Exclusive: Leisure Accommodation Collective to launch hybrid hotel brand

by Ruth Hogan

Leisure Accommodation Collective (LA Co) is gearing up to launch a hybrid hotel brand later this year with the opening of two properties in Australia and New Zealand.

Drifter, a design-led and experience-focused lifestyle brand targeting free-spirited travellers of all ages, will debut in Byron Bay and Christchurch in mid-2024, with two more properties slated to open in 2025.

The launch of Drifter follows the introduction of LA Co’s first property in Melbourne last month, following its takeover of The Village hostel portfolio in 2022.

Led by CEO Luke Moran, who brings 25 years of hotel leadership experience across Mantra Group, Lancemore Hotels and The Langham Group, and supported by former Tourism Australia Chair and former Mantra Group CEO, Bob East, as Chairman, LA Co is gearing up for more openings this year.

“We’ve seen amazing results as we’ve looked to elevate every part of the hostel experience with our portfolio of eight Village properties across Australia,” said LA Co CEO, Luke Moran.

“With Drifter, we have an opportunity to take an even bigger step forward in meeting growing demand within the accommodation sector by creating lifestyle precincts that blur the lines between a traditional hotel and hostel to create truly new and exciting venues for travellers of all walks.”

Founded by Hugh Stephenson, Joshua Hunt and Ryan Sanders, Drifter offers a range of room types including superior private suites and premium shared bunk rooms, with workspaces, meeting rooms, bars and dining areas, wellbeing studios, and a program of social and cultural events for guests.

“In developing the Drifter brand, we wanted to create experience-based precincts to cater to diverse travellers from across the globe,” said Drifter CMO, Josh Hunt.

“Drifters have the vibrancy and energy of a shared accommodation venue combined with the curation of music, art, food, drinks, and culture most often seen in boutique hotel offerings.”

Drifter Byron Bay, located centrally at 1 Lateen Lane, is set to open in May 2024. With interior design by Melbourne’s Anthology Studio, the property will feature 52 rooms offering both private and shared spaces, a communal courtyard oasis with a sundeck, firepit, plunge pools and entertaining areas.

The Christchurch property is housed within one of the city’s heritage buildings at 96 Lichfield St, with design overseen by Auckland-based CTRL Space. Opening in June 2024, Drifter Christchurch will offer 95 rooms (a mix of private and shared accommodation) a 150-seat bar, co-working space, meeting rooms and wellness space, along with a selection of retail and beverage venues.

Two additional properties in Auckland and Wellington are also in development as part of LA Co’s Australia and New Zealand expansion plan.