There’s a new group on the Sydney scene that’s disrupting traditional hospitality and accommodation models to bring local communities more holistic lifestyle venues.
the people_ is a new group within the Sydney market driving a new concept of venue that blurs the lines between hospitality, accommodation, lifestyle and wellness to create suburban venues that tailor their experiences to the local communities and what appeals to them most. The group is founded by Andrew Taylor, founder and managing director of Cre8tive Property, with almost 20 years of experience in hotel development, design, investment and operations; and Paul Schulte, the creative director and partner of The Keystone Group for 15 years, responsible for creating the concepts of venues such as The Winery, Cargo and Prince of York – venues that are still popular today.
The pair has known each other for well over a decade, and have been planning the launch of this hybrid concept for some time, drawing inspiration from similar concepts overseas like the Soho House and Ace Hotel venues.
“We’ve wanted to do something in the hotels and lifestyle space in Sydney for a long time, and I think in the last year it was a case of right time, right place and then right partnerships. So the partnerships were about securing the first couple of assets and really bringing together the people here, which is best-in-field talent to complement our skill sets. This is us doing something that we really believe in and that we think Sydney is lacking,” explains Taylor.
Unlike other operators, the people_ will not operate every aspect of each venue, instead creating partnerships with operators that are known for a particular type of offering. For example, at their first venue to open, The Norfolk in Redfern, a wine bar and café will be run by local and esteemed hospitality operators.
“We’ve got partnerships and experts in field that will ‘plug in’. That will be a part of our brand going forward, working with people who do certain things super well and bring their own spin on it, and ideally are from the area. And if we were going to go to the Hunter Valley or Melbourne we’d do exactly the same thing,” says Taylor.
Focused on the neighbourhood
Schulte and Taylor have hit the ground running, acquiring five pub venues across inner Sydney – The Norfolk, Redfern; The Camelia Grove, Alexandria; The Exchange and Town Hall in Balmain; and The Exchange in Darlinghurst – to transform with their new concept. And while all venues are pubs to date, it’s their location that is the key focus, particularly when it comes to the accommodation offer. The people_ are betting on two key shifts within the accommodation market: that travellers want to have more authentic experiences in inner city suburbs rather than just staying in tourist-focused CBDs; and that younger renters are looking for affordable options in neighbourhoods that they are being priced out of.
“Approachability is an important play and we see that as a huge thing, as the cost of living is really becoming quite ridiculous in Sydney. Unless you’ve got huge deposits, this younger generation is moving elsewhere. We want to be able to give them the platform to stay in Sydney in these areas and live in an affordable way where they’re connected to a whole heap of services, bars and restaurants that we have got access to,” states Schulte.
Partnerships with the local community will again be an integral part of the venues – not only from an operations point of view, but to create a real holistic lifestyle within the space. Venue guests will be directed towards local amenities such as coffee shops, laundromats and art galleries to create a synergistic and authentic neighbourhood feel. To drive that home, each venue is looking to hire staff that mainly live within the area.
“We want to give back to the community. Where I was brought up [in the UK] you’d work in the local pub and you knew everyone who came in. It became a community-based place for people, and for us that’s really key for our managers throughout Sydney,” explains Danny Webster-Clamp, group GM – hospitality.
Want to keep reading? Check out the rest of the profile of the people_in the May issue of Australian Hotelier below.