Billionaire apartment developer Harry Triguboff is taking his Meriton Suites hotel brand to the national capital, acquiring a Canberra site for $23 million.
The move marks the company's first foray into the Australian Capital Territory, acquiring a site to build a 17-level, five-star hotel in the city's CBD.
The 1,734sq m corner site, a six-storey office building tenanted by the Australian government, was purchased off-market deal from the Australian Unity Property Income Fund.
Triguboff has developed an estimated 70,000 apartments in a construction career that started 57 years ago, building high-rise towers for affordable accommodation.
His 9,400-unit portfolio is made up of half serviced apartments and half leased units with the hotel arm of the business becoming more dominant in the slower market.
The company founded its serviced apartment business in 2003, which it later rebranded as Meriton Suites.
It currently comprises 19 hotels and 4,644 self-catering suites across Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, making it one of the country's largest owner of hotel rooms.
Triguboff, 86, said the move into Canberra was a logical progression for Meriton Suites.
“Canberra long has been on our radar because it’s drawing nearly three million visitors a year.
“Many people going there are on business, often politics related, and visit for multiple nights.”
Canberra's civic precinct is currently going through significant regeneration changing to a mixed-use area that is expected to see an uptick in ground-level and after-hours activity.
Meriton Suites general manager Matthew Thomas said Canberra's status as the purpose-built national capital, was a drawcard for international visitors.
“It’s ranked third by Lonely Planet among its best cities in the world to visit and has international flights arriving daily.”
Thomas said the proposed Canberra casino redevelopment would also be a positive for the tourism and leisure markets.
Canberra's accommodation market has strengthened over recent years with analysts reporting continued increases in occupancy rates, average daily rates and revenue per available room.
New offerings like the Little National Hotel and Hotel Hotel, which opened in 2013, are adding to the perception of Canberra as a boutique hotel capital.
The 84-guest room Quest Hotel, developer by Sandran Property Group, opened late last year while Geocon opened its sixth hotel, in Kingston.
Geocon has also started construction on its $1 billion Republic project in Belconnen, the largest-ever development in Canberra, with 1,200 apartments as well as a hotel and retail component.
Meriton's Canberra acquisition marks the group's expansion into two new state or territories, beyond NSW and Queensland, in the past three months.
Meriton took a first step into the Melbourne market by buying a $29 million King Street site near Southern Cross Station on which a 303-suite hotel is planned.
“Who knows, we might pop up in places like Adelaide and Perth one day soon,” Triguboff said.