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Stay for good: Intrepid Travel expands into hotels with launch of Drifter

Keen for a sustainable stay? Intrepid Travel has today announced ambitious plans to diversify into hotels through a joint venture with Drifter Hospitality Group, and with doors opening in 2022.

Keen for a sustainable stay? Intrepid Travel has today announced ambitious plans to diversify into hotels through a joint venture with Drifter Hospitality Group, and with doors opening in 2022.

In what it says is a clear signal of intent in the accommodation sector, Intrepid Travel has created a new hotels division led by former Managing Director APAC Sarah Clark.

The group’s first new sustainable owner-operated premium hybrid hotels will open in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in 2022 and be positioned ‘Drifter – an Intrepid Hotel’ with plans to secure an East Coast Australia property in 2022.

Initially, there will be eight hotels across Australia and New Zealand in the next three years, growing to 15 properties by 2025.

The group then plans to take the concept globally, with targeted assets combining repositioned hotels, hostels, re-purposed commercial sites and new builds.

What is a Hybrid Hotel?

Drifter, an Intrepid Hotel, Christchurch

Hybrid hotels offer flexible room options (including private suites and shared rooms) in popular city neighbourhoods with exciting communal areas and unique cultural and dining offerings.

The concept is popular with millennials, who increasingly seek experiential accommodation. Research in 2019 by commercial real estate company CBRE found that millennials are likely to spend more on hotels than Baby Boomers or Gen X. They seek transformational and shareable experiences, such as the ones offered by the hybrid hotel concept.

“We’ve long recognised the potential to bring our knowledge of sustainable experience-rich travel and the international tourism market – particularly solo and millennial travellers – to the hotel sector,” said Intrepid Travel CEO James Thornton. “With Drifter, we’ll create truly unique hotels that travellers will love, and the opportunity to grow across the region is profound,” he adds.  

“I’m thrilled that we’re partnering with Intrepid Travel, with their decades of experience in international tourism and their global leadership in sustainable travel, along with their operational expertise and brand strength,” added Ryan Sanders, Drifter CEO.

Sarah Clark - Intrepid
Sarah Clark, Managing Director Hotels, Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel’s newly appointed Managing Director Hotels, Sarah Clark, said the hybrid hotel concept would offer local and international guests a new type of experiential hotel stay.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be expanding into the accommodation vertical, with Drifter being our first launch partnership,” said Clark.

“We’ll offer high-quality, unique accommodation and sustainable experiences in the heart of buzzing urban CBDs and neighbourhoods. With travel reopening, people looking to reconnect, and the opportunity presented with city real estate, it’s the perfect moment to embark on this expansion phase,” she added. 

As a part of the move, Brett Mitchell, Intrepid’s Chief Sales Officer, has stepped in to oversee the APAC region under his global role to replace Clark.

Drifter, an Intrepid Hotel, Christchurch

Intrepid Travel says it will bring its expertise in decarbonisation to ensure the highest sustainability standards across the hotel group. The properties will be carbon neutral, and sustainable practices will be implemented across design, services, amenities, utilities and broader operational practices. 

Intrepid Travel is a 50/50 joint venture partner with Drifter and the cornerstone investor in the fund, which launches publicly this week.

Pre-pandemic, Intrepid Travel carried 470,000 customers in 2019, booking more than one million hotel nights a year, and this marks the company’s first move into the accommodation market.