Intrepid Travel to enter hotel game with an eye on millennials

Melbourne-based tour group company Intrepid Travel is throwing its hat into the accommodation ring with plans to open 15 hotels across Australia and New Zealand in the next four years.

Intrepid has partnered with the Drifter Hospitality Group to raise $75 million to acquire bargain properties and turn them into “hybrid” hotels with an eye on the millennial demographic.

Intrepid chief executive James Thornton said Covid had resulted in a “significant dislocation in hospitality”.

“There is an opportunity to drive what we think, hopefully, will be outsized investment returns by buying and repositioning under-performing hotels in prime locations,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Drifter is led by Barrenjoey investment banker Hugh Stephenson, New Zealand tourism entrepreneur Ryan Sanders and marketing executive Joshua Hunt, with five New Zealand properties already in its portfolio and three more in its sights in Auckland, Wellington and Brisbane.

The new group’s first hotels will open next year in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch under the new ‘Drifter – an Intrepid Hotel’ brand.

The joint property fund is aiming to grow to $500 million in the long term giving it further scope to expand into Asia.

Intrepid’s new hotels division will be led by former managing director APAC Sarah Clark.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be expanding into the accommodation vertical, with Drifter being our first launch partnership,” Clark said.

“We’ll offer high-quality, unique accommodation and sustainable experiences in the heart of buzzing urban CBDs and neighbourhoods. With travel reopening, people looking to reconnect, and the opportunity presented with city real estate, it’s the perfect moment to embark on this expansion phase.”