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Meet our Expert Karen Wales

Q: How long have you been in the real estate industry and how did you come to join Colliers?

I have worked in the hotel and real estate industry for 20 years in a variety of roles. I joined the Colliers Hotel transactions team five years ago after working for the Australian Government in a foreign investment attraction role.  

Q: How do you think you use your expertise to add value to clients?  

I have worked as a researcher, analyst, consultant and broker – all of which I still do. I draw on this broad experience to provide proactive advice to clients and to help them navigate the hotel market and asset cycles. 

Q: What is the most fulfilling thing about your role?

I really enjoy the connection with clients, and the opportunity to deep dive into a business or vision which can be very rewarding.  

Q: Can you think of a transaction or project that you’re particularly proud of? What did you do to ensure its success?  
The sale of Gaia Retreat and Spa for the learnings and the most enjoyable week of inspections! The wellness retreat's ‘all-inclusive’ business model focusses on the total spend (not just the accommodation component), which leads to a higher guest yield and more repeat business. Understanding the nuances of this segment was critical to maximising the sale price, particularly when engaging with more traditional hotel investors.    

Q: What do you think the opportunity is for your clients' real estate strategies in the current environment?
We have had cycles before but none of them compared to this one. Covid-19 pressed pause on the booming global hotel and travel segment but accelerated other emerging trends such as flexibility, wellness and sustainability. This will all impact the Australian hotel investment market as the recovery takes hold. There is a weight of global capital looking for the right transactions. Assets in Sydney are traditionally very tightly held, and investors will seize rare opportunities which arise to get a foothold in the city’s hotel investment market. 

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Karen Wales

National Director, Asia Pacific | Hotels Transaction Services


Karen has over twenty years of experience in the hotel industry and holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the Australian Graduate School of Management. She brings with her a specialised knowledge of the Asia Pacific hotel investment market and an ability to drive fresh capital into Australia’s hotel markets. She has developed an exceptional network over the past two years across Asia and the Middle East and within government, in her capacity as Senior Investment Specialist Tourism Infrastructure at Austrade and her knowledge of new entrants into the growing Australian tourism sector is second to none.      

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