Travel company is set to launch a series of hybrid hotels and accommodation which offers flexible room options so you can have a more premium experience that’s still [financially] accessible.

Drifter Hospitality Group (DHG) is led by Barrenjoey investment banker Hugh Stephenson, New Zealand tourism entrepreneur Ryan Sanders and marketing creative Josh Hunt.

Sarah Clark, managing director of Intrepid Hotels, told Pro Bono News that Stephenson and Hunt had been working on the idea for Drifter hotels for a couple of years. They brought the idea to Intrepid’s attention and, in a case of perfect timing, the small-tour operator agreed to a wider conversation around branching out into accommodation.

“A lot of our work will be with DHG’s Ryan Sanders who has worked with us for a number of years through his Haka tourism group. He brings the accommodation experience to Drifter and we bring the sustainability experience,” she says.

Clark says that the Drifter hotels will be aimed at the millennial market but go right through to the baby boomers. People, she says, who don’t want a traditional hostel experience but don’t want a stale hotel experience, either.

“The hybrid offering of Drifter is exciting. You can pay for a private suite, which could be $250 a night, or take a room in a shared dorm with ensuite facilities, which might be $50 a night,” she says.

“You can have a more premium experience that’s still [financially] accessible. The hotels will also have a big community focus as well as offer great food and beverage and wellness experiences. We’ll also be looking at how to mix travellers with locals so travellers get a really great local experience.”

Keeping It Local, Keeping It Sustainable

By first launching in Australia and New Zealand, Intrepid is reiterating the importance of the short-haul and domestic market both from a climate perspective as well as the travel industry’s post-COVID recovery.

“Domestic travel will continue to boom for at least the next five-plus years. People will go international but they’ll also take more trips at home,” Clark says.

As a brand Intrepid Travel is synonymous with sustainability, and this new venture is set to be no different.

“Ultimately, we’re B Corp certified so we’d love to get a certification like B Corp across all of our Drifter properties because, for us, that’s really the ultimate way of looking at the supply chain, looking at your people as well as the environmental side of things,” Clark says.

“We want to be carbon neutral, we want to be B Corp certified, we want to have great local furnishings and sustainable ethical products across the board,” she says.

“And that includes our food and beverages. We want to know where our food waste is going and will work with OzHarvest and KiwiHarvest to make sure food waste is being distributed in the right way.”

Clark describes the new venture as exciting and a call to action for those consumers who want to make sure that how they spend their money has a positive impact on the planet.

“People are going to fly, they’re going to stay in hotels and they’re going to move around and they want to consciously choose to do it in the best way that they can. And so that’s what we want to try and implement and introduce to the market,” she says.

“There’s already some great sustainable properties out there but the more that come out, the more that others come on board and, hopefully, make changes to their properties. Buyer behaviour will make others change the way they do things, which has always got to be a win-win.”