When it comes to family run hotels, no one is doing it quite like Girish Jhunjhnuwala‘s Ovolo Hotels.
The one time watch company owner traded up his skills for something different when he took a punt on a property back in 2002. The rest they would say is history, with the Ovolo brand making a name for itself across Hong Kong as one of the trendiest upscale hotels available to a new generation of discerning clientele.
Australia is about to get the same treatment with two brand new Ovolo sites now opened in Sydney and one in Melbourne. D’Marge sat down with the hotel’s entrepreneurial founder to find out how the group is bringing cool to the age old tradition of bed & breakfast.
D: What brought Ovolo Hotels to Sydney?
GJ: We wanted to expand outside of Hong Kong. We looked around and found that this country is friendly but most importantly it’s conducive to doing business here. The best part of Sydney is that it’s both leisure and business.
D: What can locals expect? Will Ovolo’s Australian design differ from Hong Kong’s?
GJ: Each property is different and embraces the local community. Here we’re near the water and it offers that decor vibe. We’ll bring in Australian artwork to place all over the hotel. This is good for overseas tourists and tourists from within Australia as a lot of the art is from Sydney.
D: How did you get involved in the hotel business?
GJ: It kind of just happened by chance. I was winding down the family watch business and I stumbled on a property I liked and one thing led to another and I purchased it. I like the hospitality industry and I always wondered how to make it different.
I think about the things I did not like when I stayed in hotels. I found it disheartening that bottles of water were placed on sensors or the mini bar was always expensive. We’re a bit of a disruptor in the hotel industry. We think the lounge is for everyone, not just top paying guests. We have free happy hour from 5-7pm at the Lo Lounge in two of our Sydney locations. All guest rooms get free mini bar and our Continental Breakfast is free. Yesterday I chatted to two guests at the bar. They didn’t know who I was and we just started chatting. We even exchanged cards at the end.
D: Finally, tell us about the types of rooms at the two Ovolo Sydney sites.
GJ: There are sixteen different room types across our two Sydney hotels. At Ovolo 1888 in Darling Harbour we’ve got eight room types including deluxe rooms or suites. Our top suites there are called ‘Shaken’ and ‘Stirred’ – the latter is our penthouse. Over at Ovolo Woolloomooloo we have eight different room types with our penthouses called ACDC and INXS. It will have a nice big bar, huge seating and in the corner there’ll be a hammock with a huge screen.
Ovolo Hotels have launched Mojo Nomad, an initiative offering an all-inclusive live-in co-working space environment designed to give talented entrepreneurs everything needed to realise their business ventures. Head over to Mojo Nomad now to find out how to score your dream pitch of a lifetime alongside mentoring by Girish Jhunjhnuwala himself.