Salter Brothers adds Bowral beauty to country lodge portfolio

Salter Brothers managing director Paul Salter told AFR Weekend the fund manager would spend a “relatively significant sum of money” to bring Milton Park “back to life”.

“It’s well known for weddings and has a great standalone spa. We want to improve the F&B offering as well as the accommodation and public areas,” Mr Salter said.

Viewers of the hit reality show Married at First Sight may remember the hotel as the location for couples’ wedding vows in the 2021 series.

Mr Salter said there was great demand for country lodges and luxury rural retreats like Milton Park, a market that was “given a kick” during the pandemic as people jumped into their cars for short breaks within a couple of hours of home.

Milton Park Country House is a mix of styles including Art Nouveau and European influences. 

After settlement of Milton Park and the Spicers portfolio, Salter Brothers will own and operate 31 hotels with almost 5000 rooms. Other hotels in their portfolio include the Intercontinental Rialto in Melbourne, Voco Gold Coast and Hyatt Regency in Brisbane.

Mr Salter said the hotel portfolio was performing well.

“We were really pleased with second half of last year, when we traded very strongly. This year our earnings will be well and truly equal if not in front of how we traded pre-COVID,” he said.

Mr Salter said the fund manager was keen on acquiring other country lodges like Milton Park, but they were not easy to come by. MinterEllison and Napier & Blakely advised Salter Brothers on the acquisition of Milton Park, which was negotiated off-market.

Chateau Yering dates back to 1854. 

“We’re looking for unrepeatable assets in high-quality locations. If they become available [we’re interested],” he said.

Other fund managers are also investing in boutique hotels in locations within a few hours’ drive of Sydney and Melbourne.

In December, ASX-listed Elanor, through its hotel accommodation fund, bought 1854-built Chateau Yering in the Yarra Valley and the Wildes Boutique Hotel in Kangaroo Valley after raising $25 million.

Elanor Investors’ head of hotels, Marianne Ossovani, said the fund manager saw immense potential in Chateau Yering.

“We plan to elevate the experience for future guests in order to deliver a unique luxury experience in one of the world’s best wine regions,” she said.

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