Just a short drive north from Brisbane, lies the beautiful sub-tropical Sunshine Coast with all of its natural beauty and charm, and perched on the ocean shores of central Mooloolaba is Seaview Resort – a 12-storey apartment hotel offering visitors 50 spacious and comfortable self-contained apartments with panoramic ocean-facing views.
Guests can walk barefoot in the sand on their way to breakfast at one of Mooloolaba’s many alfresco cafe restaurants and coffee shops or just relax on their balcony overlooking the spectacular ocean…
It was just this picturesque scenario that captured the hearts and minds of resident managers Derek and Gay Ransome two and a half years ago when they chose to buy into management rights, and they couldn’t be happier with their decision.
With more than 30 years’ hospitality experience in Brisbane and the Gold Coast (hotels, catering companies and wedding reception venues), Derek and Gay know all there is to know about the industry but are still entranced by the rapidly evolving accom sector.
“Ten years ago, a friend who is a passive investor in management rights, was extolling the virtues and benefits of management rights and suggesting that I get involved,” says Derek. “At the time however, I mistakenly saw management rights as something for retired couples and I believed we still had a lot more to give to our businesses.”
After a stint in a hotel in Cairns, they started to think about management rights more seriously, researching the market for 18 months and viewing in excess of 20 properties between the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
“The Sunshine Coast has so much to offer,” says Derek, “we saw a lot of upside; signs of development, tons of potential and a great family-friendly destination.”
And while he dislikes the term, Derek says that Seaview Resort ‘ticked all the boxes’ for them – a tall-storey building in a prime location, spectacular views, a high repeat booking business and a responsible and committed body corporate.
“Unbeknown to us there was even an uncanny connection with the property that we were unaware of – the chairman of the body corporate knew of my mother many years before when she was a work associate of his wife.
“I’m the kind of person that needs a challenge,” adds Derek. “I like the idea of being able to improve situations and saw immediate potential with Seaview from a marketing perspective.
“From the outset, we contracted a specialised marketing company and they have opened many doors for us. Depending on the size of the property I would strongly recommend to all new-comers that they consider doing this for the first six months. You have so much else to focus on and effective marketing is the make or break of your business from day one.”
And Seaview Resort is highly marketable. Attracting those on holiday, sporting groups and business visitors to the Sunshine Coast, the property offers a selection of fully self-contained one-, two- and three- bedroom holiday apartments, minutes from the best that Mooloolaba has to offer – a patrolled surf beach, cafes, restaurants, bars and boutique shopping.
The apartments are bright, spacious and well-appointed, featuring fully self-contained kitchen and laundry facilities, open plan living areas and private furnished balconies
overlooking the ocean, topical gardens and tennis court.
In terms of facilities, guests can enjoy the large heated swimming pool, dine alfresco at the undercover barbecue area or chill out on a sun lounge; enjoy a game of tennis on the 20m x 10m compact court, sweat it out in the guest sauna or workout in the outdoor gym located 100m across the road.
And if all the outdoors gets a bit much, one can retire to the games room where there is a coin-operated pool table and a selection of board games, puzzles and books. Every apartment also has free unlimited wifi and guests can BYOD (bring your own devices*) and content including Chrome Casts, gaming devices, AppleTV’s, Foxtel Now, Google Assistant, and so on - connectivity is easy on a secure in-room network. *Smart TVs are available in the majority of the apartments.
Having been built in 1983, I ask whether Derek has been involved in any significant capital projects or renovations.
“There are the odd age-related matters that crop up,” says Derek, “but Seaview has been so well-maintained throughout the years by the body corporate there really isn’t anything of concern. The key is to stay on top of the maintenance schedule and to try to encourage the owners to upgrade their apartments regularly in an effort to keep up with guest expectations.
“Our biggest learning curve was getting to grips with the day-to-day demands of the business and building. When we took over the property there was a maintenance firm contracted to do everything – right down to changing light bulbs. I wanted to know how the building ticked and the only way to do that was to do it myself.
“In addition to really getting to know the property and every resident, we have saved our owners money; you can’t expect owners to keep paying for things if they don’t see an improvement in returns or a reduction in costs (preferably both).
“We have a good relationship with our owners and the body corporate,” says Derek. “The owners are, in effect, our employers and we respect them as such. Irrespective of whether they are investors or occupiers, we treat all of our owners the same. Circumstances change on a dime and an owner occupier property could end up in the rental pool – it just makes sense to have good relationships with all parties.”
When asked what advice he’d give to potential buyers, Derek says: “Just as we did two years ago, we have found that some new entrants think management rights is a retirement gig. You need to have a thorough understanding of what it is and what is going to be expected of you – then roll up your sleeves and work hard. Gay and I pride ourselves on going the extra mile with customer service and we regularly receive positive reviews to us personally –we find that particularly rewarding.”
“I’m not qualified to really comment on how the industry is changing,” adds Derek, “but just from our short experience, management rights is a great business model. If you can keep owners happy with their return on investment and overcome the ever-increasing competitor hurdles with professional marketing, then return customer business won’t be an issue.