New focus for Molonglo Group after sale of Hotel Hotel

Emma Macdonald

The Molonglo Group will focus their energies on redeveloping the Dairy Road Foreshore in Fyshwick following the sale of their iconic Hotel Hotel.

Jonathan and Nectar Efkarpidis announced the sale of Hotel Hotel on Wednesday to Hong Kong-based boutique international hotel operators Ovolo.

But the brothers behind the NewActon precinct are promising to create a new creative hub, warehouse precinct and urban village in Canberra – on the eastern side of the lake.

Jonathon and Nectar said Hotel Hotel had been a deeply personal project and a labour of love that was hard to let go of.

But Jonathon said “Our next big project in Canberra is Dairy Road. We’re excited to start work on finding new ways of catalysing ideas and learnings for this project… We’ll be releasing details about this and other projects in the next few weeks,” he said.

“We are excited about being able to focus on our upcoming projects. With them, as with Hotel Hotel, we want to continue to be experimental and explore notions of place and how they can be activated in a civic sense.”

As part of the deal they have kept the rights to the name Hotel Hotel with Ovolo to unveil a new title for the 68-room establishment before their March 1 takeover. While there will be a change in hotel management, all current employees at the hotel and restaurant will be retained.

As owners of the NewActon Precinct and the Nishi building which houses Hotel Hotel, the Molonglo Group will continue to activate the precinct through its cultural program.

Ovolo Hotels operates in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and now Canberra, with two new hotels – including the Emporium Hotel in Brisbane, bought for $40 million earlier this month, and the New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites in Brisbane, bought for $16.5 million last June – signalling rapid expansion for the company.

The financial details of the sale of Hotel Hotel were not disclosed but Nectar said the deal had been arranged by a hotel agent. Molonglo Group were open to selling and Ovolo Hotels were interested in buying. Molonglo Group was open to the idea so that they could be more available to focus on new activities and projects. They thought that Ovolo Hotels, as a smaller boutique, family-run and hands-on operation, were an appropriate choice as custodians.

CEO Girish Jhunjhnuwala, said “Ovolo Hotels has been well received in Australia and we are proud to bring our signature concept to the Australian capital. We believe this venture is the perfect alignment and are delighted to be associated with this property.”

Jonathon said Ovolo’s entry into the Canberra market was a “wonderful endorsement of a maturing city and an affirmation of the great work that we have all undertaken collectively to make Canberra a place of interest, intrigue and opportunity.”

Molonglo Group has outlined a 25-year vision for Dairy Road which will include a mixture of residential, commercial, retail, light industrial, creative and cultural uses. Eventually, the 14.5 hectare site will accommodate commercial and residential developments.

The site already houses a warehouse-style development in which Capital Brewing and industrial designer Red Robot and 42 Lines Letterpress have set up shop.

Feature image: John Gollings


Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author