“Five or six new openings a year, that’s what we try to achieve. Realistically, it will probably take us a good chunk of 10 years to get there.
Mr Sanjana, who was managing director for five years of Quest Apartment Hotels, 80% owned by Singaporean group The Ascott, said that despite its relatively small size, Veriu is already the largest accommodation operator owned by the ‘Australia.
“It’s funny, the Australian accommodation market is very consolidated. Most of the big operators continue to buy any of the smaller operators who get any scale,” he said.
“Even though we are as small as we are, we are still Australia’s largest wholly owned hotel group in the country.
“We’re quite happy to do the work that’s required over 10 years and then maybe we’ll be a target somewhere down the track.”
Veriu is working with developers, signing long-term leases rather than a franchise like Quest, and has secured deals for new Veriu hotels & Suites in Fremantle, Western Australia, and the inner Melbourne suburb of Cremorne.
He also signed three new leases for Punthill Apartment Hotels in suburban Melbourne, Sunshine and Footscray, and another in the Hunter Valley town of Maitland.
Mr. Sanjana hopes that everything will “kick off” this year.
“Right now we are trying to develop a medium-sized hotel business in a country that has been undersupplied for decades.”
Mr. Sanjana made similar growth predictions at the end of 2019 before COVID-19 rolled over the accommodation industry.
Business has now rebounded. “Trade is now probably as strong as it was before the pandemic,” he said.
“As a group, our occupancy rate was over 90% in March, and it looks like April will be stronger than the pre-pandemic April.
“So it’s positive after a few tough years. The only issues we face now as an industry are how do we get enough people to work in our hotels?”