Gowings Bar and Grill

Erdi Group to bring funky QT hotel to St Kilda

30 October 2019
By Financial Review, Larry Schlesinger

Fresh from a $30 million transformation of its flagship hotel on Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD, the privately owned Erdi Group is looking to bring EVENT's popular QT lifestyle brand to St Kilda.

The proposed new hotel, which will replace the 80-room Rydges St Kilda at 35 Fitzroy Street, could help spark a revival of the struggling retail strip, currently battling high vacancies.


"We're looking at expansion with a QT hotel in St Kilda," Erdi Group chief executive officer Ricky Jeffs told The Australian Financial Review.

"It will have an amazing rooftop bar, it's a very exciting project. We're likely to start construction in mid-2020 with an opening in the first quarter of 2021."

The QT brand debuted in Sydney in the historic Gowings building on George Street in 2012. It was one of the first design-led boutique hotels to open in Australia, spawning new hotels in Melbourne, Perth and Canberra

"We are always actively looking for the right locations to extend the QT footprint," Norman Arundel, EVENT's director of hotel and resort operations, said in a statement.

"We currently manage Rydges St Kilda and have forged a strong relationship with the Erdi Group. We are aware of the interest in converting this property to a QT, and look forward to further discussion with the owners.”



St Kilda revival

Mr Jeffs, whose first job when he moved to Melbourne in 1999 was to manage the Novotel in St Kilda – now the site for Tim Gurner's St Moritz luxury development – said it was sad to see what had become of the beachside suburb.

"It's such a vibrant place. It should be one of the best destinations in Melbourne," he said.

Mr Jeffs said he was confident the Gurner project and other reinvestment happening in the area, including the $15 million makeover of the famed Esplanade Hotel, would help drive a revival of St Kilda.

"We'd also like to do something in the Melbourne CBD," said Mr Jeffs.

"Even with the supply coming into  Melbourne – 7000 rooms over the next four years – having a hotel in the right location is key," he said.

The Erdi Group was founded in the mid-1980s by Hungarian migrant Les Erdi. It owns six hotels with just under 1000 rooms.

Included in the portfolio is the 200-room Grand Mercure at 196 Swanston Street adjacent to Bourke Street Mall, which as the Club One Hotel was the first hotel developed by Mr Erdi and his wife Eva in the 1980s.

Most recently, it underwent a $30 million interior makeover from the Grand Mercure to Accor's more upmarket Pullman brand.

Other hotels in the portfolio include the Novotel Geelong and the 330-room Mercure Welcome Melbourne on Little Bourke Street.

Mr Erdi passed away in 2013 and his wife Eva in 2016. Both were in their nineties.

The Erdi Group is now operated by a board, including Mr Jeffs, with all its profits funnelled into the philanthropic Erdi Foundation, which supports charitable events and organisations in Australia and Israel.

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