Oscars Hotels have sold The Strand Hotel, on the fringes of Sydney’s CBD to a new group with a hybrid concept.

The freehold going concern of the Darlinghurst corner pub was sold off-market on in a campaign led by JLL Hotels & Hospitality’s John Musca.

The Gravanis brothers had just completed a $3 million renovation on the pub, which now includes 25 fully ensuited accommodation rooms with a 3.5 star rating, 21 EGMs, trading approval until 4am, and a ‘u-shaped’ bar layout that services the entire pub.

The hotel has been purchased by new group the people_, headed up by Paul Schulte and Andrew Taylor. The Strand Hotel is the latest acquisition for the fledgling group, having recently purchased The Norfolk in Redfern, the Camelia Grove Hotel in Alexandria, the Exchange and Town Hall Hotels in Balmain, and the Exchange Hotel in Darlinghurst. The group’s venues will not only focus on hospitality, but will be driven by accommodation and a new lifestyle concept across the board. You can read more on the people_ in the May issue of Australian Hotelier, to be released shortly.

Oscars Hotels has been quite active on the pub market in the last six months, most recently purchasing the Beachcomber Hotel and Resort on New South Wales’ Central Coast. On the sales side, the group divested the Plantation Hotel in Coffs Harbour at the end of 2020 for roughly $10 million. The group has a renewed focus on larger hospitality complexes, more in line with the Beachcomber Hotel and the Towradgi Beach Hotel.

Musca commented: “The transaction was a result of understanding the very different profiles and investment drivers of two important clients and creating a confluence of their needs, with both parties achieving a desired outcome.”

The sale of the Strand Hotel also underlines the continued popularity of off-market sales currently.

“This is the first of five separate metropolitan Sydney hotel sales in the past 5 weeks that we are about to announce, demonstrating the relentless aggregation appetite within the sector and liquidity reflecting the very strong current market fundamentals,” stated Musca.

The managing director recently spoke to Australian Hotelier about the current preference towards discreet campaigns.

Wagga Wagga hot property

Elsewhere in New South Wales, regional hospitality listings are becoming more “scarce” this year, evidenced by this week’s transaction of Wagga Wagga based Romano’s Hotel, which pushed the town into its greatest year of pub sales on record.

Romano’s, which logs estimated annual revenues of more than $3.2million (excluding accommodation), received seven competitive offers to purchase by the close of the sale process, which was managed by HTL Property’s Blake Edwards and Sam Handy.

Romano’s recently underwent a $1.6m renovation and refurbishment. It features a bar, bistro, large beer garden, three spacious function rooms each with a dedicated first floor kitchen and bar, 15 EGMs and over 45 accommodation rooms.

Locally based Oates family, led by father Murray Oates and his son and daughter-in-law Matthew and Lauren purchased Romano’s after a syndicate of owners based in Wagga Wagga and Sydney said it was time to hand over the reins of Romano’s.

“We are delighted with the purchase and look forward to taking over the operation very soon. We intend to bring the hotel back to a traditional style pub that concentrates on good service, good food and good time,” Matthew said.

Shareholder and licencee Belinda King added: “Romano’s Hotel has gone through a massive transformation over the last five years, and the syndicate is proud of what has been achieved. It’s now time for us to hand over the reins so we can all focus on other commitments. I’m sure the Oates family will guide Romano’s through the next era with great success and ensure Romano’s Hotel remains a Wagga Wagga icon.”

It’s the second Wagga Wagga pub transaction in as many weeks, with the Sportsman’s Hotel selling to a syndicate led by Sam Cruikshank and local publican Sean O’Hara.

“We have been frankly blown away by the strength of the market, and depth of appetite from buyers for regional hotels in the first three months of 2021” Edwards said.

“Each year balance sheets become stronger and stronger whilst conversely, quality pub opportunities become scarcer and scarcer.”

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