Hospitality giants and lifestyle investors have their eyes on the iconic The Sir George hotel in Jugiong, as the historic pub hits the market.
Built in 1845, the hotel was taken over by mother-daughter duo Liz Prater and Kate Hufton in 2015 and has since become a beloved institution for locals and a must-do for travellers along the Sydney-Melbourne and Canberra-Wagga Wagga routes.
The Sir George is also known for its 165-year-old liquor license, making it the longest singularly held liquor license establishment in Australia.
Today, the business comprises a restaurant and bar, retail store, bakery, accommodation and sprawling gardens that play host to weddings and events.
Reflecting on the past six years, Ms Prater said she and her daughter had created a "real destination getaway" for travellers from all over the country.
"I guess one of the loveliest things is that we've restored this really old building and know that it'll be there for another couple of hundred years, so that's been a very satisfying thing to do," said Ms Prater.
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The decision to sell came after months of deliberation, but ultimately it was time for Ms Prater and Ms Hufton to prioritise family and take a step back from the demands of running a hospitality business.
"[Kate's] had three babies in the five years that we've been going, and she needs to be able to spend more time with them ... even though we both love it," said Ms Prater.
"It's just such an interesting job, you get up every day with plans in mind and things happen, things change, every day is a new experience at the pub, so it will be hard to get up one day and not have that to fill your mind."
The hotel spans more than 8000 square metres and also includes a four-bedroom private residence located around the corner from the hotel on an additional 1000-square-metre block.
CBRE Hotels is leading the sale and is currently inviting expressions of interest on the freehold going concern.
CBRE Hotels director Tom Gibson said the opportunity would appeal to lifestyle investors looking for a tree-change, plus well-known operators.
"It's certainly going to appeal to the lifestyle investor ... people who are in Melbourne and Sydney and dealing with lockdown, they've learned that they can run their businesses from home and [might be] looking at alternative businesses," he said.
"It's a profitable operation, it gets in excess of $5.5 million in revenue [per year] and that is going to appeal to institutional, experienced hospitality owner-operators as well."
On whether there has been interest from major hospitality groups such as Merivale or Solotel, Mr Gibson said, "There's a few big names out there having a look at it."
A number of regional NSW pubs have hit the market in the past 12 months, such as Narooma's The Whale, which was snapped up by Merivale, Gold and Fleece Hotel in Windeyer and several sales in Armidale.
Mr Gibson said COVID had led to a greater appreciation of our own backyard, which was having an impact on regional hotels.
"It's allowed private owners of these pubs and hotels that were once dormant ... to actually spend some good money on their hotels and make them worthy destinations [to the] point where they might justify selling up and doing something different," he said.
"I think with increased demand comes increased performance and that obviously gives opportunities for both buyers and sellers."
Ms Prater said whoever the new owners were, she hoped they would continue building on what she and her daughter had created.
"[The hotel is] just sort of hitting its straps, it's looking great," she said,
"It's just a really amazing meeting place for families and friends. I hope it continues to be that social place that it is, in a lovely atmosphere."
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