‘Wake Up!’ in MelbourneMay 26th, 2014 | | Accommodation
The Millett family behind luxury hostel brand Wake Up! have purchased 277-279 Flinders Lane, Melbourne known as Tomasetti House. Currently operating with a mix of tenants including International language schools a retail shoe store & late trading bar-night club in the basement.
This 8-level freehold building is located in an outstanding central CBD position, directly adjacent to Degraves St & Flinders St Station.
The iconic Melbourne site will eventually undertake a full refurbishment and be converted to provide accommodation, restaurant, café, bar & night club.
Thomas at ‘The Byte’ caught up with Christian Millett from ‘Wake Up!’ this week to ask some questions about the new property and what’s in store for the project’s completion.
Firstly, congratulations to you and the rest of the Millett’s on your acquisition – I’m sure it’s no secret to many readers that you have been on the hunt for your second Hostel in Australia for some time now. Can you tell us why Melbourne and why the specific property and its location?
”Well it’s no secret that we have been looking for a long time for another location.”
”We are in the property business first & the Hostel business second so our model is a little different. We wanted a freehold property in a central CBD location that would lend itself to future hostel conversion.”
”Melbourne was always the best option it’s a clear second to Sydney and it’s difficult to secure a prime CBD location. We have had lots of options in different cities over the last few years but unless it was a prime location and we thought we could build something really special we have held off. Buildings like this don’t come along very often so when it came up we acted quickly and secured it. We first came up with the Wake Up concept 14 years ago so a lot has changed in that time. The building has tenants with leases in place for the next few years so like everything we do it won’t happen quickly. But when we do build it we would like to think it will be something special like Sydney was when it opened back in 2002.”
After many years of being arguably Sydney’s best, and Australia’s best known hostel – what can the new property bring to the Melbourne market, that you feel is currently missing?
”We are really excited to help promote Melbourne as a destination; the city has so much going for it in terms of events and work opportunities for young travellers. We spend considerable time internationally promoting Sydney as a destination this will now include Melbourne. We will be working hard to ensure Melbourne is a must see on all young travellers trip to Australia. We want to help create a real backpacker hub around Flinders St Station; similar to when Sydney opened we worked really closely with the YHA to create a new hub around Central Station. In the years that followed lots of backpacker/travel related business opened up in close proximity.”
Without giving away your secrets to success, what would you say is the one thing you must keep the same with your new property and is there anything you would change that perhaps you were unable to in Sydney?
” I think the key is to just do it properly. Our philosophy has always been unless we can build something of real quality and that improves on what we created in Sydney 12 years ago don’t do it at all. We feel with this property we can improve on Sydney.”
lastly, when will you be announcing your next property?
”Ha-ha well 12 years time will be the next one going on current form! No as I said quality properties don’t come around all that often. We would rather have one or two quality properties than multiple average properties that might damage the brand.”