Following the launch of the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) late last year, international and domestic interest in Sydney is strong.
New hotels are on their way up to meet the city’s demand, while existing hotels are revamping their spaces and even adding more rooms.
Leading the charge in what is said to be Australia’s hotel “room boom”, Sydney has almost 9000 accommodation rooms in the pipeline across the next five years, about a quarter of which are already under construction.
In prime position directly opposite the ICC Sydney, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is set to open its doors on November 1 this year. The hotel will feature 590 guest rooms, nine meeting spaces and a ballroom with capacity for up to 450 guests.
It’s an exciting development for the city, says general manager Greg Brady.
“The hotel has a beautiful design, 75 per cent of the rooms have views of Darling Harbour, and we’re seconds away from the ICC. So the fact that we’re there with that sort of inventory is going to support Sydney in bringing major events to the city,” he says.
“We also have a boardroom on our Club Millesime level, which is on level 35, that has sweeping views over Darling Harbour and out west to Blackwattle Bay and beyond. That in itself will be Sydney’s best luxury boardroom with a view.”
Brady says developments such as Barangaroo are enhancing Sydney’s identity as a destination for business and leisure travel.
“I think the landscape is changing dramatically and it’s going to assist in tourism growth for Sydney and as a result of that we’re going to win back a lot more incentive business,” he says.
Late last year, Sydney saw the return of the Hyatt Regency brand to the city, with the opening of the Hyatt Regency Sydney. The former Four Points by Sheraton hotel underwent a $250 million transformation and now boasts 892 rooms and almost 3500sqm of event and conference space, making it Australia’s largest hotel.
General manager Malcolm Zancanaro says the expanded hotel now allows organisers to stage conferences and events in Sydney that were never possible before.
“We can now host, in a single hotel, some very large events which in the past would have been split amongst a number of different hotels in the city,” he says.
“From an organiser’s point of view, being able to house everybody under one roof is certainly very exciting.
“We have over 20 different meeting rooms and two ballrooms, so we can host a diverse range of events for up to 1000 people, while we can also cater to a boardroom of 10 people.”
Zancanaro says Sydney is “well-placed globally to attract events”.
“The ICC’s opening certainly attracts more international business to the city and there’s definitely opportunities for meetings as part of those larger events to be held in the hotel,” he says.
“The feedback on the transformation has been amazing, it’s certainly a busy year ahead and we’re already discussing a lot of events for 2018 and beyond.”
TFE Hotels is also playing its part in the hotel boom, with plans to open Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour in 2019, with 145 rooms and suites and a rooftop bar. Vibe North Sydney is slated to reopen this year in a new location, while the Vibe Hotel Sydney, located on Goulburn Street, will unveil a new look later this year.
Hotels outside the CBD are shaping up too, such as PARKROYAL Parramatta that has enjoyed significant growth in occupancy and business events since its recent redevelopment.
Following a $25 million extension, the hotel now features 286 rooms and a brand new Club offering, which provides guests with access to the Club Lounge, priority check-in, late check-out, complimentary breakfast, and drinks and canapés in the evening.
PARKROYAL Parramatta director of sales Cameron Westman says the hotel fills a need for conference organisers whose clients want to experience
the high standards of city accommodation but not at the current “exorbitant prices” of Sydney CBD hotels.
“Following the redevelopment, our hotel is very much an upscale, city-style hotel that you would experience in the CBD,” he says.
“Business and leisure travellers that would usually enjoy a club-style hotel in the city and then travel west, it’s allowed them to actually locate themselves here, where they need to be and where they’re doing their business.”
The hotel also added five new meeting rooms to offer a total of 13 meeting and event spaces, becoming the largest conference venue hotel in Western Sydney. Westman says the demand for these conference spaces is very high.
“We are getting a lot of enquiries and people are choosing to stay here and have their conference here rather than at the higher-priced city properties,” he says.
“As Parramatta continues to experience exponential growth in business and leisure travel, it is important to recognise the need for spaces that cater to the growing market.”
Also in the pipeline in Parramatta is a 271-room Four Points by Sheraton hotel, which is scheduled to open in 2018.
Western Sydney is also on the radar for QT Hotels & Resorts, which will open its third New South Wales hotel in Parramatta. Part of the 8 Phillip Street development, the luxury hotel will encompass 14 levels of the 54 storey building, slated to open in 2020.
Back in Sydney CBD, the hotel announcements keep coming in. InterContinental Hotels Group is set to open Holiday Inn Sydney Central by 2020, complete with 305 rooms and a 120-seat meeting space, located on Pitt Street. IHG also revealed the InterContinental Sydney will undergo a $200 million transformation across its 509 guest rooms, conference and event spaces, restaurants and all guest areas.
InterContinental Sydney general manager Jörg Böckeler says he has always been proud to call the property “the most iconic hotel in Sydney”.
“We have a rich history with the façade and heritage of the 1851 Treasury Building, and this remains at the heart of our planning,” he says.
“Our aligned vision with Mulpha Australia is to create a landmark, and world-class hotel experience for guests and visitors; offering the height of facilities, innovative technology, world-class dining and conferencing experiences.
InterContinental Sydney of the future will continue to play a leading role in Australian hospitality.”
The development also includes plans for a 900sqm grand ballroom with capacity for more than 800 delegates, proposed for level 10 of the hotel.
“With the height, design and hotel’s location, this would see the ballroom overlooking panoramic views of Sydney Harbour – from the Bridge to the Opera House – which will be an incredibly unique selling proposition and experience for Sydney delegates,” says Böckeler.
He says the plethora of developments across the city has put Sydney “back on the meetings, events and incentive map”.
“The ICC was certainly a significant opening and has helped the city to attract larger conferences and events. This of course generates more room nights into the city, tourism spend and ultimately greater exposure on the unique offerings of Sydney as an events capital.”