Australian Venue Co. has made a move into the winter tourism sector with an acquisition at the Mount Hotham ski resort in Victoria.

The group has acquired the leasehold of the Hotham Hotel – previously known as Swindlers Bar – which is a key food and beverage venue located in the Hotham Alpine Resort at the foot of the ski fields.

According to Australian Venue Co. (AVC), the move is a logical expansion into another of Victoria’s domestic tourism hubs – it’s the second in as many months with its recent acquisition of The Terminus at Yarrawonga, a summer tourism town on the Murray River.

The Hotham Hotel is in a prime position to attract skiers with its pub classics menu, and the pub also hosts regular live music and the weekly Wednesday darts which attracts local teams. 

“We are very interested in assets that have a strong exposure to domestic tourism and are proud to be able to take over the operations of such an important venue on the Mount Hotham ski fields,” AVC CEO Paul Waterson said.

“Victoria is a significant market for Australian Venue Co, and while the majority of our venues are currently in metro areas, we will continue to invest in tourist-friendly locations outside the CBD in addition to our metro pubs, they are the logical progression as we grow. We are really looking forward to working with the Hotham Hotel team.”

Waterson told Australian Hotelier that the Hotham Hotel offered a nice counter-cyclical balance to its summer tourism-focused pubs.  

He noted that it’s traditionally been hard to enter the winter tourism market due to alpine hotels being owned by a small number of groups and individual families. He also said the Hotham Hotel had a slightly different operating model to AVCs hotel portfolio, given the short Winter season.

“That’s why traditional pub operators haven’t moved into these spaces. But as you get larger, you have more ability to move your team around. If you set your systems up in a similar way, you can move staff up the mountains in peak season, and they can hit the ground running easily.”

Waterson said although the current ski season had been significantly challenged by the latest lockdowns, the move was future-focused.

“This is about looking through this current cycle and at a life post-Covid, and fortunately, we now have a roadmap which is great.”

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