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Traders Hotels is looking to gain some traction in the highly lucrative AustralAsia tourism market with their first property in Brisbane inside a former Holiday Inn. The official handover was completed earlier this month but aside from a new name slapped on the outside, the property has gotten a complete brand overhaul.
If you're not familiar, the Traders brand is an offshoot of the high-end luxury brand, Shangri-La Hotels. Traders hotels offer a mid-market price point yet caters more to the savvy business traveler who likes a little design with their hotel stay. We not talking uber-luxury, but an affordable option with great customer service and quality on-property amenities.
Usually, when a 25th birthday is in order, there is no talk about a make-over or a face-lift. At least, we hope not. But when it came to celebrating their 25th anniversary, The Hilton in Brisbane has gone all out to spruce themselves up.
Overall, the property is in a great location and has seen heaps of people come and go. Including the Aussie celeb set, socialites and locals alike. With all of these visitors, the hotel started to look a little run-down and was in need of a major modernization. And that's just what Hilton did to the tune of $37 million.
Ah, a day at the races. The sun shines, the air is heavy of horse stable and gambling luck, and you are smack dab in the middle of well-healed spectators carrying on with dreams of winning big. When the day is perfect, but the main event comes to a close, how do you continue the fun? A fancy schmancy trip to a hotel lobby bar.
Our day of randomly picking winning and losing thoroughbreds brought us to Brisbane's top boutique hotel, The Emporium. Located in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley area, the Emporium is a modest sized complex with high-end fashion, fine dining, and eponymous hotel, aptly named, The Emporium.
With peekaboo tubs and larger-than-life LCD screens popping up in hotels all over the world, it can take something pretty extraordinary to get our attention when scoping out a room. Or even something extremely humble. Like this nifty little washer-dryer combo that we spied tucked away in a Deluxe Corner Suite at the Emporium Hotel in Brisbane last week.
Doing the washing may be incredibly mundane, but sometimes on the road it is entirely necessary. And should we really have to spend twenty bucks or more to send our laundry off in one of those branded canvas hotel bags hanging in the closet? (Confession: When the laundry bags are plastic, we swipe them to use for packing our... dirty laundry.)
After an afternoon in "The Valley"--Fortitude Valley in Brisbane--we were feeling a bit thirsty, so we headed to the top of local hotspot, The Limes Hotel. There, we were greeted by some friendly Aussie bartenders and this song lyric by Moby.
We had forgotten how much Aussies like Moby and his likeminded chill-out tune pals, but after sipping on a kiwi fruit cocktail here, we were taken back to sun-splashed lazy afternoons spent inside a 'schooner' (a glass of beer). Drinking is a national pasttime in Australia, and with gorgeous nighttime views of Brissy, this is a great spot to do it.
You may have noticed that we're quite fond of Hotel High Tea here at HotelChatter, having sampled little sandwiches and cups of tea at the finest properties in cities such as London and New York. But this week we discovered that the historic art of tea-taking is also a hot trend in the rather modern city of Brisbane, Australia, courtesy of the Emporium Hotel.
The three-year old boutique hotel in the funky Fortitude Valley area of Brissy has a hit on its hands with its new Cocktail Bar High Tea Menu, with local ladies of all ages flocking in with pinkies raised to enjoy a cuppa and a good ol' gossip around a cake tray.
While northern hemisphere hotels are busy promoting their winter sales, Down Under hotels are advertising summer specials, and there's a particularly good one on offer from the Urban group of hotels, represented in the three major east coast cities.
The three places - Urban St Leonard's in Sydney, Urban St Kilda in Melbourne and the Urban Brisbane - have got together to organize a half-price summer sale. The deal is that if you make your booking this week (before Saturday, October 31), you can get your room for A$99 ($91) a night instead of the usual average of A$199 ($180). The sad thing is that the Aussie dollar is pretty strong right now, so if you're booking in another currency the deal isn't anywhere near as good as it might have been a few months ago.
The summer deal is good for stays between December 18 and January 18, 2010 in Sydney and Melbourne, while in Brisbane, apparently summer lasts a lot longer – the deal is valid for stays between December 18 and February 14 next year. Just look for the "Hotel Urban turns up the heat" prices when you book online – we saw plenty of $99 rooms left.
The Limes is a new favorite topic for design lovers and a recent post about it summed up the whole theory of designer Alexander Lotersztain pretty nicely:
Alexander concentrated his design focus on the 21 rooms to cater for the independent traveller, rejecting the 5-star norms and opting to focus on guests' primary travel requirements through unique design solutions in styled lodgings.
Some of these "primary travel requirements" turn out to be things like hammocks on the balconies, which definitely add a welcome relaxing touch to a Brisbane stay, or chocolate brownies on arrival: absolutely a travel requirement.
The Limes has now been open a couple of months and they have started offering a few specials; we like the sound of the Pampered People package with two nights' accommodation for two, sparkling wine on arrival and two selections from the bar menu--remembering it's a roof-top bar near the roof-top cinema--from A$499 (US$470).
[Photo: Limes Hotel]
It might not be planning to check in any guests until 2012, but the Westin chain are excited enough to tell us that they are planning to open up in Brisbane soon as part of an Australian expansion.
Queensland's sunny capital, Brisbane, will house the third Aussie Westin after Sydney and Melbourne. The new Westin will be purpose-built and will have 306 rooms in a handy spot in the center of the city--near the Central Station, casino and the large convention center. It will share a 66-story tower that will also include private residences.
The Westin bed will be there, of course, and a spa, indoor pool and fitness center--although they're not saying yet whether we'll be able to get fit with their Wiis or not. We sure hope so. Then again, come 2012, there might be an even more fun way of getting a workout.
Boutique hotels in the Queensland capital of Brisbane are quite a new thing. The Design Hotels group has just announced that another one is on its way, with the predicted May 1, 2008 opening of the Limes Hotel in Brisbane's nightlife district, Fortitude Valley.
However, designer Alexander Lotersztain says that it's not exactly a hotel: it's a "designer bar/cinema with contemporary rooms". The Limes website is full of poetry espousing the virtues of the not-exactly-hotel, with a few spectacularly corny lines like:
Night falls your head onto our heavenly beds / Home ... you'll find yourself not wanting to leave / Luxury at your fingertips down to your feet.
There'll be 21 deluxe rooms at the Limes, and they'll be equipped with Ploh bed linens and select toiletries by L'Occitain. Free WiFi will also be standard (yay!). The cinema Lotersztain talks of is actually an outdoor one (perhaps a la San Diego's Pearl) and there's also a tapas bar and a rooftop lounge bar. Online bookings aren't open yet--making it seem like they're not so confident about the May 1 opening--but we'll keep you informed.
We are suckers for a room with a killer view. We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.
Sometimes we get killer views from hotel rooms, and sometimes we get tips on seeing a killer view without checking in. And that's what we've got for the Novotel Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, although it seems like a reasonable hotel to actually stay in, too.
This view is down to Anzac Square in Brisbane, and traveler bram_souffreau had this to say:
I took this picture from the highest level of the Novotel hotel. Walk through the lobby, take the elevator and choose the highest level. There's a window with a beautiful view over Brisbane. You don't need to sleep there...
Ironically, the Novotel Brisbane has a motto on its website saying "Giving you the space to do as you please, which is kind of what this photographer did.
· Brisbane Hotel Reviews [HotelChatter]
· Travel Stories in Brisbane [Jaunted]
Claiming to be the first "real" boutique hotel in Queensland's capital, Brisbane, the Emporium Hotel was scheduled to open this month, but now says it'll be ready to operate in June 2007. While boutique gives the impression of being a bit private and secluded, the Emporium is actually a part of the massive retail and dining precinct.
We might be overly suspicious, but the pre-marketing of the Emporium is just too sickly-sweet to sound realistic. The way they say it, the Emporium will be:
A tangible vision of contemporary elegance and hospitality ... The Emporium Hotel interiors will surprise and delight, creating a fusion of the exquisite with the eclectic, delivered in the art of elite bohemian elegance.
On the factual side of things, suites will include king-size beds, kitchenettes, washing machines, plasma TVs, Wifi, and a pillow menu. Room rates are set to start at almost A$500 (US$415) which is not exactly on the cheap side for Brisbane.
[Photo: Crazy Boot]
· Brisbane Set To Welcome First True Boutique Hotel [eHotelier]