Langham brand in Melbourne seven years ago and he believed the strong branding across Australia, New Zealand and Asia would have an impact in Sydney.
“We are a major player in cities at the quality end of the market [and the brand’s positioning in Auckland and Melbourne] would add a lot of value to the Sydney hotel too,” he said.
Langham’s growth in recent years has seen the company expand significantly into China and Butcher said that would bode well for business in Sydney.
“As our brands grow in China, this is where we can value to this asset,” he said.
While Langham is finally set to debut in Sydney with an iconic property, Butcher said he could see the company’s other brands – Langham Place and Eaton – put up a flag in the Harbour City in the years to come.
“We’re not done in Sydney yet,” he said.
Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth are also on the list of potential Australian cities, with Butcher saying the Western Australia capital in particular offered a couple of significant opportunities.
Butcher’s wish list for Langham hotels globally also includes hotels in New York, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Paris.
The chain’s third United States hotel is set to open in May 2013 with the debut of The Langham Chicago, one that Butcher says “will offer the best accommodation in town” – and that’s exactly the calibre to expect in Sydney and future Langham cities.