- Friday, 15 July 2011 15:44
Article Read: 1773
Faced with extreme competition from other serviced apartment operators, the management of Best Western The Tudor Box Hill undertook extensive research to see what their guests wanted before building 26 new serviced apartments.
“We wanted something that was quite different to what is in the area,” said manager of nine years Mark Pelosi. “Being in the eastern suburbs 12km from the centre of Melbourne, we wanted to bring a more contemporary city feel to the apartments by bringing that CBD feel to the suburbs.
“Demand for serviced apartments has increased in this area and we faced heavy competition from other operators so we needed to bring out a product that was superior to what else was being offered.”
The Tudor Box Hill operates a 50-room hotel at the site and the 26 new apartments. The service apartments replaced older units that were returned to their owners for permanent rental. The original building was constructed in 1985. Mr Pelosi said the new apartments were bigger than any others in the area and were finished with superior materials.
The project had been in the pipeline for nearly four years during which time management researched what other establishments were doing with colour schemes and layout. They also had the benefit of data collected from their guests over many years of what improvements they would like to see and what they wanted in their rooms.
“All this customer feedback was filtered into the new apartments,” Mr Pelosi said. “This allowed the builder Pellicano Builders to build to the plans of architects Design Consortium without encountering any problems.
“Luckily we started with a vacant block of land and we were not confronted with anything out of the ordinary. The plans were thoroughly checked and we knew what we wanted so Pellicano Builders just ran with it. They dug the hole for the basement car park and erected four storeys on top.
“Our management team oversaw the project.”
Nexus Designs came up with the colour palette while Guest Commercial supplied the furniture and Beard Beds supplied the luxury bedding.
“Working with the clients from the very early stages of the project was terrific, it helped us understand their needs and reasons behind their decisions,” Leisa Singleton, Victorian sales manager for Guest Commercial, said. “There was never any last minute, rushed decisions that can lead to disasters! As we had plenty of time everything ran very smoothly. All ideas were mulled over by both parties and final decisions implemented very well.”
Guest Commercial supplied the outdoor tables and chairs, upholstered furniture (sofas, armchairs and bed heads), dining and desk chairs, casegoods (desks, entertainment units, bedside tables and coffee tables) and all the desk, bedside and standing lamps.
“We did slightly detour from the chairs and sofa designs originally specified, the client wanted to keep the ‘look’ as much as possible so we just tweaked the shapes,” Ms Singleton said. “We put forward alternative ideas for all items and selected the final designs and colours with the client, still in keeping as much as possible with the original brief.”
Ms Singleton said the planning process did take a reasonable amount of time.
“We had to select and re-select a couple of times and as there were a few people involved in the furniture selections all had to agree on the final design,” she said. “We also had prototypes made for client signoff.”
She said it was a very smooth project.
“The clients were terrific to deal with, we dealt with many members of their family all were quite decisive which made our lives easier,” she said. “Both ourselves and the client are happy with the overall look, they are very large apartments with lots of natural light so I think the colours and finishes complement each other very well.”
The 14-month project ran smoothly although Mr Pelosi said he was under the pump managing his 35 staff and the needs of his guests.
“It definitely was busy with a lot of people who needed a lot of things done and I had to get it to them as quickly as possible,” he said. “It was 14-months of go, go, go but now it is up and running, it is taking care of itself.”
With so many mid-market accommodation brands in the Box Hill area, customer satisfaction is vital to building market share.
“We have intense competition here, it is like being in a little CBD with the hotels not far apart,” Mr Pelosi said. “Guests are always going to choose their accommodation based on the quality of both product and service. There is very little tourist trade here and business people are regular because they need to be here for work.
“They are not going to keep staying with you if you don’t give them what they want.
“Our job is to ensure our product up to speed and our service is up to speed.”
And his guests are happy with the $18 million development, which Mr Pelosi says is the mark of the success of the building.
“My best indicator for things like this is always customer satisfaction,” Mr Pelosi said. “If customers are not happy, then we have missed the mark. We have been open since February and everyone who has stayed in there has been extremely happy and that makes me happy.”
The new complex has four three-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom and eight one-bedroom apartments. Each has cable ADSL access where guests can log-on on a fee-for-service basis.
The apartments’ oversized open plan living area contains a fully equipped kitchen, dining table, and lounge area. The bathrooms have a bath and separate shower and a separate laundry has a washer and dryer. There is split system heating and cooling in all bedrooms and living areas, 100cm Phillips LED TV, pocket spring mattress beds, multiple choices in pillows and towels, full size fridge, microwave, oven, private balconies and lockable parking spaces.
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