October 8, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

One of the brands that’s emerged on the accommodation landscape around Australia and New Zealand over the past few years is Nesuto.

micenet recently ran a story about the planned opening of Nesuto Curtin, its new property on campus at Curtin University in Perth. The latest addition to the portfolio is ideally suited to the business events market – especially for small conferences and retreats.

It prompted me to find out more about the company which is quietly inching its way into the hotel and apartment hotel landscape across the country.

I caught up with Mark Ronfeldt, Chief Executive of Daiwa Living Nesuto Holdings, to find out what’s driving the expansion and his optimism about the future.

Ronfeldt says Nesuto, which is owned by Japan’s mega Daiwa Group, is poised for more expansion and he expects its current growth trajectory to continue.

Apart from the planned December 2021 opening of the 60-room Nesuto Curtin, a 211-key property is also planned for Melbourne. It is expected to open in 2023.

The latter is in Melbourne’s Docklands, one of Australia’s largest urban renewal projects, reconnecting central Melbourne with its historic waterfront.

The portfolio also includes properties in Canberra, Chippendale in inner Sydney, Geraldton in Western Australia, Leura Gardens in the Blue Mountains, Parramatta, Pennant Hills, Perth, The Entrance and Woolloomooloo. In New Zealand they are located in Stadium, Newhave and Tetra.

Ronfeldt was appointed by Daiwa in June 2017 when the company stepped into the Australian market by taking a stake in the Waldorf Group. It went from 75 percent to full ownership in just 18 months.

Ronfeldt’s mission was to rebrand Waldorf and reshape the portfolio into a brand experience that captured a touch of its Japanese DNA but reflected the neighbourhood of each location – hence the name change to Nesuto.

“We wanted to create a brand that linked to our Japanese heritage – so Nesuto which means “nest”, was launch in 2019,” he said.

The company now employs 600 people across 15 properties in Australia and New Zealand. And despite COVID-19, Nesuto has held onto its staff except for those lost to natural attrition during the pandemic.

Over the past 18 months, while some of its hotels have been quieter, many have done reasonably well as they’ve been in areas less impacted by lockdowns and restrictions, he says.

Ronfeldt says there is not a cookie cutter approach to the Nesuto hotel or apartment hotel experience or the brand – instead each property is unique.

Built into the accommodation experience is a strong connection to the local neighbourhood. That’s the brand’s point of difference.

“We want to make sure that no matter which property our guests stay in, they are connected to their neighbourhood.”

The Nesuto marketing campaign focuses on their love of local.

“We find the local gems in and around our areas and we let our guests in on the local knowledge.

“We develop ‘Stay and Play’ guides offering the best of what’s available locally. There is a different experience everywhere you go – that’s our USP,” says Ronfeldt.

The roof terrace at Nesuto Chippendale

The company’s growth has been possible because of the level of commitment the owners have to the Australasia region.

Ronfeldt speaks highly of the Japanese owners. Of their investments in Australia, he says the parent company wanted to “grow and create something quite different in this part of the world”.

Daiwa is based in North Sydney and is publicly listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Working for the company has been a great experience says Ronfeldt. The “art of patience” is key to the way they work.

“The parent company has been prepared to be part of the vision for Nesuto and also prepared to invest significantly. They really get it. They are all about continual improvement.”

The Daiwa Group operates in Japan, South Korea, Mexico City, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Ronfeldt is highly credentialled in the accommodation sector experience. He has worked across the hotel industry in Australia and is confident the Nesuto brand will continue to grow. His early days were within Accor and since then he’s also worked with TFE Hotels as Director of Operations. With years of experience looking after a range of brands in dispersed locations, he’s completely in his comfort zone driving the growth of Nesuto.

He’s also hugely connected to the industry peak bodies and has always invested in the greater good of the hotel and accommodation sector through his work on various boards and committees. At present he’s a board member of New South Wales State Advisory Board of Accommodation Australia.

He also values the work done by convention bureaux and what can be achieved through collaboration with them.

Ronfeldt is described by his peers as having a strong corporate drive and operational eye for detail. He’s also known for building strong teams and driving operational excellence. They are excellent attributes for leading the growth of this quiet achiever brand.

In his hands, I suspect the Nesuto “nest” is poised for a period of exciting growth. And that’s got to be good for the business events and tourism sectors as more choices become available in the market for event organisers.