With a life established as an Australian in New York, Abhay’s time back in Melbourne initially began with overseeing 1 Hotels’ debut at Seafarers. Inevitably, he found within his work, the perfect development to establish another home base on this side of the globe.
“It’s rare as a purchaser, to have that much insight into a project you’re investing into,” acknowledges Abhay Bakaya, whose hybrid Aussie American accent hints shyly at his origins in Sydney and current station in New York.
The reason behind this unique perspective, and part of his decision to establish a base in Melbourne, is due to his role as senior vice president of development at sustainable hotelier SH Hotels & Resorts — the force behind the world’s pioneering eco-luxury hotel brand, 1 Hotels.
Abhay’s involvement with the hotel’s debut in Australia started in its infancy. Over the course of many site visits and time spent observing the way Melbournians like to live, Abhay found himself drawn to the remarkable spirit of Seafarers and was more than confident in his decision to purchase into the project.
Here, Abhay shares some details on his experience working on 1 Hotel Melbourne, and why he decided to buy into the Seafarers community.
How does a location transform into the next 1 Hotels?
In the first instance, and broadly speaking, our development strategy looks globally for cities that have the right feel to them — places that have an exciting presence and spirit of an emerging global city. Most importantly, these will be locations for people and communities we believe will resonate well with the 1 Hotels brand, share our core values, and seek to be part of our collective.
We move to be ahead of the curve, and why we stand out in Australia and on a macro global level, is because of our focus on sustainability which is so deeply intrinsic to our DNA. From design to operation, we’ve fostered a true lifestyle experience that is at once considered and grounded yet luxurious and energetic.
What can we expect from 1 Hotel Melbourne at Seafarers?
Australia has always been very attractive to us, and I think that’s owed to the beautiful cities, great work culture and overall quality of life here. Looking at Melbourne, we were presented with a truly one-of-a-kind location set amongst beautiful, natural sceneries and riverfront vistas, which we found to perfectly amplify what we do and stand for. The visibility afforded by the location, as well as the accessibility to and out of the city, was another draw for us.
Coming back to the design and product offering, there’s nothing in Melbourne right now that quite compares in terms of sustainability ethos, lifestyle and connectivity. So, it really gives us a canvas to express ourselves. 1 Hotel Melbourne will differentiate significantly from the others in our current and growing global portfolio, and I believe it will offer the local community, Melbournians and visitors-alike something to be part of and proud of.
What are you looking forward to about establishing your Australian base at Seafarers, and for your fellow residents to experience?
The residential piece, 1 Hotel & Homes, obviously adds a different dynamic to the development, and it’s something that is quite unique to the local market here. It’s very important for us that apartment owners share in the experience and feel like they’re part of the story, so we take pride in ensuring the residential component is seamlessly integrated with the hotel, both locally and when abroad.
With my work being primarily based in the US, it has been a massive comfort having a partner like Riverlee which takes that much care in what we do. There’s a lot of natural synergies between both sides, and what has formed the backbone of our partnership is a shared approach to development, attention to detail, and working methodically. So, given how close I’ve been to this project from day one, it will be quite surreal to see the completed Seafarers materialise along the Yarra River banks.