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Elena oversees Mandala Hotels and Resorts’ third-party expansion

Elena Martiniuc on how a major push into the property management sector on behalf of third-party owners is proving to be a winning strategy for the group

As the Director of External Managements for the rapidly growing Mandala Hotels and Resorts, Elena Martiniuc is across every facet of hotel operations.

Ms Martiniuc, who has a wealth of experience in the hotel industry, oversees the business’s rapidly growing branch that manages properties owned by third parties. The Mandala group runs 35 properties throughout Australia, mostly in regional centres. The company is making a major push into the property management sector on behalf of third-party owners, something that Ms Martiniuc said is proving to be a winning strategy for the group.

This article was published in the new Autumn edition of AccomNews available now. Read it HERE

“I’ve been involved in hotel operations in every department you can think of,” Ms Martiniuc told AccomNews, “and John Zeckendorf and Ryan Shaw who started Mandala have a depth of experience from their accounting backgrounds.”

Ms Martiniuc’s career in hospitality started as the assistant front desk manager at the Monte Nelly Hotel in the Republic of Moldova in 2001. Then, stints as the Operational Property Manager at Millennium Properties in Chicago, General Manager at that city’s Red Carpet Inn, Duty Manager at the Holiday Inn at Auckland Airport, and then four years in various executive roles at the BWH Hotels in Sydney.

Mantra Bunbury Lighthouse Hotel

She joined Mandala Hotels and Resorts in February last year as the key executive in charge of managing properties not directly owned by the fund.

“We are very much industry disruptors because we do things differently to the way others have been doing it in hospitality,” Ms Martiniuc said.

“The funds own properties as freehold and leasehold, we manage properties for other people, we are landlords, we own the asset and lease it out – we know different structures. We also work with management rights and strata buildings – not only in Queensland but also in the Northern Territory.”

Ms Martiniuc said John Zeckendorf works with owners and investors “and the holistic development of group”, and Ryan Shaw looks after the properties the group owns, while she concentrates on “third-party property management” for other owners.

The group pares down its expenses by sharing labour costs between properties and utilising other careful management strategies. Ms Martiniuc explained these efficiency measures ensure better returns for the group’s investors without sacrificing the quality of the hospitality product.

“We don’t have an office so that’s also a large saving and working remotely has proved to be very effective,” she said. “Every person at Mandala brings their own set of expertise and we work very well together but autonomously.”

The Mandala group’s Queensland properties include the Mercure Cairns, the Peninsula Boutique Hotel in Port Douglas and the Mantra in Mackay. In regional New South Wales, they run the Rydges Armidale, the Best Western Plus Ambassador in Orange, the Thunderbird Motel in Yass, the Lincoln Downs Resort in Batemans Bay, the Mercure Albury, the Mantra Bathurst and their very first property, the Berry Village Boutique Motel, acquired 16 years ago. There are also properties in Darwin, Western Australia and Tasmania.

“We acquired two properties last year in Western Australia,” Ms Martiniuc said, “and we signed a management agreement for a new-build hotel in Perth, the Sydney Charles Quarter in the old Pickle District.

“We run independent hotels and branded hotels, but we are brand agnostic for our third-party owners.

“If there is a strong owner preference we can go with that brand and negotiate a better price, but we can also make an assessment on what is the best brand for that hotel – the better fit. However, having no brand sometimes works better.”

She said having efficient and effective management strategies in place, meant the group was able to navigate COVID-19, its associated lockdowns and the hospitality staffing crisis that followed better than many other hotel groups. Their management strategies proved so successful during the most challenging times that they decided to also manage properties for other owners.

“That’s now going very well for us, and we are going full force at this third-party management. Last year we added seven new properties to the group,” Ms Martiniuc said.

“We also assist a lot in developing properties to help owners save money and we get involved with distressed properties to help those owners. Our priority is to make sure investors are getting a good return. It seems to be a successful strategy, with Mandala doubling in size every two years.”

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