In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Continuing the wave of hot transactions, the biggest for two years has gone down, with the top-ranked Coolibah Hotel in Merrylands selling for around $40 million.

The very private family-run Vlandis group, led by Peter Vlandis and his son-in-law Michael Samios, operate several western Sydney pubs, including Bankstown’s popular Three Swallows Hotel.

Recognising market opportunity, the family determined to divest its strong performing Coolibah, ranked #113 on the L&G list of NSW venues, to an as-yet unnamed buyer described as a “significant and experienced hotel group” for the biggest price since Dyldam bought the big-format Bull & Bush Hotel in Baulkham Hills.

“It was a perfect time to restructure the greater family business,” Samios told PubTIC.

While unwilling to confirm or deny the asking price, quoted in The Australian at $40 million, nor the incoming owner, Samios confirmed the sale is definitely not part of an exit strategy from the pub game, and that they are always looking at opportunities.

“What I will say is, the family is always looking for hotels that suit our formula. If we find a venue we believe can work in our formula, we will give it a go.

“We intend to be around the industry for a long time yet.”

The reticent family operation chose to sell the pub off-market, engaging Ray White Asia-Pacific director Andrew Jolliffe to approach suitable candidates. In light of continued interest in the Australian pub market by “sophisticated on- and off-shore investors” Jolliffe says he is glad another publican is taking the keys.

“It is most reassuring to all stakeholders in the space when the considered view of vastly experienced hoteliers manifests itself in such a deliberate statement, as has been made regarding the acquisition of this irreplaceable hotel.

“We’ve spoken openly, regularly and confidently in the past about the emergence of the ‘Super A-Grade’ hotel category, and the applicable yields associated with irreplaceable hospitality assets such as the Coolibah Hotel.”

The Coolibah is on a large, square block of 8,500 m² in the heart of well-populated Merrylands West, between Sherwood Road and Coolibah Street, about 10 minutes from the Parramatta CBD. The site may hold development potential similar to that of the Bull & Bush or Hemmes’ Tennyson Hotel in Mascot.