Jerry Schwartz set to buy Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Jerry Schwartz set to buy Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley
Jerry Schwartz set to buy Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Cosmetic surgeon and hotel tycoon, Jerry Schwartz, is reportedly close to buying the troubled Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley for $45 million.

Colliers have confirmed the sale, saying they received 10 validated expressions of interest in the property.

The hotel in Lovedale, the NSW Hunter Valley district town, has been in receivership with Ferrier Hodgson since 2010, with the current listing going up in May. After being listed since 2010, it was taken off the market in October after bids came in below the $50 million expectations.

It is being sold with possible vacant possession but Schwartz has reportedly struck a deal with current operators InterContinental Hotels Group, who run some of Schwartz’s other hotels.

Two hours north of Sydney, the 4.5-star resort first opened in 2006. It comes with 150 hotel rooms, 169 strata-titled two- and three-bedroom villas, an 18-hole golf course, an award-winning restaurant, and gym and conference facilities. The property also comes with 41 hectares of cleared land.

The report of Schwartz’s interest in the property originally came from the Australian Financial Review.

The property was placed into receivership in early 2010 by National Australia Bank. Chinese construction firm Hightrade Constructions Pty Ltd and two associated entities had borrowed tens of millions from NAB to build the hotel but later ran into financial difficulty.

Hightrade were the subject of criticism after failing to pay millions of dollars to sub-contractors on their other Hunter projects and later being involved in a $130 million battle with the Australian Tax Office.

The hotel has reportedly also attracted interest from Chinese buyers who have targeting wineries in the Hunter Valley.

Jerry Shwartz is the son of Hungarian dentist turned property investor turned property magnate, Bela Schwartz. After emigrating to Australia in 1938 he starting buying up properties and building a portfolio. He founded The Schwartz Family Company, and after the death of his wife Eva started consolidating his assets. Jerry controls the company now and has been building the property portfolio extensively.

The company currently owns 10 hotels across Australia and is worth more than $200 million.

Jerry Schwartz has recently made a habit of buying up struggling properties near Sydney.

Most recently he bought the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains from receivers for $26 million – about half what it traded for in 2006. He then undertook a $10 million renovation.

According to sales documents the hotel is forecast to make $26 million in revenue for the 2012 financial year. Before tax and depreciation this is expected to earn the owner $2 million. The expected revenue per available room is $111 RevPAR.

The property has been marketed by Colliers International agents Matthew Meynell and Steam Leung.

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Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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