A dou­ble choc chip

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - SWEET BITE -

This ho­tel chain has a tried and tested recipe that’s sure to win trav­ellers over, writes Lisa Perkovic

THE heat hits you al­most as soon as the plane hits the tar­mac at Dar­win Air­port.

A sweaty wait at the bag­gage carousel and a con­fused taxi ride later, the cool air­con­di­tion­ing of a ho­tel lobby is an oa­sis, dis­turbed only when you’re handed a warm choc chip cookie along with your room card.

Damp tow­els, icy drinks, or­na­men­tal fans – I’ve been handed all th­ese at ho­tel check-in, but never has it been a cookie. That’s be­cause this is my first visit to a Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton ho­tel.

The first three Aus­tralian Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton ho­tels opened in May last year – two in Dar­win and one in Alice Springs. Where many ho­tels might use celebrity chefs, iconic de­sign­ers or the lat­est whizbang tech­nol­ogy to launch their new lo­ca­tions, the Dou­bleTree has the cookie.

This may be the first time the cookie has crossed to our shores, but I have heard of the Dou­bleTree cookie be­fore. In the United States, where the brand be­gan, peo­ple prac­ti­cally sali­vate while reminiscing about their hol­i­days in­volv­ing a Dou­bleTree stay. About 65,000 cook­ies are handed to guests around the world ev­ery day. That’s 25 mil­lion cook­ies a year.

Ash­ley Spencer, vi­cepres­i­dent of Aus­trala­sia Hil­ton World­wide, claims “the cookie tran­scends cul­ture, re­li­gion; what­ever else, wher­ever you go, peo­ple just like a choco­late chip cookie”.

The Dou­bleTree cookie recipe is a closely guarded se­cret, with the dough for all three Aus­tralian ho­tels made at a cen­tral lo­ca­tion and trans­ported to each ho­tel for bak­ing. The cook­ies sit in spe­cial hold­ing ovens be­hind the re­cep­tion counter, so the smell of freshly baked goods re­vives weary trav­ellers.

Ac­cord­ing to Spencer, “it’s a tried and tested recipe. Wher­ever you are in the world, you get the same ex­pe­ri­ence, and that’s ex­tremely im­por­tant.”

That sounds like one com­plex cookie. With an av­er­age of 20 choco­late chips a cookie, my first bite oozes and, de­spite the hot weather, it’s gob­bled up in no time.

A but­tery flavour and those av­er­age 20 choc chips raise the fat con­tent, with 21.84g of fat per 70.88g cookie, al­though cin­na­mon, rolled oats and wal­nuts are a few of the healthier in­gre­di­ents. When it comes to ho­tel hos­pi­tal­ity, the fat con­tent goes out the win­dow. If only the 346.30 calo­ries didn’t count ei­ther . . .

Luck­ily, the Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton Es­planade Ho­tel has a gym and pool so work­ing off the calo­ries is a pos­si­bil­ity, but sti­fling hu­mid­ity isn’t con­ducive to ex­er­cise. In­stead, a ho­tel room with air­con­di­tion­ing calls.

Dar­win’s two Dou­bleTree ho­tels sit side by side – the Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton Dar­win, and the Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton Es­planade were once Hol­i­day Inns but there’s still some con­fu­sion with lo­cals and visi­tors about which ho­tel is which. Both are po­si­tioned on the Es­planade, so the ad­dress won’t help you dif­fer­en­ti­ate. If a taxi driver asks a tourist if they’re in “the pink one”, that doesn’t help too much ei­ther.

This is one of the kinks Ash­ley Spencer says will be ironed out when ren­o­va­tions of both prop­er­ties take place in the wet sea­son. “We are work­ing on some­thing to make it a lit­tle sim­pler. One has a lot dif­fer­ent fa­cil­i­ties to the other but we have to ei­ther ed­u­cate the taxi driv­ers or dif­fer­en­ti­ate them a lit­tle bit more. We’ll fix it.”

De­spite his as­sur­ances, for the time be­ing it’s a slightly fran­tic sit­u­a­tion when you’re en route to the ho­tel scram­bling for a book­ing con­fir­ma­tion to dou­ble check the ad­dress.

The planned ren­o­va­tions, to be com­pleted by the end of April, en­com­pass work on the bath­rooms of the Dou­bleTree Dar­win. There are no con­firmed plans for the Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton Es­planade as yet.

For the time be­ing, the rooms are ser­vice­able but not on par with the “Hil­ton” brand Aus­tralians are fa­mil­iar with. The Dou­bleTree brand is a lower-rated ho­tel chain, of­ten ap­pear­ing in sec­ondary cities, but they will be rais­ing the bar with a few tweaks.

Dar­win is the fastest grow­ing ho­tel mar­ket in Aus­tralia so both ho­tels were al­most full dur­ing the dry sea­son. The num­bers change dur­ing the wet sea­son but, for the time be­ing, ev­ery­one seems con­tent with a ser­vice­able room and a cookie.

It won’t be long be­fore there are more Dou­bleTree ho­tels in Aus­tralia, with an­nounce­ments planned this year.

Soon the Dou­bleTree cookie will be on ev­ery­one’s lips.

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