The tourism industry is undergoing its largest and most dynamic era of growth. Reinvention of our cities and regions will cater to the growing expectations of international and domestic visitors.
While previous phases of Australian hotel development have focused on attracting big name international hotel chains, the current one is characterised by a rise of lifestyle and boutique hotels, reflecting changing traveller preferences. Never before have international and domestic visitors been exposed to such diversity of accommodation choice.
Lifestyle hotel brands are synonymous with experiential travel, incorporating stylised design elements which reflect the local destination – whether that be a trendy city laneway, picturesque winery or secluded beachside resort. Sydney has led the way with urban boutique hotels which provide individual and authentic travel experiences, with reimagined industrial buildings being converted into experiential destinations for guests. These include Sydney’s Paramount House Hotel, developed on the former headquarters of Paramount Picture Studios, and the Little Albion, located on the site of a restored former convent.
Visitors to Perth are also seeing the fruits of a decade-long urban development boom which has reinvigorated the city and placed it on the global map – Forbes and the NY Times have ranked Perth 11th in the world’s top 14 destinations for 2019. Perth’s $73.5 million Yagan Square, 60,000-seat Optus Stadium and the $200 million Raine Square redevelopment all received honourable mention in Forbes Travel Guide’s annual list.
For guests seeking the independent and boutique, Perth’s Alex Hotel has been charming visitors to the bohemian village of Northbridge, working on the principle that a hotel should be like a home. The hotel encourages guests into communal spaces such as its Mezzanine Breakfast Bar and Lounge. The hotel also offers a complimentary selection of Dutch-designed bicycles to inspire guests to explore the city surrounds. Nearby, the much-lauded COMO The Treasury, developed on the former site of Perth’s old State Buildings, offers one of the city’s most elegant and stylish stays.
A number of new, luxurious five-star hotels have also revitalised the city in recent months, including the Westin Perth and QT Perth. The site of the old Perth fire station has been transformed into the Westin, which dominates the new Hibernian Place Precinct and leads an invigoration of the city’s East End, while the former Cinecentre in the CBD is now the site of the 18-storey QT Perth. There is also significant anticipation around the openings of the $500 million Ritz-Carlton and $100 million Dorsett Hotel, the former which is set to open in mid-2019.
Unique tourism product can revitalise a region, providing compelling reasons to visit. Game-changing product such as Tasmania’s MONA have literally transformed lesser known regional locations into must-visit locations, helping attract valuable further investment in complementary product and infrastructure.
Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director, Tourism Australia
It’s not only Australia’s capital cities where hotels are boasting authentic designs and offerings which complement the local environment. The Mornington Peninsula’s 5-star Jackalope Hotel has attracted international accolades for its uniqueness in both destination and design. Set on a winery, the hotel offers 45 stylish rooms, a seven-metre infinity pool and spa overlooking the vines, in addition to world-class dining facilities and event spaces.
In addition to hotels, attractions play an important role in creating additional reasons for visitors to disperse beyond Australia’s capital cities. The d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, a five-storey multi-function building set among vines, has helped cement McLaren Vale and South Australia’s reputation as a world-class food and wine destination. The Cube has become a tourist attraction in its own right, providing an experience which excites all the senses via a wine sensory room, virtual fermenter, 360-degree video room and many other tactile experiences.
Most recently, Baillie Lodges has announced its plans to create a luxury wilderness retreat on Tasmania’s southeast coast, scheduled for completion in 2020. These plans will complement the group’s existing offerings of intimate luxury lodges in unique wilderness destinations – Lord Howe Island’s Capella Lodge, Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge and Uluru’s Longitude 131. These boutique properties have been designed to appeal to the discerning global traveller seeking a remarkable experience. In 2019, Baillie Lodges entered into a joint venture with US-based private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, announcing the Silky Oaks Lodge in Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest as the first property to join the group.
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