Quest ready to turn serviced apartments into quarantine locations
Quest founder and chairman Paul Constantinou. Photo: Eamon Gallagher

Quest ready to turn serviced apartments into quarantine locations

One of the country’s largest serviced-apartment providers has made an unusual proposal as the coronavirus crisis escalates: to turn its many hotels across the country into quarantine lodgings.

On behalf of Quest Apartment Hotels, the Accommodation Association of Australia made a formal offer to the federal government last week to turn up to 80 of its hotels into quarantine or isolation facilities as they require them.

“I think there’s an opportunity there and not just for Quest, but other providers too, to support the Australian government in terms of helping people who are having to self-isolate or quarantine,” Quest chairman and founder Paul Constantinou told The Australian Financial Review.

“The government is going through a trying time and I think it actually helps the hospitals as it takes a lot of pressure off their beds, for people that are serious, and not just for the coronavirus victims, but hospitals do have to help other people as well.”

He said there had been strong interest, but that it was a matter of working out the practicalities.

With occupancy levels across hotels expected to drop below 10 per cent in the coming weeks, Mr Constantinou said shifting its focus from tourists to people needing somewhere to self-isolate or quarantine was good for everyone concerned.

“It’s a tough time for the whole tourism industry … and there’s going to be a number of hotels and properties like ours that are going to need additional business because there are not a lot of people travelling,” he said.

It comes as the Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, on Sunday warned his state government was looking at acquiring hotels for the purpose of quarantining people.

“In addition to that, we are now actively investigating using Rottnest Island for this purpose,” Mr McGowan said.

“The minister responsible for Rottnest is currently working on plans to ensure that we can put in place this measure as soon as we need it.

“These are extreme steps but these are extreme days and we need to all step up and play our part in one of the greatest crisis facing our state in its history.”

Dean Long, chief executive of the Accommodation Association of Australia, said that Quest was so far the only operator to put its hand up, but that other hotel businesses were considering the idea.

“This is not a business as usual request by any stretch of the imagination,” Mr Long said.

“I think what it really demonstrates is that those hotels that have a unique product are able to review their business plan, review their product offering and get it to market quickly.”