A double choc chip
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.