New management for Top End hotels

 Kakadu’s Crocodile Hotel, to be run by Accor from March 31. Source: Supplied

Kakadu’s Crocodile Hotel, to be run by Accor from March 31. Source: Supplied

TWO iconic hotels, Kakadu’s Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge, have undergone a management shake-up after a quarter of a century under the one brand.

French hotel giant Accor will assume the management of the hotels from March 31, replacing the Intercontinental Hotel Group in a move the owner, Kakadu Tourism chairman Rex Wild, says will inject “fresh blood”.

As with most Northern Territory properties, wet season occupancies at both the Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge have fallen to 30 per cent. Qantas’s decision to cut flights to the NT, including services from Cairns and Perth to Uluru, has not helped.

“We have spent all these years with (IHG’s) Holiday Inn, but because things are a bit tight in the Territory and in the Australian tourism industry we need to get ourselves an advantage in the marketplace,” Mr Wild said.

“During the wet in the Territory we don’t get a lot of occupancy. One of the things we hope for with Accor coming into the team is to (implement) a wet season strategy.”

“But the major reason for IHG being replaced is … we are looking for someone with fresh ideas. Accor has a big interest in Aboriginal employment matters and it has an indigenous employment program which we want to tap.”

Mr Wild said he hoped to attract more Asian tourists to the NT. “We need to encourage the Chinese to come to the outback and get them away from the eastern seaboard.”

Accor has struck a five-year management agreement with Kakadu tourism, and it will rebrand the 110-room Crocodile Hotel as a Mercure while the 48-room Cooinda Lodge will become part of the Ibis Styles branding.

Accor honorary chairman, David Baffsky, who until recently was the chairman of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, which operates the five-complex Ayers Rock Resort, said there was a downturn in NT tourism due to the reduction of Qantas flights from Cairns and Perth. “Increased flight capacity into Darwin is not the same sort of traffic – it is more corporate than leisure-related,” he said.

IHG chief operating officer, Australasia, Alan Watts, said the decision to cease managing the hotels was reached by mutual agreement between the parties.

“We are committed to working closely with suitable partners in key locations and with the right brands. In the rare instances like this, where agreement cannot be reached, we believe it is better for both parties to amicably part ways and look at other opportunities. We’re disappointed these hotels will be exiting our group; however, we believe it is the right decision for both IHG and Kakadu Tourism.”

Source: The Australian


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