A brutalist former council building variously nicknamed the champagne cork, the shuttlecock and the wedding cake will become Newcastle’s first five-star hotel.
The roundhouse has become an icon of Newcastle’s CBD skyline since it was opened to house Newcastle City Council in June 1977.
Its sale to Crystalbrook Collection, which boasts Sydney’s uber-cool Little Albion Hotel among its portfolio of premium boutique properties, was confirmed this week for an estimated $15.5 million.
Crystalbrook owner Ghassan Aboud, a Dubai-based billionaire, plans to turn the nine-storey landmark into 135 wedge-shaped rooms topped by a six-metre glass extension with a bar, restaurant and pool.
Aboud said of the building: “I love it. From far it looks small, but when you come quite near you feel that this is a good building, a very nice building.
“And don’t worry: the rooms will be really wonderful. Because some people are like, ‘The rooms will be like a piece of pizza,’ but don’t worry: it will be lovely pizza.”The non-heritage listed roundhouse will be named The Kingsley and primarily targeted at the business market when it opens in late 2020.
A portion of the funds from the sale will go to fitting out the city council’s new administration building on the corner of Stewart Avenue and Hunter Street.
“The structure as you look at it now is not going to change vastly,” Crystalbrook Collection chief executive Mark Davie said.
“It’s a beautiful structure, and we love it, as far as we’re concerned, we can only improve upon it.”
Since turning its attention away from Europe and towards Australian expansion, Crystalbrook has invested $370 million in three five-star hotels about to open in Cairns and a lodge in Queensland’s outback.
Plans for another development at Port Douglas’s Marina Mirage are also in the pipeline.