Sunday Herald Sun - Escape

E X TRA EXTRA, (read all about it)

In these challengin­g times hotels aim to please, whatever their guests’ exotic demands, writes Alex McClintock


There’s no doubt it’s a tough time to be a hotelier. Covid-19 has seen vacancy rates soar and internatio­nal guests disappear, forcing hotels to market themselves to staycation­ers and domestic tourists.

But their loss can be your gain. There’s never been a better time to be a demanding guest with oddly specific requiremen­ts. In fact, these days the industry is doing its best to attract travellers just like that. From elaborate room-service demands to work-from-home options, the trend for 2021 is hotels catering to whatever’s on your travel rider.


You’re after a luxe staycation with your beloved, only when you say “beloved” you mean the four-legged, bewhiskere­d baby you adopted during quarantine. Now dozens of hotels are dying to pamper your pooch. Pet-friendly hotels have gone from the rare exception to a major category, and now options are found in every Australian capital city. Increasing­ly, they don’t merely allow pets, but welcome them, with rooms designed to have direct outdoor access, pet-food minibars, dog-friendly common areas and pet-sitters at the ready.

QT Hotel, Gold Coast, Qld

The QT hotel chain has gone petfriendl­y with Pup Yeah!, but the Surfers Paradise branch raises the bar with a puppy spa featuring blueberry facials, mud masks and “pawdicures”. Other highlights include in-room dining designed by chef/head of treats Nic Wood and a luxe dog bed.

Not a ruff night.

Reflection­s Holiday Parks, NSW

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Reflection­s Holiday Parks are calling for an end to pooch pampering and encourage visitors to let dogs be dogs. Your hound can sleep under the stars at 29 (of the 37) parks where they’re permitted. reflection­sholidaypa­


You’d think that after spending a good chunk of 2020 stuck indoors, we’d be over ordering in food. Not so! In fact, we’ve developed quite a taste for it. At least it seems that way. More and more hotels are rolling out high-end room service to cater to even the most finicky gourmand. That’s right, the era of the silver cloche and the club sandwich is over, replaced by fine dining and perhaps even finer drinking.

W Brisbane, Qld

Whether it’s date night, a family affair or you’re flying solo, the kitchen team at W Brisbane has you covered. Lay down a picnic blanket in your room and have a hamper delivered packed with the likes of cheese, charcuteri­e, sweet treats and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.

Eos by SkyCity, Adelaide, SA

Freshness is key at the five-star Eos by SkyCity. If you’re not content to order down to the bar for your evening Martini, the hotel can arrange to have a mixologist with a vintage drinks cart sent up to your room. Want to be even pickier? They’ll craft a cocktail to your specificat­ions, using your choice of ingredient­s. Too distracted by the cocktail-making theatre to unpack? They can send someone up to help with that, too. skycityade­


Have you ever wanted to book out a whole hotel, fill it with all your friends and go crazy? Bit of a weird fantasy, to be honest, but that’s cool. This year is definitely your chance to make it happen! After a disrupted 2020, hotels are bending over backwards to accommodat­e your strange event requests. In fact, several are practicall­y begging you to stage a takeover by offering specials when you book out the whole place, or even just a floor. Whether it’s for a wedding, a post-pandemic party or a staycation with several dozen of your closest friends, the hotel buyout is the boss move of 2021.

Little Albion, Sydney, NSW

The Crystalbro­ok Collection’s Little Albion in Sydney’s Surry Hills has an option to book every one of the hotel’s 35 rooms at once. You get all the standard hotel luxuries, plus access to a private rooftop and a rotating selection of craft gins. They’ll even plate and style your hangover food delivery for you. Now, that’s luxury. crystalbro­okcollecti­

QT Hotel, Melbourne, Vic

QT recently debuted Floor’d, the opportunit­y to invade an entire floor of one of their hotels. In Melbourne, the basic option includes dinner and breakfast in bed. After that, everything is customisab­le (for a cost): their suggestion­s include photo booths, a DJ, private bars and a post-party spa.


There was a time when travelling as a vegetarian was hard. Vegan? Forget about it. Kale was a luxury you only got close to home. But just as plant-based options have taken over supermarke­t aisles and café menus, the travel sector has moved to cater to the fast-growing vegan market. It’s no longer just hippy retreats that serve animalfree menus, but luxury hotels as well.

Ovolo Woolloomoo­loo, Sydney, NSW

At the end of last year the entire

Ovolo group moved to a completely vegetarian footing. At their property on Woolloomoo­loo’s finger wharf they’ve gone a step further: the in-house restaurant, Alibi, has gone vegan, with a menu curated by renowned plant-based chef Matthew Kenney. There’s even a vegan high tea. ovolohotel­

Ten Acre Block, Pan Pacific Perth, WA

Having started as a pop-up last year, the vegan fine-dining offering at Perth’s Pan Pacific Hotel has become a permanent fixture. Serving a five-course menu of locally grown produce, it also has an impressive cocktail menu (with plenty of non-alcoholic options, too).


When you no longer have to be physically present in the office, what’s stopping you from taking a working holiday? Nothing, that’s what. And plenty of hotels around the country are embracing the have-WiFiwill-travel philosophy.

Of course, the amenities needed for remote work are a little different to those required by traditiona­l business travellers. Fast internet is a must, but you don’t really need the conference centre. And you might need something to amuse the kids. Go on, get the Zoom background you’ve always wanted.

NRMA Parks and Resorts

Perfect for a family working vacation, NRMA Parks and Resorts are making a big play for the remote-work market. Weeknight stays are discounted at specific locations, and NRMA members will reap further savings. There’s plenty for the kids to do, including go-kart hire, and even free takeaway coffees so you can stay focused. nrmaparksa­

Little National Hotel, Sydney, NSW

This recently opened 12-storey hotel is right in the heart of the CBD. The rooms are compact (hence the little part), but offer everything the remote worker needs: smart TVs with Chrome connectivi­ty, super-fast free Wi-Fi and high-end hot drinks. There’s also a library that doubles as a co-working space, a gym with its own wellness app and the option to book rooms for the day rather than the night. littlenati­


Let’s be real. Travelling with kids is hard at the best of times. So travelling with kids who have special needs must feel nigh on impossible. But several Australian hotels have realised that different families need different amenities. Which is good, because if anyone needs a holiday, it’s mums and dads.

BIG4 Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park, SA

The owners of this holiday park on the shores of the Murray River have personal experience of what it’s like to have a family member on the autism spectrum. That’s why they designed “Reilly’s Room”, a sensory room with a hammock, tactile experience­s, calming music and heaps of activities designed to revolution­ise the holiday experience for guests with ASD.

Bailey, Cairns

What if you want style, luxury and something for the kids to do? This Crystalbro­ok Collection hotel recognises that a “family resort” doesn’t suit all families. With stunning architectu­re, an art museum and weekend farmers’ markets, there’s more than enough to keep adults interested. But the kids will be sold on their “Bailey Bunch” promotion, which includes a kids’ goodie bag, 200 free movies, a popcorn maker, board games and free entry to the Cairns Zoo Wildlife crystalbro­okcollecti­

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 ??  ?? Opposite: A picnic overlookin­g Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand, a bespoke experience from Hotel St Moritz. From top: NRMA Treasure Island Resort and Holiday Park at Biggera Waters, on the Gold Coast; a QT Hotels guest; Alibi’s vegan high tea at Ovolo, Woolloomoo­loo, NSW.
Opposite: A picnic overlookin­g Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand, a bespoke experience from Hotel St Moritz. From top: NRMA Treasure Island Resort and Holiday Park at Biggera Waters, on the Gold Coast; a QT Hotels guest; Alibi’s vegan high tea at Ovolo, Woolloomoo­loo, NSW.
 ??  ?? Pup Yeah! at QT
Pup Yeah! at QT

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