Fiddich Review Centre
Scotch Whisky

Andrew Thomas on Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay and Brian Whelan on Strathfield Hotel

His father, David “Taffy” Thomas, who is now 89, acquired the leasehold from Tooth & Co in 1975 for $250,000, and then very wisely, with a few business partners, bought the freehold real estate in 1990 for $12 million. He still works one day a week.

As Thomas shows AFR Magazine around, he is full of stories about the Oaks: the young couples who met under the famous tree, the drunken louts who used to climb up it – “people are now more sensible about their drinking,” he says – or the many incidents involving its famous Richie Benaud mannequin at the entrance to the main bar.

“A month ago we had a group of girls run down the road with him under their arm. People also get dressed up in his clothes. It’s been a great thing for social media,” Thomas says. “Someone also stole Steffi the seagull, [a sculpture on the first floor] and took her around Australia, taking photos of all the places she had been.”

Musca is confident of achieving a record price for the Oaks. “Fundamentally, the very best hotels in the premier locations are simply going to enjoy perpetual, unimpeded earnings growth without competition,” he says.

The December issue of AFR Magazine – including the jewellery special – is out on Friday, November 25 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.

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