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Friday 20 May 2022

UKO: Co-living explained

Leading build-to-rent and co-living operator UKO, has reached a milestone of 16 assets in Sydney alone, since its first site opening in Stanmore in 2018.

What is UKO?

Pull up a seat and take a look... 

This video wrap up gives you the very best insight into what UKO is... and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy... I live in a five bedder with my family, but I have always loved the concept of cosy living and tiny houses.


First, the UKO philosophy explained, in their own words:

Modern life is often expensive and lonely. This is especially true in Australia. In fact, five of the world’s top 20 most expensive real estate markets are located in Australia. But when you’re trapped in a cramped studio apartment with nothing but reality television to keep you company, the excessive cost of rent can feel absurd.

We believe that humans are sociable creatures, which is something that modern life doesn’t typically cater for. Loneliness is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in today’s world. It’s estimated that over a third of Australians feel lonely each week, and those who live alone are at an even higher risk of experiencing chronic loneliness.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. After over 20 years of experience in the hospitality and short term accommodation industries, our co-founders Alex Thorpe and Rhys Williams started UKO in 2018 with the mission to fight the loneliness epidemic in Australia. Today, UKO’s dynamic team of real estate professionals, designers, operations experts and hospitality veterans manage over 46 blocks with over 1500 apartments across Australia. Our hosts work hard on providing a modern and enjoyable space for you to call home.

Community living offers a sustainable solution to loneliness and the soulless rental market. Incorporating positive social connections in our day-to-day lives is an important precursor to long-lasting happiness.

Everyone in our team shares UKO’s guiding mission to empower inner-city renters to live a well-balanced life that centres affordable, community-led living. We pride ourselves on delivering an exceptional experience, ensuring that your life is lived the way it’s meant to be.

In just four short years - and during THAT challenging COVID-19 economy - UKO has seen a rapid growth in its management portfolio adding sites in locations including Camperdown, Newtown, West Ryde, Top Ryde, Surry Hills, Kensington and Ultimo. 

“Our number one focus for UKO is around building a thriving community within our sites with our ‘community host’ who is trained to deliver the best possible experience to their customer - the renter!", says co-founder Rhys. 


UKO specialises in property management for rental assets, from 50 to 250 units held in one line by private developers, high net worth owners and institutional property funds.


“We focus on working with developers and landlords who are not operators and we have proven we can enhance returns beyond a typical property manager,“ says Williams. “We draw on 20 years of experience in the serviced apartment sector under the Veriu/Punthill brands. There are some great crossovers between our businesses.”


“A properly trained UKO community host can deliver excellent outcomes for the customer while at the same time offering the landlord the commercial benefits of absolute focus when it comes to revenue management, asset management and financial reporting supported by the UKO brand,” he said.


UKO has an additional pipeline of about 1500 apartments under various stages of development Australia-wide, slated for completion by mid-2024 with an average of one property opening per month. Sites are in major capital cities as well as regional centres, bringing the total management to 2500 units. 


“The growth in the UKO platform has been very pleasing for us and we have achieved this by generating excellent returns and keeping our promise to deliver for our landlords,“ said Williams.  “As we learn more about our business, we are getting very interested in maximising yields between co-living and build-to-rent apartments for our landlords.” 


UKO is  supported by Belong Technology, a property tech app for building communities and property management. Belong Technology allows guests to post their profile and network within their apartment complex helping to reduce loneliness in apartment living. Through the app guests can form fitness groups, kids playgroups and do business networking.


More about the co-founders:

Rhys Williams and business partner Alex Thorpe have been pioneers in the Australian Co-Living & Build to Rent market.  They opened Australia’s first Co-living building located in Stanmore in the Inner West of Sydney in 2018. UKO has grown to become the one of the largest operating platforms for Co-living & BTR in Australia.  Rhys and Alex come from a background in Serviced Apartments & Hotels with Veriu Group which is a national operator and includes the brands Veriu Hotels and Punthill Apartment Hotels. They recently developed and opened Australia’s first 144 unit micro-apartment hotel in Green Square in a joint Venture with ASX listed Charter Hall. 


UKO is part of the Veriu Group, with 19 apartment hotels and expansion plans for an additional 10 properties by 2025 around Australia operating under Veriu Hotels and Punthill Apartment Hotels. 


For further information, visit: https://uko.com.au

Follow them HERE.

And... you can book a free tour HERE.

Contact them here for any additional questions...

And I love a testomonial, this one from Maria Pilar Salvo:

“This community is the best thing that has happened to me
since I arrived in Sydney... The truth is that you can really share with other people from distant parts of the world... My experience has been fantastic.”


Friday 6 May 2022

Pan Pacific Melbourne: REVIEW

Pac Pacific Melbourne is now officially my go to place when in Melbourne.

And with good reason. It's central, welcoming, the beds are super comfy, the staff are next level lovely, and... on floor number four is where I spent my evenings unwinding from the day, before heading out on round two of exploring this cosmopolitan city.

You know when people ask you where you'd like to live if you didn't live in your city?

For me, my Melbourne has my heart. In fact, trip number two this month is imminent.

A pivotal part of any stay, irrespective of what you are doing while you are there, is the place your rest your weary head, and how it recharges you.

Pan Pacific now represents this for me. And I will be forever recommending it to friends who travel to Melbourne. Or, to my friends who live in Victoria and seek a staycation.

Just look at this beauty:

With expansive views across the banks of the Yarra River, in the heart of Melbourne, this luxury hotel houses 396 guest rooms and suites, the easiest parking facilities I have experienced at a hotel (no honking horns on a busy CBD street), an in-hotel bar and restaurant, and a 24-hour fitness centre.

The beds!

Do you judge a hotel by their beds and their pillow menu? Superficial me does!

It's not so shallow when you think about it - how you rest, and how luxe you feel when you start your day as a visitor to another city sets the tone for the rest of the day.

And Pac Pacific Melbourne does that for you. It rests the soul - and your tired feet - and I really believe it's worth the extra dollars when travelling so you leave feeling like, yes... that was a break, and that WAS a departure from my every day.

Just look at this bathroom view... (I take a bath when I stay at any hotel, and this one is quite literally next level...):

In line with the Aussie tourism slogan of 'Holiday Here This Year', Pan Pacific Melbourne started a campaign last year inviting Melbourne locals, regional residents and interstate travellers alike to enjoy a well-earned break in one of the city’s favourite hotels.

I can see why. It's centrally located to the biggest, and best value luxe shopping experience attached to it: DFO is a stroll away, actually adjacent to the hotel.

So, we are talking Furla to Armani to Cotton On to Windsor Smith. On your doorstep, no cabs or walking far to lug bags of luxury shopping. It's the little things that elevate your travel experience, isn't it? 

And... the restaurants! A minute walk away you are surrounded by Melbourne's best: cafes, restaurants, bars, and venues along the South Wharf Promenade, Melbourne casino and the City Centre.

I love to pop in to my eternal Melb fave Thai restaurant Bang Pop, and there are various drinking haunts right next door, so you don't have to go far for a fab feed and drinks. Skip the cab or drive, and have an extra drink, not a worry.

Of course, if you want to go even closer... take the lift to level FOUR inside the hotel!

Here you will find Pacific Club Lounge. Click HERE for more.

It's your private pit stop, with gorgeous views of the city skyline.

It's included in your stay at Pan Pacific Melbourne, and here is what you'll have access to:

  • Pacific Club Lounge is open from Monday to Friday, 6.30am to 9.00pm and Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays, 7:00am to 9:00pm
  • Guests age 12 years old and under are welcome at Pacific Club Lounge before 5.30pm. (Additional charges apply for children between the ages of six to 12 years old. Children below the age of six years old can access the Pacific Club Lounge at no additional charge).
  • Bar services outside of cocktail hour and those not included in club priviledges are chargeable.
  • (*All prices quoted are subject to 10% service charge and 7% government tax).

The large sectioned room gives you the privacy to read the paper and go back and forth on a buffet style brekkie, or enjoy the generous snacks and little plates of delicious morsels like octopus, gnocchi, a cheese board, desserts, and of course drinks. All complimentary, which is a generous part of your stay.

And the food in-house at Pan Pacific Melbourne is incredible, too!

In March 2022, Pan Pacific Melbourne announced the appointment of Deepak Mishra as its new Director of Food & Beverage & Culinary Operations.

David Tonkin, Pan Pacific Hotels Group Cluster General Manager – Melbourne, said of this exciting appointment:

“As Melbourne welcomes back an ever-expanding number of travellers and tourists from both here and abroad, Deepak offers us a wellspring of invaluable – and much needed, experience. He has led culinary teams at some of the industry’s leading hotels right around the world and has a proven track record of delivering innovative and impressive results. He’s the perfect person to redefine and invigorate our food and beverage offering.”

Born on the East coast of India, Deepak trained in classical French cooking, acquiring his professional skills from the Institute of Hotel and Catering Management in India and William Angliss Institute of TAFE/Culinary Academy Melbourne. Moving to Melbourne in the formative stage of his career, Deepak subsequently burnished his skills and culinary repertoire working in some of the world’s most vibrant countries including Singapore, United Arab Emirates and India. 

His new role at Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s flagship Australian property marks something of a return to the fold, having previously worked at both the PARKROYAL Melbourne Airport and Singapore’s PARKROYAL Collection on Pickering, now sporting a CV that has spanned across more than two decades.

Recognised for his innovative approach in presenting a diverse globally influenced cuisine infused with local flavours and ingredients, Deepak’s culinary creations are always passionately backed by his mantra of ‘Passion and Perfection’. His menus continue to push the boundaries while celebrating seasonal, local produce. All of this will stand him in good stead as he oversees the ongoing transformation of Pan Pacific Melbourne’s current food and beverage offering.

When you stay, ensure your daily ritual at Pan Pacific includes visiting Dock 37 Bar & Kitchen, where you'll experience Deepak's culinary skills.

And, just look at this beauty!

See more info HERE.

Described as a "contemporary dining experience at the 2019 Best Restaurant of the Year (Hotel Category), and awarded by the Restaurant and Catering Awards, it's enriched with divine dishes highlighting Australia's fresh local produce awaits you at Dock 37 Bar & Kitchen, one of the best wine bars in Melbourne."

You can explore the magnificent walk-through wine gantry, which is suspended above the bar, housing an exceptional cellar of over 500 wines. Wine buffs, this place is for you.

The bar also serves the perfect settingto enjoy delicious light meals accompanied by signature cocktails, and a large selection of beers and wines.

The menu offering includes a classic cacio e pepe, a cuttlefish ink pasta, a Gippsland Angus steak, a margherita pizza, and a lovely food partnership with local That's Amore cheese and Australian Artisan Salumi, which manifests with menu items including a locally sourced wagyu bresaola from Western Victorian wagyu cattle, and a delicious fiore di burrata.

Next time we're there, we are trying everything on the menu!

Including the tiramisu, and the handmade tartufo.

I love that they also have a 'feed us Nonna' menu! As an Italian Australian, I'd go for this. It's $65 pp and perfect for you and a buddy - some Italian faves included, with pizza and pasta to share and a cheeky dessert, and more.

The opening hours are:

Breakfast – full buffet:
Monday to Friday 6.30am to 10.30am
Saturday to Sunday 6.30am to 11.am

À la carte dinner: authentic Italian cusine 

Monday to Sunday 4pm til late, with a bar snack menu available

In-room dining:
Find out more and view the In Room Dining Menus on this link.

Pan Pacific Melbourne have tapped into our desire to stay local, or at least travel within our fair country, with their tailored Urban Escape package.

It's the ideal couples’ or best friend's getaway, offering up a chance for you and your fun plus one to holiday like true city-siders. Enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine and artisan chocolate on arrival (loved this, my fave part of arriving), plus breakfast for two the following morning in the hotel’s restaurant or café.

Prices start from just $335 per couple, and the package includes:
- Overnight luxury accommodation
- Breakfast for two adults in the hotel’s restaurant or café.
- Complimentary bottle of Chandon Brut NV Sparkling Wine and artisan chocolate from the Ministry of Chocolate on arrival

There is also free WiFi, huge TVs in the main bedroom and living area, and savings on self-parking at DFO Shopping Centre located just next door.

This is applicable for stays from 26 October 2021 right through to 30 December 2022!

For more information or to book, visit this link.

Of course, getaways also lend themselves to school holidays, and I hand on heart LOVE nothing more than a hotel stay and exploring my city or a city interstate with my family, or with just my daughter and I.

Shopping and exploring and being silly and ordering room service are our thing when we have a mini stay - we live for it! I can't tell you how fun and bonding the whole experience can be, and next time we are hopping on a plane and doing it in Melbourne at Pan Pacific (again, DFO shopping next door, no jumping on trams or in cabs, perfect!).

In line with this, Pan Pacific Melbourne have introduced the Ultimate Family Staycation package.

You can choose treat the whole family to an unforgettable overnight stay in a two bedroom bay view suite?

During the day, you can visit South Wharf’s many attractions including Melbourne Aquarium, Eureka Skydeck and the new LUME Melbourne, and know that you'll just be a stroll away when the kids get tired. Heaven!

At night, settle into your suite, unwind and watch a complimentary in-room movie of your choice, while indulging in Connoisseur ice cream and a family-sized bucket of fresh popcorn to share!

Priced from just $585, the package includes:

- Accommodation in a two bedroom bay view suite for 2 adults and 2 children
- Breakfast for 2 adults in the hotel’s restaurant or café. Children under 12 years accompanied by a paying adult dine for free
- Complimentary 1-litre tub of Connoisseur ice cream and family sized bucket of popcorn delivered to your room
- One movie of your choice from the in-house movies on demand system

Free WiFi and complimentary self-car parking at DFO Shopping Centre, too!

This is applicable for stays from 26 October 2021 right through to 30 December 2022!

(All offers are subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply).

For more information or to book, visit this link.

And lastly, more of that view, and the surrounds of Pan Pacific Melbourne:

More about Pan Pacific Hotels Group:

Pan Pacific Hotels Group is a member of Singapore-listed UOL Group Limited, one of Asia’s most established hotel and property companies with an outstanding portfolio of investment and development properties.

Based in Singapore, Pan Pacific Hotels Group owns and/or manages more than 50 hotels, resorts and serviced suites including those under development in 31 cities across Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe.

Voted “Best Regional Hotel Chain” by readers in Asia from 2017 to 2020, Pan Pacific Hotels Group comprises three brands: Pan Pacific, PARKROYAL COLLECTION, and PARKROYAL.

Sincerity is the hallmark of Pan Pacific Hotels Group. The Group is known to its guests, partners, associates and owners for its sincerity in people and the sense of confidence which alleviates the stresses of today’s complex world.

Josie's Juice was kindly provided with a complimentary stay at Pan Pacific Melbourne.