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 Pty Ltd 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.
Earlier 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 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. Hospitality Inns Pty Ltd purchased back 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.
Hospitality Pty Ltd was formed and the second generation of the Hospitality Group began with a new journey and 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”. The interest in Great Aussie Holidays was sold 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 Quest Arlington apartment complex in South Perth.
They subsequently acquired the management contracts for the Quest Victoria Apartments (now Quest Subiaco) complex in Hay Street Subiaco, the Quest 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 as Quest Serviced Apartments.
The Quest Serviced Apartments brand has enjoyed enormous growth and now represents more than 2000 apartments in 111 properties around Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with more than 326 of those apartments in Western Australia. Quest Serviced Apartments is Australasia’s largest national master franchise operator for serviced apartments.
Today Hospitality Inns Pty Ltd recently sold back it’s 50% of the Quest Serviced Apartments International Brand to Paul Constantinou’s Group which has allowed them to “buy back the farm” but Hospitality still hold it’s 50% of Quest Apartments WA Head Franchise and interests in a number of the Quest Apartments businesses in Western Australian.
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, which aims to develop and manage a series of eco retreats throughout Australia under the new Ecomodation brand.
The Eco Company was initially an initiative and joint venture between Hospitality Inns with the well-respected Perth based investment and property group, the Hawaiian Group, and innovative builder and hospitality operator Karl Plunkett’s Eco Constructions.
The Hospitality Group through Ecomodation and its related Eco Company will provide sustainable management options for environmentally friendly retreats throughout Australia. The first eco retreat opened in April 2007 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.
The Group continues to lead the way with its five owned and operated regional motels under the Hospitality brand (which are members of Best Western Internationals white label brand) and the Eco Company, its management of the day-to-day operations of the Kalbarri Edge Resort which it part owns and the work it does encouraging the development of regional tourism through DriveWA.com and WAPass.
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 nett zero emissions by 2050 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 the second is on the way in Port Hedland in 2021 as this is being updated. The Group is seeking government support as we speak to enable it to complete this process throughout its properties more quickly in the hope that early in 2022 they will be able to complete solar arrays as Esperance and Kalgoorlie – considerably more quickly than it will be able to afford to do the work if they have to rely on their own resources.
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.
Chris Pye – Chair