Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud has added the Rydges Sydney Harbour at The Rocks to his Crystalbrook Collection of hotels for about $100 million, securing the dated hotel at about 23 per cent discount to its original asking price.
The 176-room hotel at 55 George Street was put up for sale in October last year by Sydney businessman Chandru Tolani as part of plans to diversify his family’s property interests.
The buyer, Dubai-based Mr Aboud, founder of the Ghassan Aboud Group – a conglomerate with investments in automotive, logistics, media, hospitality, real estate and retail – has extensive hotel interests in Australia.
Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud has added the Rydges to his portfolio. 
The Rydges is the eighth hotel acquired for his five-year-old Crystalbrook Collection platform. It takes its total room count to about 1500 keys and gives the billionaire a sought-after sizeable presence close to the Sydney CBD.
Mr Aboud’s portfolio includes three hotels in Cairns, the Vincent Hotel in Brisbane and boutique hotels in Byron Bay, Newcastle and Surry Hills.
“Major cities will always be important, and moving forward we will look to balance our portfolio between regional and city locations,” Mr Aboud told The Australian Financial Review last year.
Operated by ASX-listed Event Hospitality & Entertainment under its Rydges brand, Mr Aboud’s plans for the hotel are to undertake a major renovation and relaunch it as a Crystalbrook Collection-branded and operated property in a few years time.
Crystalbrook CEO Geoff York said the key attraction of the hotel was its location, which he described as “tremendous”.
He said the hotel, which is “primed for being reimagined”, gave Crystalbrook access to all the key market segments including leisure, corporate and “people in town going to the Sydney Convention Centre”.
“We’ve been looking for a hotel in Sydney for 3-4 years. This one raised its head last year, but back then the pricing was at a different point,” Mr York told the Financial Review.
When it was listed for sale in October last year by Mr Tolani’s New Landmark Hotels, the Sydney businessman had hoped for more than $130 million.
“We did not get a bargain but we got a fair price,” Mr York said.
The hotel occupies a 1825sq m site, and is subject to a long-term ground lease to Place Management NSW.
Its 176 rooms are spread across two buildings, including an eight-storey heritage building and a six-storey 1980s development, which has created an imposing atrium lobby. The hotel also features a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
The sale was negotiated by Colliers’ Gus Moors, Karen Wales and George Hudson and sold for around the $100 million mark.
“We have enjoyed great success with the hotel throughout our ownership period, but feel the time is now right to pass the baton onto a new group, who can re-imagine the future for this special property,” Mr Tolani said.
Mr Tolani still has hospitality interests including ownership of the Rydges Camperdown and the Macquarie Links International Golf Club. In 2020, he sold the Capitol Square Hotel in the Sydney CBD for $26 million and a mostly vacant Parramatta office building for $40 million.
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