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.
+ STAYCAY WITH YOUR PET
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. qthotels.com
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. reflectionsholidayparks.com.au
+ CATERED TO IN YOUR QUARTERS
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. marriott.com
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. skycityadelaide.com.au
+ THE TOTAL TAKEOVER
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. crystalbrookcollection.com
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. qthotels.com
+ PLANT-BASED PACKAGES
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. ovolohotels.com
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). panpacific.com
+DESK FROM ANYWHERE
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. nrmaparksandresorts.com.au
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. littlenationalhotel.com.au
+ ALL KIDS WELCOME
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. big4.com.au
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 crystalbrookcollection.com
Discover 10 of the best Australian tours at escape.com.au/bespoke