By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
Speaking with Australian Hotelier for its Annual Industry Leaders Forum issue, Justin Hemmes, CEO of Merivale, explained how the concept behind the redevelopment of The Newport is one of an all-inclusive and welcoming space, that can cater to all demographics, social gatherings and food offerings.
The northern beaches hotel is on a sprawling estate, that under the guidance of Merivale’s design team will feature many different food and beverage offering spaces, and a large games area to make the venue family friendly. When asked if it was fair to compare the concept with that of Coogee Pavilion, Hemmes agreed that there were parallels between the two venues.
”I’d say it’s a similar concept. That we want to offer a number of different offerings and we want to do great quality at a good price. Also that it’s accessible to all ages. It’s very family friendly, you can go there with the kids, you can go there for a first date, you can go there with your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your husband or your wife. It’s for all walks of life.”
As such an iconic hotel that is known throughout the country, it would be possible to position the hotel as a must-see or tourist attraction, however Hemmes believes for the pub to be successful, the focus should be a little closer to home.
“I’d love it to be a destination of course. But I think the principle around getting it right is making it something special for the locals – if we do that well enough, then it becomes a destination for tourists that are in Sydney to go up there – exactly the same as Coogee Pavilion.
“We get so many tourists at Coogee, because they’ve heard about it from people saying ‘You’ve got to go and eat there’ or ‘Go and have a drink there’. But we’ve designed it for the locals. The fact that it then becomes a place that tourists want to go is a bonus.”
Renovations are currently underway at The Newport, with the first stage of redevelopment likely to be finished in February. Hemmes is focused on getting it right.
“It’s a large job, but we’re taking our time. But you know with such a great setting you don’t have to do too much to make it the special venue that it is.”
To read more from Justin Hemmes on the state of Merivale in the last twelve months, keep an eye out for Australian Hotelier’s Annual Industry Leaders Industry forum issue, available in mid-February.