Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday hours

We will close the office from midday tomorrow until Tuesday, January 7.

If you require any assistance between those times, please e-mail me or leave a voice mail message as I'll be checking in occasionally.

I hope you have a fantastic festive season and look forward to looking after you in 2014.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ashes second test - Adelaide

The second test in The Ashes series got underway yesterday in Adelaide and it was definitely the hardest one yet to help people find accommodation for. Most of the Adelaide hotels were sold out well in advance and those that weren't had three night minimum stays in place or were asking for full payment at time of booking (not ideal for corporates).

Like Brisbane, the two hardest nights for accommodation in Adelaide were the night before the match started (Wed) and the first night of (Thurs). It didn't help things that there was also a Muse concert on Wednesday night.

Thankfully we have a great relationship with a sales manager at one of the hotels in Adelaide that hooked us up with a block of rooms. We also managed to get a handful of rooms from a hotel that we used to do a lot of work with and that helped a great deal. There was still unfortunately a lot of requests we weren't able to help.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ashes 2013

I didn't realise, but looking back to previous posts, have we not had the Ashes played in Australia since 2010, could that be right?

Looking back at my post from that time, things have have worked out much like it did three years ago. The first test started today and its been a very busy week here in Brisbane. The corporate demand hasn't been as strong this year for the hotels but this has definitely been one of the busiest weeks. Again, it wasn't so much the actual nights of the cricket (over the weekend) but the hardest night to get accommodation was Wednesday, the night before it begins, and Thursday the night of the opening day.

The second test is again in Adelaide and they love their prepaid rates and minimum night stay terms & conditions so its a tough challenge to help people book accommodation there. Thankfully we've got a few good contacts in hotels there so they've hooked us up with some good deals which have got us through.

It'll be interesting to see how Perth fares for the third test. It doesn't start until December 13 which is the end of corporate travel season so whether the city fills or not we'll just have to wait and see.

As for the cricket itself, Australia had a top order collapse but the tail is wagging and hopefully they can put up a respectable first innings score and we'll have a competitive match.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Conference wins a positive for the Brisbane hotel market

Its been a very, very quiet year for the Brisbane hotel market, especially compared to what we're used to. So it was nice to see some positive news for the year ahead with this update from Brisbane Marketing (below).
My guess is that the Austmine conference in 2015 will be a big one.

Conferences booming in Brisbane

Brisbane has won the right to host 16 conferences worth more than $30 million in a stunning September quarter for the local business events industry.

The September quarter bid wins led by the Brisbane Marketing Convention Bureau include a number of prestigious medical, education, resources and IT conferences:
  • Joint Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine, Aeromedical Society of Australasia, and Flight Nurses Australia Conference 2014
  • Australian Association for Research in Education – New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2014 Conference
  • WCO IT Conference & Exhibition 2014 (World Customs Organisation)
  • Australia and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting 2015
  • Austmine 2015 International Conference and Exhibition.
Other bid wins led by the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) - done in partnership with Brisbane Marketing – have also contributed to the outstanding September quarter result.

These events will inject more than $30 million into the city’s economy, while bringing 11,500 delegates to Brisbane.

It puts Brisbane on track for a bumper year for conferences in the lead-up to the G20 Leaders Summit in November 2014.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Night at Palazzo Versace

My year of 5 star hotel stays continued with a night at Palazzo Versace on Sunday. I visited the resort shortly after it opened and have made numerous bookings for clients but was yet to actually stay there myself.

One of my friends e-mailed me on Wednesday asking me to make a booking in one of their two bedroom condos for him and his family for the weekend. With some skills and some contacts, I managed to pull some strings and get him a 15% discount from what was being offered on Wotif, which is a sizable discount when you see what the resort charges for their condos.

My friend then invited me to join him on Sunday to catch up and watch the NRL grand final so I jumped at the chance. I got down in the afternoon, had a swim in the plunge pool with his kids and then we ordered some room service, watched the league and had a few drinks.

I was catching up with some friends at Broadbeach the next day so I enjoyed breakfast at the Versace breakfast before leaving the resort.

Here is the view from the patio of the condo overlooking the plunge pool and the Southport Spit:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First-ever Resident Running Concierge

I made a post a couple of month's back about some of the oddest hotel professions and this morning came across this press release about another first in hotel roles ...

Westin Hotels Names Veteran Runner as the Brand’s First-Ever Resident Running Concierge

Christopher Heuisler, Experienced Marathon Runner and Running Coach, Selected from a Pool of More Than 1,000 Highly-Qualified Applicants
It’s the job runners have been training for all their lives and today, Westin Hotels & Resorts announced that Christopher Heuisler, a veteran runner who has competed in 25 marathons in 20 states, was chosen as the winner of its nationwide search for the first-ever RunWESTIN Concierge. Earlier this year Westin launched a search for an experienced, passionate runner to join them on the road and serve as the on-site running expert for Westin VIPs participating in select Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series events. Christopher beat more than 1,000 applicants to the finish line for the dream job after a month-long selection process that vetted final candidates through a series of application reviews and in-person interviews.

“After an extensive search for the ideal candidate, we are thrilled to have Christopher join the Westin team as our first RunWESTIN Concierge,” said Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts. “Not only does he have the marathon experience and impressive credentials we were looking for, but he is also an impassioned individual who will seamlessly connect with our guests and ultimately help them achieve their goals.”

Christopher will make his first official appearance as the RunWESTIN Concierge this weekend at the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. On September 21-22, Westin guests participating in the Montreal Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon will have the first opportunity to take part in the VIP Marathon Package with Christopher as the official on-site running expert. As the RunWESTIN Concierge, Christopher will provide training tips through social channels, lead runners in a pre-race tour of the route and the routine warm-up run, greet runners at the finish line and provide race-recovery instruction and tips in the VIP Recovery Tent. In addition to Montreal, the resident RunWESTIN Concierge will appear at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons in Denver, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

From pre-race training to the finish line, Christopher will act as a personal marathon coach, engaging with runners and sharing expert training and race advice, in addition to leading warm-up runs and offering recovery tips for sore muscles. The Boston-based trainer will be responsible for sharing his in-depth knowledge of marathon running and training to improve performance and build and maintain rapport with Westin guests through social media outlets. In addition to his extensive marathon experience, the happily married father of two was most recently a tier-4 coach at Equinox Fitness Club – an honor bestowed only to 80 out of 1,800 personal trainers nationwide and indicating the highest level of client coaching. Serving as the tier-4 team’s marathon expert, Christopher successfully coached over 20 clients in completing their first marathon.

Apart from his duties as an on-site coach for runners, Christopher will engage with Westin guests via social media, offering nutrition and training tips, setting race goals and providing inspiration for novices and veterans alike. Christopher will be connecting with guests across a variety of social platforms including Facebook, Instagram (@ChrisHeuisler) and Tumblr.

For more information on Westin Hotels & Resorts, please visit, Facebook or follow Westin on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Sebel Pier One - social media

I just came across a really good article about a Sydney hotel (The Sebel Pier One) embracing social networking and teaming up with key people to promote their hotel using new media. I'm not on instagram so haven't really got in to it but this seems like a great move by the hotel. Good thinking!

Australia’s hottest Instagrammer shacks up at The Sebel Pier One Sydney

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

After having spied Australia’s most successful fashion blogger shooting outside The Sebel Pier One Sydney, the hotel has lured Jessica Stein, aka Tuulavintage into blogging, Instagraming and Facebooking to her social network of close to 700,000 followers from the Harbour View Suite at The Sebel Pier One.

Taking advantage of Sydney’s clear blue skies and calm waters, she has posted a handful of pictures from the bath and balcony of the hotel’s new suites and the Instagram image of her toes peeking out from under the doona with the Harbour Bridge just meters away has already amassed over 22,000 likes.

Simon Wanstall, the Operations Manager at The Sebel Pier One Sydney who looks after the hotel’s social media accounts thought having Jessica stay and take photos from the hotel was an idea too good to pass up when he saw she was doing a fashion shoot outside the hotel last month.

“We have a really loyal and active following on The Sebel Pier One’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts and I knew our followers would be keen to see what style of photo Jessica would produce. The photos we’ve seen so far from her have been really beautiful and they manage to capture the essence of the hotel. Jessica was thrilled when we offered her the suite for the night and she has been busy shooting fashion editorials from the suite for various publications. It has been exciting to watch”.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Luxury hotels’ oddest professions

Amusing article I came across this morning about some strange positions in hotels.

Luxury hotels’ oddest professions

From a duckmaster to a tequila butler, there's a professional at hand to satisfy even the most demanding guest. 

Gone are the days when luxury hotels could assume guests would be satisfied with a smile from the receptionist and some insider advice from a long-serving concierge. As major brands battle for business, they’re promoting increasingly niche services and employing staff with highly specialised – or peculiar – skills to set their properties apart and create a loyal customer base.

The most impressive positions seem to be the quirky few that are offered by a miniscule number of properties internationally. At the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, ‘duckmaster’ Anthony Petrina is in charge of what is one of the residence’s main attractions: its flock of ducks. The 25-year-old takes responsibility for the overall care and wellbeing of the five North American mallards and is most visible in his role during the twice-daily March of The Peabody Ducks. At 11am each morning, he accompanies the ducks as they march along a red carpet from their rooftop Royal Duck Palace to the marble fountain in the lobby. John Philip Sousa’s King Cotton March plays as the procession takes place. The procedure is repeated at 5pm, when the ducks return to their palace and retire for the evening. It sounds made up, but it happens.

The hotel has employed a duckmaster of sorts since 1940, but recently created animal-related roles take a more conspicuously ecological approach. At the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in Oman, the hotel's turtle care project employs a dedicated turtle ranger who ensures turtle nests are sheltered from any threats and that guests and local communities are informed of the plight of the species through educational talks and viewings. Similarly, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji employs a full-time resident marine biologist, Johnny Singh, who educates guests about local ecosystems and also undertakes research projects and local outreach programmes to ensure the resort is as environmentally sustainable as possible. At more than 20 Fairmount hotels around the world, meanwhile, beekeepers are employed to maintain apiaries that pollinate local plants and provide local honey for onsite restaurants and bars. It’s a win-win initiative for the chain, with the brand seen to support the local environment and the locally sourced honey also meeting a growing demand from luxury consumers for hyper-local food.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hillview House Byron Bay

As mentioned in my previous post, last weekend was my 40th birthday and we made a long weekend out of it in Byron Bay.

Myself and some close friends stayed at Hillview House which is actually in Ewingsdale, 5km or so inland/up the hill from the centre of Byron. As you can see from the aerial picture below, the house itself was spectacular and perfect for a luxury weekend away to celebrate the milestone.

My room was the one at the top at the back which overlooked the pool, the fields and had views of the lighthouse on the hill. Other than the four-poster bed, the highlight was the outdoor shower on the balcony. This seemed like an odd concept but apparently its a Byron thing. After some initial hesitation, I embraced the idea and showered out there every time except for the last morning when it was a bit cold and windy. Thankfully the house is extremely private! lol


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Great hotel customer service

I came across a great story about hotels going above and beyond when it comes to great customer service.

How One Business Fulfilled a Ridiculous Customer Request

Hotels live and die by customer service. When it's done wrong, you can lose a customer right away. When it's exceptional--truly exceptional--the whole world might hear about it.

Exceptional is a good way to describe the customer service at Woodlands Resort in Texas after a Reddit user recently gave the following special request in their online booking:
Three red M&Ms on the counter. Not packages, just three single M&Ms. One for me, one for my girlfriend, and one to split if we get hungry late at night. And a picture of bacon set on the bed. I love pictures of bacon.

Read the rest of the story:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Office hours - Friday, July 19

The office will be closed from 1pm this Friday, July 19. Its my 40th birthday so we're headed down to Byron Bay to celebrate. Adam will be back first thing on Monday while I'm making it a longer weekend and will return on Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Melbourne accommodation - Liverpool FC vs Melbourne Victory

Its a great week ahead for Australian fans of the EPL with not one but two teams making their way down under. The first match is on Saturday night in Sydney when Manchester United play an A League All-Star team and the second is next Wednesday (July 24) when Liverpool FC fly to Melbourne to take on the Victory.

I thought the Manchester United would be the big game and be harder to find accommodation for but it seems the Liverpool match midweek in Melbourne is providing the challenge. I'm sure its the mix of normal corporate business plus the football fans coming in to town for the game that's made the 24th almost fully booked.

Thankfully we saw availability disappearing a week or so back and have a stash of rooms up our sleeve at some really good rates. Last minute websites only have prices of $500+ but we still have a dozen or so rooms available with rates starting from UNDER $300 on the 24th. As we don't have many rooms left we do have a two night minimum stay over this busy night. E-mail or call us and we'll let you know what we can organise.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sydney accommodation - State of Origin 3

Its now less than a week until the deciding game 3 of the State of Origin series between Queensland and New South Wales and if you still need to book accommodation you've come to the right place.

We normally specialise in CBD accommodation but for the State of Origin 3 we have a handful of rooms still available in Parramatta hotels. There is still availability at Homebush but the rates on offer are over $500. Parramatta is the business hub nearest to the stadium and its essentially fully booked now too but we have a couple of rooms up our sleeve for under $350/night.

So if you don't want to travel from the city to the game, Parramatta is definitely the best option and for under $350 its a lot better than trying to stay at Homebush in my opinion. E-mail or call us and we'll let you know what we can organise.

Go the Maroons!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Scotland trip

Although you can't tell by my lack of accent, I was actually born in Scotland (Edinburgh to be precise) and came to Australia when I was 7. It had been 15 years since I had been back to Scotland so when my mum mentioned she was going this year I jumped at the chance to go with her.

Last time I was there I stayed with my brother and his mates. I was mid-twenties so the time was spent drinking, eating and generally doing very little sight-seeing. The plan this time was to catch up with family, friends and see a lot more of the country (that wouldn't be hard).

I won't bore you with all the details but the places we went were:
Spean Bridge

I also spent 3 days in London visiting friends and managed to get a ticket to the Queen's Tennis Tournament to see my boy Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.

The highlight of the trip, other than the fantastic weather we had, was climbing Stob Choire Claurigh (1177m) with my cousins.

(The view from the top)
(Me with proof I made it to the top)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Late Checkouts

Here's a great story about hotels embracing an opportunity to provide value that seems so simple I'm not sure why it hasn't been done all along.

Hotels Embrace Sunday Sleep-Ins with Late Checkouts

By Nancy Trejos

Hotels are encouraging their guests to sleep in on Sundays.

A growing number of hotels are granting travelers a reprieve from the oppressive 11 a.m. checkout on Sundays, when they have fewer guests checking in to take over their rooms.
Some examples:
  • Westin Hotels & Resorts recently launched the "Make Monday Better" program which allows for a free 3 p.m. checkout on Sunday at all 193 properties.
  • La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, Calif., is offering a Sunday 5 p.m. checkout free of charge throughout the summer. Guests can either stay in their rooms or use any of the resort's 41 pools.
  • Novotel hotels grant Sunday checkouts as late as 5 p.m. for free. On other days, guests can check out at 5 p.m. for $75.
  • The new Hyatt Union Square New York lets guests stay for 24 hours from Thursday to Sunday.
  • The Peninsula Beverly Hills last year introduced "Peninsula Time," a program that lets guests stay at the hotel for longer than 24 hours. Guests can check in and out at any hour of the day or night at no additional charge. Want to check in at 8 a.m. one day and leave at 10 p.m. the next? Not a problem. Just request it beforehand.
  • Radisson Blu offers free checkouts as late as 6 p.m. any day of the week, depending on availability. If there is limited availability, guests can still check out late, but it will cost them 20% to 50% of the room rate.
"We feel it speaks to our type of weekend guests - young adult leisure travelers who want to make the most of their time in New York and maximize the value they see in the hotel they choose," says Chris Holbrook, general manager of Hyatt Union Square. "We feel it is a great value-add that provides guests with the luxury of time."

Hotel managers say the service has been popular among travelers who often gripe about paying for a night, but not getting a full 24 hours. Guests particularly like staying in their rooms longer on Sundays to get over their weekend revelry or wait out the travel rush home.

Hotels set early checkout times to give housekeeping enough time to turn over a large number of rooms for new guests. Sunday is the ideal day to allow guests to linger longer, because more rooms will likely stay empty overnight.

"Since Sunday nights are the lowest occupancy nights for most hotels, offering a late checkout on Sundays does not put pressure on housekeeping to quickly clean the rooms to prepare them for check-ins," says Maryam Wehe, senior vice president at Applied Predictive Technologies, which does hotel consulting.

Javier Rosenberg, chief operating officer for Radisson, estimates that 15% to 20% of guests take advantage of the late checkout.

Experts say it's a way for hotels to distinguish themselves from competitors and attract repeat customers. Many hotel companies, including InterContinental Hotels Group and Starwood, allow late checkouts for their most loyal customers.

"Guests often feel that they have paid for a full night, and a few hours here or there should not matter," Wehe says. "As hotel brands strive to differentiate the guest experience and move away from 'nickel and diming' guests, being flexible about checkout time will leave a good taste with many guests."

But Wehe says hotels run the risk of overburdening their housekeeping staff. They could also lose revenue from business travelers who are willing to pay for an extra night even if they don't intend to stay just so they have a place to work or rest before an evening flight.

Frequent traveler Kimball Cassidy of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., has done late checkouts when she's had evening flights and needed to get work done. She says she will now only stay at hotels that offer late checkouts. "Remember, a hotel is also an office for us (who) travel," she says.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Smoking room

I read this interesting article from one of the industry newsletters I receive.

Smoke Travels to Non-Smoking Hotel Rooms, Study Shows

May 17, 13 | 12:04 am
By Kim Painter

Anyone who has ever walked into a "non-smoking" hotel room and caught the distinct odor of cigarette smoke will not be surprised by the findings of a new study: When a hotel allows smoking in any of its rooms, the smoke gets into all of its rooms, the study suggests.

Nicotine residues and other chemical traces "don't stay in the smoking rooms," says Georg Matt, a psychologist from San Diego State University who led the study, published Monday in the journal Tobacco Control. "They end up in the hallways and in other rooms, including non-smoking rooms."
The study found smoke residue on surfaces and in the air of both smoking and non-smoking rooms in 30 California hotels where smoking was allowed. Levels were highest in the smoking rooms, but levels in non-smoking rooms were much higher than those found at 10 smoke-free hotels.

Volunteers who stayed overnight in the smoking hotels also ended up with sticky nicotine residues on their fingers, whether they stayed in smoking rooms or not. Urine tests found additional evidence of nicotine exposure in those who stayed in smoking rooms, but not those who stayed in the non-smoking rooms.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sydney stay - The Westin

After my trip to Melbourne two weeks ago I was lucky enough to have another ridiculous invite from the same client. He is celebrating 15 years of his business and flew his "inner circle" of close friends and clients to Sydney for the weekend. Again, without going in to all the details the higlights were dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill on Friday night and the Golden Slipper on Saturday.

Our accommodation was at The Westin Sydney which I've booked numerous times for clients but had yet to stay in myself. The Westin Melbourne is one of my favourite hotels so I was looking forward to seeing its Sydney counterpart. The highlights of the stay were breakfast each morning at Mosaic Restaurant and the "rain shower" I had on Sunday morning, such a great way to start the day!

Yes, that's three trips so far this year and three 5 star hotels stayed in.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Travel-related stresses

Here's an interesting article I came across about what people stress over when travelling. I can relate as I struggle with staying healthy and active on the road but usually I'm only away for a night or two so it doesn't really effect my routine too much. There are some good tips below on how not to deviate from the routine too much when you're away from home (and the gym).

Travelers say eating healthy and exercising on the road are more stressful than airport security

Vicky Karantzavelou - 29 March 2013, 11:21

SAN FRANCISCO - A new survey from TripIt, the leading mobile travel organizer from Concur, revealed that eating healthy, exercising on the road, and coming home to a to-do list are more stressful for frequent travelers than airport security.

When asked how stressful certain travel-related activities are, 67 percent of frequent travelers said exercising was either somewhat or very stressful; while 66 percent said eating healthy was stressful. The top five activities identified by the majority of respondents as stressful include:

Travel-related activity
1. Exercising
2. Eating healthy
3. Coming home to things waiting for me
4. Airport security
5. Driving in an unfamiliar city

The majority of travelers did not find checking in to the airport, the flight itself, picking up a rental car, or communicating with partners and/or kids to be stressful.

"As someone who is constantly traveling, eating healthy and keeping up my fitness routine are incredibly important," says Trish Friesen, editor in chief at "My two biggest travel health tips are to make sure there's always a rainbow of color represented on your plate, and in a pinch, never underestimate the amount of exercise that can be done on the carpet of your hotel room."

To help travelers exercise and eat healthy while on the road, TripIt recommends these tips:
  • Carry healthy, portable snacks, like whole almonds or a banana to curb cravings
  • When ordering from a menu, substitute an appetizer or small plate for the entree
  • Opt to walk or take the stairs, instead of the people mover or escalator
  • Aim to increase your steps with an activity tracker or app, and take the scenic route
  • Ask the hotel concierge for a map of local running routes or trails
  • Take advantage of hotels that loan guests workout gear, yoga mats or shoes
  • Use the hotel room to do crunches, push-ups, and chair dips any hour of the day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Melbourne stay - Crown Metropol

It wasn't work but I was lucky enough to be invited through a friend and BMW to a ridiculous trip to Melbourne including a driving experience day at Phillip Island. I won't go in to all the details but the overview is that we had a fabulous dinner at the casino on the Saturday night and then drove down to Phillip Island the next morning trying out four different BMW's on the way and then spent the afternoon racing around the track.

It was an excellent trip and I don't post it to brag, but one of the highlights was staying at Crown Metropol for the night. I've booked a couple of clients at the hotel before but hadn't yet seen it myself. I expected to be sharing a room as part of the group but that wasn't the case and as you can see from the pic below the rooms were spacious.

We were on the road early the next morning but I did have time for a very quick breakfast in their restaurant Mr Hive which is also where we had a couple of drinks in the bar the night before. Even from my quick overnight stay, I'd certainly recommend the hotel as one of the best in the city.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Andy Murray buys luxury hotel

After my post in January about seeing Andy Murray playing at the Brisbane International Tennis tournament, news came out a few weeks back that he is getting in to the hotel business after buying a luxury hotel in his hometown.

Here's the story:

Game, set and match: Andy Murray outbids rivals to land £1.8million hotel in his home town perfectly placed for four fishing lochs and golf at Gleneagles (... but does it have a tennis court?)

By Hannah Ellis-petersen and Steve Robson

British tennis star Andy Murray will be serving up Michelin-starred meals rather than aces - after buying a luxury hotel near his home town for £1.8million.
The 25-year-old is the new owner of Cromlix House Hotel - a Victorian mansion just a few miles from Dunblane, Perthshire, where he grew up.
He intends to renovate the venue - where his brother Jamie got married in 2010 - in time for the Ryder Cup in 2014 which is taking place in nearby Gleneagles.

Read more:

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Former Dutch prison transformed into luxury hotel

Adam sent me this story about a Dutch prison that has been converted in to a luxury hotel. Click on the link below to read the full story and see the fantastic transformation. From an Australian point of view, the inside of the hotel reminds of a cross between the Intercontinental Rialto in Melbourne and the Blue (formerly the W) in Sydney.

The jail where you'd want to be locked up: Notorious prison is transformed into luxury hotel (and guests still sleep in the cells)

By Anthony Bond

It was previously a place from which people desperately wanted to leave.
As one of the Netherlands' most feared prisons for almost 150 years, Het Arresthuis was not a place you would want to stay.
But following its closure and something of a makeover, people are now paying good money to spend a night at the former jail.

The 105 prisoner’s quarters have been converted into 40 spacious rooms, including 24 standard rooms, 12 deluxe rooms, and four suites, all of which feature modern furnishings and chic interior design.

Read more:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Best of the Gold Coast

I stumbled across this article written by a friend of mine with a review of the best hotel options on the Gold Coast. With our focus on capital cities and corporate bookings, we don't do much on the coast anymore ... so if you want to find out the best places to stay and why, check out Tori's tips. 

Best of the Gold Coast

The Oscars are creating serious awards buzz but why should Hollywood have all the fun? Our resident Gold Coast hotels expert Tori gives out top honours for our very own Glitter Strip and helps you find the best digs for your next GC getaway in the process.

Best location

Peppers Broadbeach
Peppers Broadbeach is true luxury in an unbeatable location! If you are after a cosmopolitan or beach escape, it’s all here at your doorstep. Peppers Broadbeach boasts one and two bedroom suites and three bedroom sky homes, making it the ideal location for your next couples break, family holiday or just a getaway with friends. Within walking distance you’ll find luxury day spas, fashion boutiques and uber-sophisticated dining (minus the rat race vibe) all set against a stunning beach backdrop.

Best Pool

Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort & Spa
Hands down, Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort & Spa blitzes the ‘best pool’ category. It’s highly unique saltwater lagoon and beach features hundreds of tropical fish that guests are able to swim and snorkel with (or just feed from the deck). Or you may just want to re-live your teens in a Blue Lagoon moment by the waterfall. They’ve even got a pool bar, a five-star holiday just isn’t complete without a one if you ask me!

To read the rest of the article, click here.

The lagoon at Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sebel Melbourne gone

I was trying to find an e-mail address for the Sebel Melbourne hotel this morning and had trouble finding their current website. They were previously a Mirvac hotel but changed hands when Accor purchased the Mirvac porftolio of hotels. The Mirvac website link no longer worked and when the Accor link failed as well I started to think something was going on.

I then found this article about the hotel closing:

CBD hotel closes doors, converts to apartments

February 20, 2013
Kate Nancarrow
ACCOR'S Sebel Hotel at 398 Collins Street closed its doors on Saturday and in three weeks its 150 apartments will return to the control of 119 individual owners in a reversion-conversion the owners corporation manager has described as ''fast and a first''.

The hotel chain had held a 12-year lease on the apartments and suites within the heritage-listed 1876 former bank building but owners corporation manager Alf Musumeci, of L.R.Reed, said as the lease drew to a close the 119 owners, who had been part of an income-pooling agreement via the hotel's lease, felt they ''weren't getting the returns they'd hoped for'' and decided to regain control of their individual apartments.

Read more:

I've been disappointed by our lack of production in Melbourne post-GFC but when hotels are converting back to residential apartments due to disappointing returns you know the hotel market in that city is soft.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sydney sales trip

Last week I had a quick overnight trip to Sydney to make some sales calls and introduce myself to a few of the travel management companies we look after. It had been way too long since I'd been down to Sydney on business so this was well overdue. I also had a free night at the Sydney Harbour Marriott that I had won last year that needed to be used soon.

I arrived early on Tuesday and knew my room wouldn't be ready but thankfully my package included executive lounge benefits so I camped out in the in the lounge and did some work before my meetings. It was virtually empty at the time so I picked the best spot which was next to the window overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sure, it was a little distracting but a great spot to do some planning.

I was back there after my meetings for the evening drinks & canapes which I was pleased to see finished with dessert canapes! The next morning was breakfast in the lounge so I definitely got my fair share from the club benefits.

Here was the view from my suite:

Brisbane International Tennis

With my fellow Scotsman as the main draw card, I was keen to get along to the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament to see him in action. It would also mark my first ever time at a live tennis event.

I was lucky enough to get a late call-up from a friend of mine for a corporate seat on the Saturday which meant I would get to see both men's semis. I then just had to hope Murray made it through and thankfully he's number 3 in the world for a reason so this was no problem for him.

The day itself was great as it wasn't as hot as it had been earlier that week and our seats were on the side just a couple of rows back from the court. Drinks flowed throughout the day and my invite also included a buffet lunch which was thoroughly enjoyed.

Murray's match was unfortunately over too early as his Japanese opponent had to withdraw due to injury so I only got one set from Andy. It was entertaining while it lasted as the Japanese started well and Murray had to fight back to take the first set before the withdrawal came early in the second.

The afternoon finished with my first experience of Pimm's and lemonade (it wouldn't be the tennis without it) which was the perfect end to a great day. Thanks to my friend Scott and our host's Canon for the invite and their generous hospitality.