From humble beginnings as a hotel porter in Melbourne, to the “go-to” man for corporate apartments in Parramatta. Chris Alexander gives us a candid peek into his past, present and future.

Tell us a little about Chris

Originally from Melbourne, I grew up with two siblings in a typical Melbourne suburban home. Much of my childhood was spent at the tennis courts where I had big dreams brewing of one day playing professionally on the ATP World Tour!

Like many though, as I got older, my priorities changed, and instead, I went to uni to study Business in Hospitality Management. This opened the door to many great experiences and opportunities both here and in Asia. It also led me to meet my incredible wife (whom I met in a lift in Hong Kong). She was later relocated to Sydney with her company where we are still happily living with our two kids (who are growing up fast). Although I don’t play as often as I’d like, I still love my tennis, and every year, we go as a family to the Australian Open.

Did you start in corporate accommodation?

I actually started as a porter at the Sheraton in Melbourne. From there, I worked my way up through room service, bar, front desk and then to management. After leaving the Sheraton, I took on a management role at The Victoria Hotel in Melbourne. For those who don’t know Melbourne well, the hotel is huge! With close to 500 rooms, it wasn’t uncommon for people to get lost there.

In the mid-90s, I shifted across to a flagship YHA property in Melbourne with 300 beds. Serving a different demographic than a typical hotel, I acquired some pretty interesting/fun stories. Though it’s probably best I don’t share them in this forum.

You then moved to Asia for a few years?

Yes, a few years on I jumped out of my comfort zone, and moved to Taipei. There I worked for a company that outsourced loyalty club sales for hotels.

A bit of a side step here, but I experienced my first earthquake in Taipei which was a shock to the system. Well for me anyway. I remember I was at the Sheraton Lai Lai in the lift when the earthquake hit (not the same lift I met my wife in). I’m not sure what category it was… I can only describe it as “category full-on”. The lift amazingly opened after and I returned to the office, stunned, only to find all the staff laughing at me as it was just a normal day in the office for them.

In 2003, I was based in Hong Kong. This was the time of the SARS outbreak. Not many people in Australia have experienced what we went through with COVID-19 before, but due to SARS, I had.

What has been your champagne moment running Astra Apartments Parramatta?

One thing that sets us apart from our competitors, is the ability to scale up our corporate apartments in Parramatta quickly if our clients have demand for multiple apartments or groups. Due to a large booking, I had 25 new apartments up and running in less than 3 months.

Now this may not sound like a big task, but when you are securing the apartments, sourcing the furniture, and managing all the logistics to meet the deadline of your arriving corporates, it’s huge. I must say, the staff at the furniture store came to know me well. As soon as I walked in, it was the race to serve me. I must have helped quite a few of them to beat their sales quotas. As I finished the last set-up, I felt that wave of accomplishment. A cause for celebration indeed.

What’s next for Astra Apartments Parramatta?

With so much activity in the area, I’ll be increasing my corporate apartment portfolio further to meet the demand for long stays. I also have plans to expand to a new precinct. Watch this space!

Chris Alexander is the owner and Managing Director of Astra Apartments Parramatta – providing long-stay, corporate accommodation in the area. You can view his portfolio of apartment types and locations here.

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