Intrepid Travel plans to open a series of “hybrid hotels” across Australia and New Zealand through a joint venture with Drifter Hospitality Group.
The project is Intrepid’s first move into the accommodation space and will be overseen by its new hotels division, led by former managing director for APAC, Sarah Clark.
Brett Mitchell, Intrepid’s chief sales officer, has stepped in to oversee the APAC region under his global role, as a part of the move.
Drifter Hospitality Group, which was established by Ryan Sanders as CEO with Hugh Stephenson and Joshua Hunt as co-founders, is raising a fund of initially $75 million to acquire and reposition hotels across Australia and New Zealand, with the objective to grow the portfolio to $500 million over time.
Intrepid is a 50/50 joint venture partner with Drifter and the cornerstone investor in the fund, which launches publicly this week.
The companies’ portfolio of sustainable owner-operated premium hybrid hotels will be located in prime urban locations, with eight hotels across Australia and New Zealand in the next three years, growing to 15 properties by 2025.
The group’s first new hotels will open in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in 2022, and positioned ‘Drifter – an Intrepid Hotel’, and an East Coast Australia asset is expected to be added in 2022.
Eventually, the group plans to take the concept globally, with targeted assets being a combination of repositioned hotels, hostels, repurposed commercial sites and new builds.
Hybrid hotels offer flexible room options (including private suites and shared rooms), located in popular city neighbourhoods with snazzy communal areas and unique cultural and dining offerings.
Research in 2019 by commercial real estate company CBRE found that Millennials are likely to spend more on hotels than Baby Boomers or Gen X, but that they seek transformational and shareable experiences, such as the ones offered by the hybrid hotel concept.
“We’ve long recognised the potential to bring our knowledge of sustainable experience-rich travel and the international tourism market – particularly solo and Millennial travellers – to the hotel sector,” said Intrepid CEO James Thornton.
“With Drifter, we’ll create truly unique hotels that travellers will love and the opportunity to grow across the region is profound.”
Intrepid’s newly appointed managing director of hotels, Sarah Clark, said the hybrid hotel concept will offer local and international guests a new type of experiential hotel stay.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be expanding into the accommodation vertical, with Drifter being our first launch partnership,” she 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.”
In true Intrepid fashion, the properties will be carbon neutral, and sustainable practices will be implemented across design, services, amenities, utilities and wider operational practices.