History of Success and Innovation
Hospitality Pty Ltd is one of the Western Australia’s largest wholly Australian owned motel and apartment management companies. From the time it developed Western Australia’s first modern motel, Hospitality has lead the way in the development of the Hospitality and Tourism Industries in Western Australia.
Since 1962, the Hospitality Group was formed with the name of Highway Motels and since then has been at the forefront of the development of Hospitality and Tourism ventures both in WA and nationally, and at one time successfully operated hotels and motels in every state of Australia and in New Zealand.
DEVELOPMENT OF HIGHWAY MOTELS
In 1961, at the request of The Hon. Sir David Brand (former Premier and Minister for Tourism of WA), John Pye founded the Hospitality Group with a company known as Highway Motels Ltd and began the Hospitality journey. In 1962, the first motel in Western Australia was constructed.
The company developed and acquired motels in Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Bunbury, Albany, Esperance and Carnarvon. Highway Motels steadily increased the number of its operations to cover the major Western Australian towns from Madura (in joint venture with the Shell Company of Australia Ltd) in the East to Esperance in the South and Port Hedland in the North.
The company also added other types of accommodation, from caravan parks to five-star hotels, in Western Australia, other Australian states, and New Zealand.
Highway Motels took over the Village Motel Group, who operated motels in Victoria and Tasmania. It was renamed to Highway Village Motels Pty Ltd and built a new property at Mt Gambier in South Australia.
The Group also purchased the ill-fated Noah’s Hotel Group, which was following its main owner, the Mainline Construction Group, into receivership, but was saved by John Pye’s team. It was eventually taken over and became the basis of the Rydges Hotel Group.
In 1980, the Company had re-branded its Highway Motels as Hospitality Inns and the main operating Company became Hospitality Inns Pty Ltd to create a unique name.
By 1987, the Group controlled two thousand rooms and employed more than 1,500 employees and was the biggest largely Western Australian owned operator of hotels and motels in Australia.
In 1987, John Pye retired from full time work and the former Highway Motels Ltd and Noahs Ltd companies completed an agreement with their then existing shareholder the Greater Union Organisation Pty Ltd (G.U.O) that saw the high rise hotel division of the company become part of G.U.O’s Rydges Hotel Group. John Pye and Hospitality Inns Pty Ltd’s other shareholders purchased full control of its Western Australian motels and Hospitality Inns Pty Ltd. John’s younger son Chris Pye took over as CEO of the Group with John and his elder son David Pye and daughter Merrilyn Beros on the Board with their long-term friends and investors Kevin Harrison, Harlan and Verna Mullins and Olive Barry. Olive Barry’s daughter Mary-Anne now owns that interest following the passing of her mother and Kevin Harrison recently sold his shares back to the Pye Family.
Hospitality Pty Ltd was formed and the second generation of the Hospitality Group began a new journey with renewed enthusiasm for the future.
In 1989 Hospitality Inns purchased a 50% stake in one of Australia’s leading inbound tour operators “Great Aussie Holidays” which it operated with its founders for almost 20 years before selling in 2008 to AOT.
DEVELOPMENT OF QUEST APARTMENTS
In 1989 Hospitality Inns resolved to diversify into the Serviced Apartment sector of the Tourism Industry which presented a significant market opportunity for the Hospitality Group. As a result, they acquired their first serviced apartment management contract over the Arlington apartment complex in South Perth.
They subsequently acquired the management contracts for the Victoria Apartments complex in Hay Street Subiaco, the West End Establishment in Perth and the Quest on James establishment in Northbridge all very successful developments undertaken by the Fini Group of Companies with consulting and management services provided by Hospitality Pty Ltd.
In 1995 the Hospitality Group established a very substantial franchise marketing and referral organisation for serviced apartments in a joint venture with Paul Constantinou’s Quest Inns Group based in Melbourne linking properties throughout Australia first under the “Quest Hospitality Serviced Apartments” banner and more recently known simply as Quest.
The Quest Serviced Apartments brand enjoyed enormous growth under the Joint Venture growing from 7 properties initially to more than 150 properties and around Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with more than 326 of those apartments in Western Australia. Quest was Australasia’s largest national master franchise operator for serviced apartments when Hospitality sold its interest back to Paul.
DEVELOPMENT OF BEST WESTERN IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
In 1992 Hospitality Inns created a state-wide network of quality 3 ½ – 4 ½ star hotels and motels aimed at both the corporate and leisure markets, aptly named Hospitality Inns Australia in joint venture with Laurie and Marlene O’Meara. This then ultimately developed into a joint venture agreement with t the international hotel group “Best Western” in 1994 in a joint venture creating a new referral network “Best Western Hospitality” opening up a network of over 250 accommodation properties throughout Australia and being part of the “World’s Largest Hotel Chain” with over 4200 properties in 80 countries.
The network became the most effective motel referral and marketing network in Western Australia.
Since the establishment of the network many other excellent Western Australian properties have joined giving Best Western a very substantial complement of highly sought after Western Australian motels and hotels.
To allow Best Western Australia to comply with certain internal Best Western network requirements the shareholders and directors of Hospitality Inns Australia agreed to sell back the ownership of the WA network to Best Western Australia.
In 2001 the Hospitality Group helped to establish a syndicate to bid for the Skywest Airlines assets from the receiver of Ansett Airlines, which eventually joined others in a small syndicate of WA investors who purchased Skywest Airlines. Hospitality Inns was the seventh largest owner of Skywest. This reflects the Hospitality Group’s ongoing commitment to the development of WA tourism projects and to support this very important and historically profitable WA regional airline. Once the Company was stabilised and operating efficiently and finally listed Hospitality Pty Ltd sold its interest – fortunately at a useful profit and reinvested the money in other WA Tourism activities satisfied that their part in saving an important piece of Western Australian Tourism Infrastructure was done.
In 2004, following a significant drop in the regional travel done by the corporate market and the steady growth of the internet killing the previously profitable travelling representative trade, the Hospitality Group launched an innovative tourist website, DriveWA.com. The aim of this was to attract the leisure self-drive market to regional WA and, in particular, to their five motels in Esperance, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Carnarvon and Port Hedland.
DEVELOPMENT OF ECO RETREATS
2006 saw the formation of a new company, The Eco Company, to develop and manage the Karijini Eco Retreat with the well-respected Perth based investment and property group, the Hawaiian Group, and innovative builder and hospitality operator Karl Plunkett’s Eco Constructions in the spectacular Karijini National Park for the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation.
The Eco Company managed the Karijini Eco Retreat for about a decade until recently.
DRIVING HOLIDAYS AND WA PASS
To assist Western Australian domestic operators to work together to improve the quality of the experience and numbers of people taking self-drive holidays around WA, the Hospitality Group has established the innovative WA Pass and DriveWA brand to provide great value holiday packages and exciting discount opportunities to people taking a Western Australian escape holiday.
The Hospitality Group been working and investing in the development of Western Australia’s Hospitality and Tourism Industries since 1962.
Some years ago, the Hospitality Group began a process of greening up its business by taking control of its own laundries so it could control how that part of the business ran and by encouraging guests to save electricity where they could.
In more recent times they began a process of installing solar arrays to reduce their reliance on non-renewables which is critical to the long term success of regional WA tourism given our reliance on international and interstate tourists who are becoming increasingly committed to net zero emissions by 2035 and even earlier – and because if our business and the regions we work in do not commit themselves to a greener world our clients will vote with their feet and go somewhere else.
The first solar array was installed in Geraldton in 2020 and both Port Hedland in 2021 and Esperance the following year have been completed. Kalgoorlie is slated to be next.
PREPARING FOR THE EV REVOLUTION
The construction of the solar arrays is just the first stage of a multi-stage transition to non-renewables and to preparing for the Electric Vehicle revolution that is about to happen now – after being a possibility for some time but not a reality. The rapid warming of the planet – whether accelerated or not by man is becoming an inevitable force in tourism politics and the tourism industry world-wide and whatever view one holds of that, the inevitable truth is that we need to prepare for the outcomes that will happen – which are that tourism clients will increasingly support those who support the nett zero emissions policies and the progression to a much greater number of EVs being on the road.
That will mean that all Hospitality properties will need an EV charging station capacity in the immediate future, and we will need to become more EV friendly. In our directors’ view that provides the greatest challenge we have met for some time – given the shorter ranges of EVs and their unsuitability for outback driving in their current situation by comparison with the old fashioned combustion engines running on non-renewables.
So we will have to be clever and innovative and remain an early adopted and adjust our business models to take advantage of the opportunities EVs present including the huge roof spaces we have that can all eventually become power stations – so we can offer cheap recharging and good service to the owners of EVs to encourage them to visit the regions and stay for longer and take more day trips around our regions and so visit more of our neighbours and feast on the joys of regional living.
This progress will eventually lead to large battery storage options and larger than normal solar arrays at our properties which we are moving to in a staged fashion as the transition is very capital intensive and some of the technologies are still very expensive as they are in their early stage of development and the numbers of units produced are still relatively small.
All these technologies will get cheaper over time and in a few year’s we will be looking to battery banks and still more energy from our arrays etc. It is an exciting time to be in regional tourism and promoting regional self-drive holidays in EVs.
Over many years Hospitality provided services to the Doctors, staff and patients of the hospitals near their motels and had enjoyed a very successful long term relationship with the St John of Gods Hospital which was the other side of the road from Hospitality’s Geraldton hotel. In 2008 a Joint Venture with the Hospital saw a staff carpark developed on Hospitality’s spare land and the relationship has continued to develop. During Chris Pye’s time with Quest a number of project discussions with health funds and hospitals saw a couple of Medical Apartment Suites designed but sadly the Hospitality interest in Quest was sold before any of them were built. Hospitality is currently applying to rezone its spare land at Carnarvon to allow it to be used for Medihotel and over 55 accommodation and intends developing and operating medihotels and over55 accommodation in a new division called MedihotelsWA.
Hospitality has also operated many serviced apartment complexes via its interest in Quest and its own investments in apartments in Geraldton on the hotel site and the Kalbarri Edge Resort it owns a substantial interest in and which it and its partner Jon Jessop of Sunpoint Nominees Pty Ltd via their joint venture company called Kalbarri Edge Pty Ltd.
Over recent years the Airbnb division has lead to the creation of professional operators who run Airbnb apartments for people who wish to invest in AIrbnbs but do not wish to take the bookings, collect the money, meet and greet the guests and clean the property and do the linen etc. So Hospitality Apartments has been revived to provide a very professional service to apartment owners who wish to become investors in the short stay hospitality industry but who want professional operators to do the work for them.
I have enjoyed many years in this business and Hospitality looks forward to many more and the new challenges that await us all.
Chris Pye A.M. LLB(Hons) UWA – Chair and Chief Executive Officer.