Sky’s the limit as air­port ho­tels be­come a des­ti­na­tion in them­selves


THE so­phis­ti­cated, open-air bar with a pro­ces­sion of de­lec­ta­ble canapes and bot­tom­less flutes of Moet and Chan­don cham­pagne could be in any cos­mopoli­tan ho­tel in the world. The ex­cit­ing view of planes, trains and au­to­mo­biles and the con­vivial group of high-fly­ers and well-sea­soned trav­ellers we are shar­ing it with could be straight out of a Bond film. But we haven’t gath­ered in Paris, New York, Mi­lan, Lon­don or even Syd­ney. This pri­vate rooftop venue is the Sky Lounge of the Ibis Bris­bane Air­port Ho­tel. The planespot­ters among our group are in their el­e­ment as the do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal “the­atre” plays out be­fore our eyes, while oth­ers are con­tent to drink in the twin­kling fairy­lights of the Bris­bane CBD and sub­urbs to as far as More­ton Bay. Down­stairs, the Cribb Island Beach Club – named af­ter the for­mer Bris­bane sub­urb on which the air­port now stands – is bustling with a re­laxed vibe like an in­ner-city restau­rant and bar on a Fri­day night. The dif­fer­ence is that the out­door ter­race is only a four­minute stroll to the do­mes­tic air­port ter­mi­nal. The 3.5-star Ibis Bris­bane Air­port with its 243 guest rooms and 5-star, 132-room Pullman Bris­bane Air­port – in two ad­join­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion tow­ers – opened in Oc­to­ber last year in the air­port precinct, and only 1.6km from Bris­bane In­ter­na­tional Air­port. They join with the al­ready es­tab­lished 4.5-star Novo­tel Bris­bane Air­port, with its 157 guest rooms, rooftop lap pool with panoramic views and stylish Catalina Restau­rant and Bar to make up the Bris­bane Air­port Ho­tels Group. The Pullman’s Room 708 – where we lay our heads for the night – is a Deluxe Ex­ec­u­tive Room with the mon­strous air traffic con­trol tower to the left and the Bris­bane CBD sky­line straight ahead out of our floorto-ceil­ing wall of win­dows. And it is ev­ery bit as com­fort­able and roomy as our only other stays in air­port ho­tels in Bangkok (Novo­tel Su­varn­ab­humi Air­port Ho­tel) and Dubai (Dubai In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal Ho­tel). For decades, the air­port ho­tels con­cept only landed cus­tom of con­ve­nience. They were mostly non­de­script places for busi­ness­peo­ple to crash for the night af­ter a late flight or to get over the jet-lag af­ter a long-haul jour­ney be­fore head­ing to their re­gional des­ti­na­tion. To­day, they have be­come des­ti­na­tions in them­selves for their abil­ity to al­low time-poor sin­gle trav­ellers, cou­ples and fam­i­lies to rest, re­fresh and re­ju­ve­nate, and al­low busi­ness­peo­ple to keep do­ing busi­ness from the com­fort of their rooms. As a re­sult, they can’t af­ford to skimp on the lux­ury, the com­fort, or the “wow fac­tor”. They may boast ther­mal pools and spa treat­ments, games rooms, 24-hour busi­ness cen­tres and hat­ted chefs in their ac­claimed restau­rants. And with Bris­bane’s new $1.4 bil­lion par­al­lel run­way right next door set to open in 2020, ef­fec­tively dou­bling the cur­rent ca­pac­ity, well, the sky’s the limit for the fu­ture.

The mes­meris­ing view of trains, planes and au­to­mo­biles from the Ibis Bris­bane Air­port’s Sky Lounge. Photo: Shirley Sin­clair

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