Bumper weekend for hotels

The arrival of more than 40 warships, 16 tall ships, 60 aircraft and 8000 sailors, not to mention Prince Harry and diehard interstate fans of the Manly Sea Eagles or the Sydney Roosters, and Sydney will be a busy place this weekend.

The arrival of more than 40 warships, 16 tall ships, 60 aircraft and 8000 sailors, not to mention Prince Harry and diehard interstate fans of the Manly Sea Eagles or the Sydney Roosters, and Sydney will be a busy place this weekend.

That all means good tidings for not just bars, restaurants and cafes, but hotels, serviced apartments and backpackers.

Hoteliers say grand final season is a bumper time for their business, but in Sydney there is also the EB Games Expo and of course the arrival of another Harry, a member of the international pop phenomenon One Direction, all of which have resulted in record hotel bookings across town.

This bonanza comes at a time when the hotel sector is undergoing significant changes. These range from close to $1 billion in upgrades during the past few years to the planned developments at Darling Harbour and James Packer's Crown hotel at Barangaroo South.

The latter two won't open for a few years, but once they do, it will herald a new era of assets in Sydney.

Chat to hoteliers and they will be very welcoming of new, high-star rated hotels in a city that has not seen a new one open for many years.

Mantra Hotel's director of operations, Tomas Johnsson, says in Sydney hotel bookings were already strong despite local NRL teams making it to the finals series. This was thanks to the upcoming visit by Prince Harry to officially open the International Fleet Review - marking the 100th year of Royal Australian Navy ships entering Sydney Harbour - and hotels are at full capacity.

He said One Direction, another Brit phenomenon, were also doing their bit to ensure the city was pumping with a series of concerts.

"Occupancies are expected to reach 100 per cent at CBD hotels Mantra 2 Bond Street and Mantra on Kent, with Chatswood and Parramatta hotels also filling quickly," Mr Johnsson said.

"Sydney has just been announced as the world's best festival and event city and its capacity to attract the best arts, sport, festivals and big name acts to the city is a vital part of its appeal."

Accor Asia Pacific's NSW regional general manager, Scott Boyes, said the group's hotels were forecasting 90 per cent occupancy for October, with strong rate growth in room let of 8 per cent, on the back of events across the month.

Mr Boyes said forecasts suggested the Sydney CBD would average 94 per cent full for the first week on the back of the grand final, long weekend and fleet review.

Accor's Western Sydney properties are also close to full thanks to the grand final and EB Games Expo.

"The NRL Grand Final long weekend is proving popular, with no hotels in Sydney CBD available for less than $500 per night ..." Mr Boyes said.

"Average rates available in Sydney CBD in October and November show how strong the market is currently, with rates available in October averaging $306, while November is currently averaging $292 per night." ccummins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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