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Sydney and Melbourne will host Australia’s first EVEN hotels, the wellbeing brand developed by UK giant InterContinental Hotels Group offering guests things like yoga classes, exercise programs, nutritionally-designed menus and hotel managers who accompany them on their morning jogs.

International hotel investor Pro-invest will develop up to 15 EVEN hotels in Australia and New Zealand after striking a franchise agreement with IHG.

“We’ll be announcing the first EVEN hotel in the first quarter of next year and it will be in Melbourne or Sydney,” Pro-invest CEO Ron Barrott told The Australian Financial Review.

In May Pro-invest completed a $300 million capital raising from its high net-worth and institutional investor base to fund its project pipeline. Mr Barrott said a portion of these funds would cover the first couple of EVEN Hotels, with a second capital raising planned next year.

‘It’s one of the most exciting brands I have come across in the marketplace and will resonate tremendously well with Australians,” Mr Barrott said.

“We are seeing great growth in lifestyle services in Australia, both in health and wellness and exercise. This growth reflects the importance Australians, as well as those travelling to Australia, place on personal health and wellbeing.”

The hotels will be targeted primarily at business travellers who want to maintain their exercise and healthy-living regime while away from home. 

Apart from offering good gym facilities, a healthy menu and thoughtful design, Mr Barrott said EVEN Hotels would offer guest quirks like being able to get their gym clothes laundered in a few hours, going for a run with the hotel manager or getting gym advice from specially-trained staff.

EVEN hotels were launched 18 months ago in the US, with Australia the first new market for the brand. There are five EVEN hotels operating, including three in New York, with 11 in the pipeline across the US. A room at the EVEN Hotel in Manhattan costs about $350 a night.

With each hotel having about 200 rooms, the EVEN hotel portfolio could add 3000 rooms to Pro-invest’s development pipeline, which comprises 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels and more than 1700 rooms under development, making it one of the country’s largest private hotel developers and operators.

In March this year the first Holiday Inn Express in Macquarie Park, Sydney, opened with new hotels to open in Brisbane and Adelaide next year and another hotel under development on Melbourne’s Southbank.

Mr Barrott said he had a lot of confidence in the Australian hotel market. “We’ve been short of hotel rooms in Australia, especially quality hotel rooms. Tourism’s growing, there’s growth in corporate travel in Australasia and I believe very strongly in the Australian economy,” he said.

“You will always have the hotels catering for the mass-tourism market and guests on organised tours – one type of hotel. But the most successful hotels are the lifestyle hotels.

“Hotels must provide guests what they require and are looking for in life.”

By Larry Schlesinger, Australian Financial Review – December 2016

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