Art hotels add colour in regions and interstate

The Art Series Hotel Group is expanding its national and regional footprint with a new hotel in Adelaide and a smaller "studio" hotel in Bendigo.

The Art Series Hotel Group is expanding its national and regional footprint with a new hotel in Adelaide and a smaller "studio" hotel in Bendigo.

The group's three boutique hotels in Melbourne, each with the theme of a well-known Australian artist - The Olsen, The Blackman and The Cullen - have provided the springboard for the expansion.

Asian Pacific Group chief executive Will Deague this week launched a "studio" hotel.

"We're rolling out a new brand of the art series hotels called the 'art series studios'," Mr Deague said.

The floor plate and lift columns of the first, a 128-room Art Series Studio in Bendigo, are near completion, and the final stage of the $20 million project is expected to open in May next year.

The boutique art-themed hotel will feature original works by its namesake artist, whose identity will be revealed in February, in all guest rooms and foyers.

"It's going to be the first hotel I know off that will have original artwork in every room, in every corridor," Mr Deague said.

The fitout will include a ground floor communal space, library and "service orientated luxury", he said.

The four-plus star "studio" hotel will bring an element of luxury, up to now absent, from regional hotel offerings. The hotel's rooms and en suites will be constructed using factory-built modular "unitised building components" from Michael Argyrou's Hickory Group, in a process expected to take just 11 days to assemble on site.

Another studio-style hotel, The Larwill, set to be finished in December 2014, will be in Parkville near the Royal Children's Hospital. Also near completion is the $108 million hotel, The Watson, named for indigenous artist Tommy Watson, due to open in Adelaide in July next year.

"We're looking at every capital city for the Art Series," Mr Deague said this week, revealing that the group had also narrowly missed out to Chinese investors on the purchase of a Pitt Street building intended for another hotel.

As a result it was expected to join a "hotly contested" list of upmarket brands hoping to run hotels in two Sydney CBD sandstone buildings that the NSW government is offloading.

The sale of the historic Education and former Lands buildings on Bridge Street was "one of the greatest sites to come up in Sydney for a hotel".

"It's going to be hotly contested," Mr Deague said. "We're going as hard as we can."

Mr Deague said the group was looking to expand both the studio and Art Series concepts in NSW.

Reports suggest Asian Pacific Group will face stiff competition from international luxury operators such as the InterContinental Hotel Group's Indigo brand, which is expected to register interest in Sydney's sandstone buildings.

APG was "looking for new projects" after recently completing 150 apartments in Frankston at the old Peninsula Centre on the Nepean Highway and an office addition to its Bell City development in Preston.

sjohanson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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