Saturday, October 21, 2017

Melbourne’s new ‘golden hotel’ an Australian first

Melbourne’s north west has experienced rapid development over recent years, with its most recent addition being an exciting Australian first. On June 15, the country’s first Hyatt Place hotel opened in Essendon Fields, with guests already raving about its location, service and style.

Check out more articles like this in our quarterly industry magazine, Accom Management Guide.

Positioned between Tullamarine Airport and the city’s widespread business district, the newly opened, eight story hotel is well placed for leisure or business travel. It sits adjacent, but separate, to the Australian Event Centre (TAEC), making it a clear hotel of choice for delegates or guests at local conferences and events, and offers 166 spacious guestrooms, as well as meeting spaces, a coffee and cocktail bar, a free continental breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a 24-hour StayFit gym.

With management boasting raving reviews, Accomnews spent an evening at the hotel to experience all aspects of its service and style. As I walked through the glass revolving doors, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the lobby’s fullness, with numerous guests contentedly lounging and working in the warm and welcoming communal space, just days after opening.

According to Norman Khan, general manager of the Hyatt Place, Essendon Fields, this has been a common sight over recent weeks.

“I’ve been most excited about the response we have received from guests, and I’m excited to bring the Hyatt Place brand into the Australian market. Guest reactions have been very positive, mainly surrounding comfort, location, service and style,” Mr Khan told Accomnews.

The Hyatt Place brand launched in 2006, inspired by the 24/7 lifestyle of multitasking travellers. It aims to combine style with hospitality, featuring spacious guestrooms and inviting communal spaces.

“So far, the Hyatt Place brand has been expanding rapidly in the world. From 2006, we have opened 284 Hyatt Places,” Mr Khan shared.

Having worked for the overarching Hyatt brand for over 10 years in various locations across Australia, the new brand and management opportunity is an exciting step for Mr Khan. He is clearly enthusiastic about the hotel’s well thought out offerings and sleek design.

The Hyatt Place hasn’t spared any detail on its finishing touches. The design is clean and corporate, yet exudes a cosy feel. As a Melbourne resident, I have driven past the hotel at various stages of development on numerous occasions, often remarking about its striking appearance. Located in a development precinct on Melbourne’s bustling Tullamarine Freeway, over 100,000 cars drive past the hotel each day. I can’t help but imagine that many a conversation has been directed towards the exterior’s metallic finishes and the floor to ceiling glass windows that feature in each room. The Hyatt Place recently shared that an eight-year-old guest had excitedly referred to the structure as the “golden hotel”, which I find to be quite an apt description.

Upon entering the modern lobby, I was met with warm tones, wooden finishes and an open fireplace. With 24/7 front desk assistance, there was always a friendly face to be found for any requests I had.

“Location is a standout, but more so for me, it’s the lobby space. It’s cosy, warm, and the colour scheme is very relaxed and non-intimidating. We’ve designed something that caters to everyone, with the best of both comfort and style,” he said.

Check-in was a smooth experience, with a colourful key card granting access to the 24-hour StayFit gym and a spacious fifth floor room. As the mirrored and carpeted lift rose to the fifth floor, I was greeted with textured wallpaper and tasteful sculptural art hanging from a tall feature wall. The long, slightly curved hallways lead to floor-to-ceiling glass windows, providing striking views of the city and freeway lights at one end, and a clear view to Victoria’s stunning Macedon Ranges at the other.

With a free shuttle providing easy access to Melbourne Airport, and Essendon Airport just metres from the hotel, I must confess that I had expected to enter a stock-standard ‘airport hotel’ room, with basic room amenities and a boxy aesthetic. Instead, I entered a roomy space, with a high ceiling and intuitive layout.

“Airport hotels have that ‘airport feel’ which travellers don’t like,” Mr Khan said. He continued to explain that Hyatt Place was designed to be easily accessible to local airports, while offering the comfort of a city hotel. “City hotels are too far, and cost too much with tolls, parking and time. Anyone looking to do business in this area can enjoy a relaxing environment within a state of the art facility.”

Mr Khan revealed that the rooms were designed to suit a range of travellers’ needs. For the business traveller, there is a large workable desk space, fit with a desk lamp and basic Hyatt-branded stationary supplies. A comfortable lounge sits in one corner, facing a large 42-inch flat screen television, making it a perfect place to sit back and relax. The king size bed, made up with crisp white linen, features a Hyatt exclusive mattress which lives up to its reputation for comfort.

“This brand really puts guests in control,” he explained. “The rooms are designed so guests can comfortably work, and all rooms come with a cosy corner sofa that can be turned into a pull-out bed if needed.”

For me, and no doubt others, the small details were what really distinguished the spacious room and adjoining en-suite. The shower featured a rain-shower head, a second detachable head, as well as recess LED lighting and shelving. The bathroom also included a mirror that spanned the length of one wall, and an abundance of Barney Kenet bath products. The bedroom’s brown leather bedhead, together with Bluetooth capable alarm clock and easily accessible power points and USB slots, all demonstrated that the designers were sympathetic to the needs and desires of the modern traveller. The room also featured a number of helpful signs and stickers reading: “Did you forget something? Contact the gallery host for a menu of odds and ends you can buy, borrow, or enjoy for free.”

For those who value a good breakfast to start the morning, a generous gallery kitchen breakfast is available at no extra cost. Hot breakfast items, fresh fruit, steel-cut oatmeal, Greek Chobani yogurts and fresh pastries are available until 10:30am in the open plan lobby, which doubles as a casual dining and lounge area.

While this space is currently the only place for guests to enjoy a drink or meal, an adjoining restaurant, Mr McCracken, is set to open in the near future. The restaurant and bar is expected to feature a modern design, industrial touches, regular live music and a roaring open fireplace. The much-anticipated menu will showcase artisan products from King Island, Flinders Island and Merimbula, flown directly into Essendon Airport on a daily basis.

I asked Mr Khan how he would describe the hotel, and I believe our feelings are well aligned. While the Hyatt Place is uncomplicated and somewhat casual, the joint venture between Fox Group Holdings and Beck Corporation is also reminiscent of a luxurious and expensive hotel.

“If I could explain it in a few words, I would say seamless, simple, straightforward and stylish,” he said.

Leaving the hotel, it occurred to me that the Hyatt Place brand fits well within the Australian landscape, both as a physical structure and a business concept. Fit for a vast variety of travellers, it’s no wonder that the hotel’s biggest challenge to date has been keeping up with demand. “There are simply no other hotels in the area of this calibre,” Mr Khan concluded.

About Lauren Butler

Lauren Butler is a junior journalist here at accomnews. You can reach her at any time with news, opinions and submissions.

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