Profiles

The Manor Apartment Hotel

Style, form and functionality come to mind when describing one of Brisbane’s finest hotels, The Manor Apartment Hotel.

Set in a charming, heritage-listed, boutique environment it’s everything a guest could want in luxury four-star accommodation.

The Manor Apartment Hotel is a Brisbane landmark renowned for its use of Benedict stone for the facing, and elaborate masonry work incorporating stylised eagle, owl and lion gargoyles that are featured extensively on the building. Originally known as the Colonial Mutual Life Building and then Newspaper House, the building was totally refurbished in 1994 and re-opened as The Manor, now home to 45 apartments that are sought after by corporate and leisure travellers alike.

In April 2010 husband and wife team Paula and Robert Whittingham took over the management rights to the hotel.

AN23-2-Manor_Apartment_Hotel_-_LogoPrior to taking over, the couple had been working in the hospitality and tourism industry for the past twenty years. During that time Robert developed one of the country’s leading boutique resorts, Lilianfels in the Blue Mountains, founded and operated the Blue Mountains Hotel Management School which is now the largest in Australia, and also developed and operated for many years a tourism complex called The Edge in the Blue Mountains.

In addition Robert is a qualified electrical engineer.

Paula was the inaugural head of admissions at the Blue Mountains Hotel School and then went onto become the inaugural head of admissions at the International College of Management Sydney. She also played a significant role as venue coordinator of the Arrivals Centre at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, a role in which she embraced with a great passion.

With such an extensive portfolio Paula and Robert were ready for a new challenge and moved to Brisbane to manage The Manor Apartment Hotel.

“We had not envisaged a move to Brisbane, however, when the opportunity arose to purchase The Manor we spent nearly five months evaluating the business and felt that it presented a unique opportunity. We absolutely loved the location, it’s probably the best positioned hotel in Brisbane, with a great heritage building built in 1930.” Robert said.

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The pair could see huge potential in the complex and found that a number of the apartments needed renovating straight away.

“We took a serious lead role there by developing new design concepts for the apartments, where we put forward suggestions of design and furniture packages to the owners and we’ve had wonderful support as a result,” Robert said. “One of the big issues, though, is that we are dealing with an old building that’s heavily used and prior to us moving in there could have been possibly more regular maintenance programs put in place.

“But we’re addressing the issues and once again we’re getting good support from the body corporate who are making the funds available to do some of the work that is necessary to bring it up to scratch,” he said.

Paula and Robert also found that the property was being substantially under marketed, trading at an average of 68% occupancy.

“I think a lot of people in management roles see themselves as selling apartments. As far as we’re concerned we’re selling bed nights so our marketing philosophy is that we are competing with everybody in Brisbane. And that requires a marketing philosophy that’s quite different to just opening the doors and saying here’s an apartment if you want it,” Robert said. “We track our room rates daily and we move our rates regularly. We recently employed the services of WebProfits and Hemisphere Hospitality Solutions to assist us in the development of our recently launched website and we have been delighted with the immediate results. With the implementation of search optimisations, direct sales and marketing, package deals and expansion of our activities on international booking sites, our occupancy has risen to an average of 80% (although it is currently standing at 92% this month),” he said. “Needless to say we’re improving the return to our owners and they are generally quite happy as a result.

“I think we’ve been blessed by the fact that Brisbane’s market has improved but like anything you have to go and get it, it doesn’t walk in the door. There’s a lot of people competing and everybody’s out for the same market,” Robert said.

“With all the administrative experience Paula has along with my engineering background, we have both felt that we could comfortably take on this major project… and I think it highlights the fact that coming into this business you need to evaluate your previous backgrounds particularly in complex buildings which this one undoubtedly is,” he said.

The heritage listed Manor Apartment Hotel is situated in the heart of Brisbane’s city centre.

Ideal for both business and leisure travellers who enjoy the comfort and convenience of apartment style accommodation with the ultimate city address.

The hotel hosts 45 apartments ranging from standard studio room to two bedroom fully furnished apartments.

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The popular Studio Rooms offer a comfortable alternative to a standard hotel room. These large rooms (40m²) are ideal for short stays or overnight accommodation for up to two people. All studio rooms also offer the option and convenience of combining with an adjoining classic one bedroom apartment.

The Classic Apartments provide spacious open-plan accommodation, ideal for business, leisure and longer stays for up to two people. All apartments are fully self-contained thus allowing guests the comfort and convenience of apartment accommodation. Classic apartments are approximately 45m². The apartments feature a separate bedroom with a spacious lounge/dining area, bathroom, kitchen and laundry. All classic single bedroom apartments also offer the option and convenience of combining with an adjoining studio room.

Twice the size of a normal hotel room, the Superior one bedroom apartments offer 85m² of spacious open-plan self-contained apartment living, ideal for business and leisure. All Superior apartments are fully self-contained offering guests the comfort and convenience of apartment accommodation. Many of the hotel’s Superior apartments offer views of the city skyline and surrounds.

The open-plan self-contained two-bedroom apartments (85m²) offer excellent value for the business colleagues travelling together or family or friends who require a bit of extra space (a home away from home). Two bedroom apartments can comfortably accommodate up to five people. Comprising a spacious lounge and dining room, each apartment features two bedrooms each with separate bathrooms, as well as a fully equipped kitchen.

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