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Monday, October 25, 2021

Intrepid Travel gets into beds with launch of Drifter

Asia-Pacific’s first hybrid hotel network targets millennial market

Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest adventure travel company, has today announced ambitious plans to diversify into a new vertical – accommodation – through a joint venture with Drifter Hospitality Group.

This marks Intrepid Travel’s first move into the accommodation market. Pre-pandemic, the company carried 470,000 customers in 2019, booking more than one million hotel nights a year.

Drifter Hospitality Group is raising a fund of initially A$75m to acquire and reposition hotels across Australia and New Zealand with the objective to grow the portfolio to A$500m over time. Drifter Hospitality Group was established by Ryan Sanders as CEO with Hugh Stephenson and Joshua Hunt as Co-founders. Intrepid Travel is a 50/50 joint venture partner with Drifter and the cornerstone investor in the fund, which launches publicly this week.

In a clear signal of intent in the accommodation sector, Intrepid Travel has created a new hotels division led by former Managing Director APAC Sarah Clark. Brett Mitchell, Intrepid’s Chief Sales Officer, has stepped in to oversee the APAC region under his global role, as a part of the move.

Intrepid Travel and Drifter’s portfolio of sustainable owner-operated premium hybrid hotels will be located in prime urban locations. There will initially be eight hotels across Australia and New Zealand in the next three years, growing to 15 properties by 2025. The group’s first new hotels will open in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in 2022, and positioned ‘Drifter – an Intrepid Hotel’. There are plans to secure an East Coast Australia asset in 2022.

The group plans to take the concept globally, with targeted assets being a combination of repositioned hotels, hostels, re-purposed commercial sites and new builds.

Hybrid hotels offer flexible room options (including private suites and shared rooms), located in popular city neighbourhoods with exciting communal areas and unique cultural and dining offerings. The concept is popular with millennials, who increasingly seek experiential accommodation. Research in 2019 by commercial real estate company CBRE found that millennials are likely to spend more on hotels that Baby Boomers or Gen X, but that they seek transformational and shareable experiences, such as the ones offered by the hybrid hotel concept.

“We’ve long recognised the potential to bring our knowledge of sustainable experience-rich travel and the international tourism market – particularly solo and millennial travellers – to the hotel sector,” said Intrepid Travel CEO, James Thornton. “With Drifter, we’ll create truly unique hotels that travellers will love and the opportunity to grow across the region is profound,” he adds.

“I’m thrilled that we’re partnering with Intrepid Travel, with their decades of experience in international tourism and their global leadership in sustainable travel, along with their operational expertise and brand strength,” added Ryan Sanders, Drifter CEO.

Intrepid Travel’s newly appointed Managing Director Hotels, Sarah Clark said the hybrid hotel concept will offer local and international guests a new type of experiential hotel stay.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be expanding into the accommodation vertical, with Drifter being our first launch partnership,” said Clark. “We’ll offer high-quality, unique accommodation and sustainable experiences in the heart of buzzing urban CBDs and neighbourhoods. With travel reopening, people looking to reconnect, and the opportunity presented with city real estate, it’s the perfect moment to embark on this expansion phase,” she added.

Intrepid Travel will bring its expertise in decarbonisation to ensure the highest standards of sustainability across the hotel group. The properties will be carbon neutral and sustainable practices will be implemented across design, services, amenities, utilities and wider operational practices.

Over the past 32 years, Intrepid has grown from one of Australia’s most successful travel companies into an internationally recognised travel brand. Fast Company named Intrepid as one of the Most Innovative Companies in 2021 and the company’s 2020 annual report is available here.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Diving returns to Queensland's Fitzroy Island

Island diving has returned to Fitzroy Island Resort on the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland with the opening of the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub (FISH) and its dedicated dive pool.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Australian regions set to boom from a domestic tourism recovery

With lockdowns easing in NSW, Victoria and the Queensland Government announcing yesterday it’s “plan to unite families” by Christmas, a boom in domestic tourism is on the cards. The boom is likely to be fuelled by travellers visiting friends and relatives (VFR) particularly over the summer months and then into 2022 when low-cost airline Bonza will take to the skies connecting regional Australian centres.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
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