From Bowie to Beavers: the major new projects ringing accom’s ch-ch-changes

Velvet lounges and gold bars will feature in David Bowie-inspired rock star suites at the new Ovolo Brisbane.

The Hong Kong hotel group has announced its latest flagship property will open next month after a $55 million transformation of the former Emporium Hotel in Fortitude Valley.

Ovolo purchased the 103-room hotel for $41 million earlier this year and engaged Woods Bagot to develop a “whimsical oasis for guests, rife with playful and colourful elements, commissioned art pieces, custom wallpapers and eccentric furniture”.

“Our brief to Woods Bagot was that each of our hotels must have their own unique personality and style, inspired by local surrounds, culture, heritage and Ovolo’s playful, forward-thinking spirit, and they’ve delivered exactly that with The Valley,” Ovolo Group chief executive Girish Jhunjhnuwala said.

“There is an element of fantasy, escapism and play in The Valley. We’re positioning it as the perfect contemporary oasis to escape our busy urban lives.”

“Unique and playful” are also the hallmarks of IHG’s voco brand, which is bringing its third Australian hotel to central Melbourne in July 2020.

Part of the 380 Melbourne skyscraper being developed by Brady Group, the 252-room voco Melbourne Central will feature a Sky Lobby check in on level seven with “magnificent views of the city” and an intriguing-sounding local treat on arrival.

Rooms are designed around the ‘me time’ concept, with premium quality beds and showers, innovative lighting and user-friendly technology.

Beyond guest rooms, the Londsdale Street hotel will feature a pool, gym, meeting space, all day dining restaurant and bar, and barista-made coffee for caffeine-loving Melburnians.

IHG is continuing the expansion of its mid-scale Holiday Inn brand in the city with the signing of Holiday Inn & Suites Melbourne Ringwood.

Opening in 2020, the 164-room hotel will offer all day dining and bar, conference and meeting facilities, a gym and a swimming book, along with on-site parking. It sits as part of a mixed-use development that will feature 82 residential units.

In Sydney, one of Australia’s most unique boutique hotels, Little Albion in Surry Hills, will join the hospitality group Crystalbrook Collection Hotels and Resorts from December.

The “shared values” of Little Albion and Crystalbrook were a key driver in the decision to acquire the property, according to the purchasers.

Crystalbrook Collection chief executive Mark Davie said: “Each of our properties has their own unique style and personality, much like siblings.

“Little Albion, with its beautifully chic style and refreshingly unpretentious personality is a natural fit for our collection.”

From a relative newcomer to an old favourite, Sydney’s iconic Sheraton on the Park is undergoing a name change following its multi-million-dollar facelift.

The five-star hotel, which has played host to numerous celebrities including Lady Gaga and George Michael over the past 24 years, is to become Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park.

General manager David Fraser said the hotel’s recent $50 million refurbishment had supported its elevation to Sheraton Grand status.

“We are honoured to receive the coveted designation of Sheraton Grand. It is a wonderful testament to the exceptional level of service provided by our team,” he said.

Finally, entrepreneur Jerry Schwartz has announced an investment in Sydney’s seaplanes which will see an increase in flights out of Rose Bay.

The two current partners of operators Sydney Aviation Holdings, Aaron Shaw and Ken Gaunt, agreed to take on Dr Schwartz as a third partner to provide a boost to seaplane services following completion of new base the Empire Lounge.

Dr Schwartz’s owns two amphibious aircraft will bring Sydney Seaplanes fleet to six; three Amphibious Cessna Caravans, 2 DHC-2 Beavers and 1 Cessna 206, creating Australia’s largest seaplane fleet and enabling expanded services from the Rose Bay terminal.

“Seaplanes have been such a fundamental part of Sydney’s transport heritage, and given how many idyllic locations along the east coast are located on waterfront, there is a natural advantage of growing the network,” said Schwartz, who owns eleven hotels in Sydney and the Hunter Valley.

“There is considerable demand for point to point air services between Sydney and the Hunter, and with six airplanes available, it will mean we can fly larger groups with greater flexibility.”

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