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Yesterday, we looked at what it means to be eco-friendly in Costa Rica. Today, we're looking at how Down Under does eco-friendly.
Tucked off the coast of Queensland, Australia sits Fraser Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers picturesque settings and incredible wildlife sightings. This contributor recently had the opportunity to experience first hand why many visitors rave about the island with a stay at the upscale, yet laid back eco-lodge, Kingfisher Bay Resort.
The entire stay got me thinking about what a hotel has to do in order to be considered an eco-resort.Thanks to a framed explanation in our room from the Ecotourism Association of Australia, we know that there are five points to consider.
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As promised back in January, Hayman Island – the northernmost of Australia’s Whitsunday Islands – reopened last week fresh off of $80 million dollars’ worth of revamp, officially becoming “One&Only Hayman Island” in the process.
A lot has changed, as you would expect for that kind of cash, from updated rooms to a new spa and restaurants, but the basics are still there: a remote private island, a yacht transfer (or seaplane or helicopter, if you prefer) away from Hamilton Island, and the expanse of the Great Barrier Reef around you.
Australia's third-largest city was at one time considered a "big-country town", but that nickname might be ancient history with Brisbane welcoming three new hotels over the next few months. And the transformation couldn't come at a more perfect time with the G20 Summit taking place in the city this November.
Previously, Brisbane was rather barren when it came to edgy hotels. But soon the city will have a lot to show when it comes to cool destination hotels.
Already welcoming guests, Gambaro Hotel will attract those who want a slice of design within Brisbane's liveliest entertainment districts. Located on Caxton Street, Gambaro offers up sleek decor and luxury amenities like APPELLES Apothecary amenities and Sealy signature beds. Best of all, it has a rooftop with extraordinary views.
Once we had had a sunset cocktail at qualia, it was time to have a closer look at what you can expect inside one of its 60 individual Pavilions, consisting of Leeward and Windward Pavilions and the signature Beach House.
Scattered around the northernmost tip of Hamilton Island, all Pavilions look out to the Coral Sea: turndown service can draw the blinds for you at night, or you can leave them up and wake up with the sun streaming in in the morning. We liked the simplicity of the design, mixing polished woods with predominant white, and every part of the pavilion focused on the floor-to-ceiling windows and what’s outside.
At night, you’ll find an activity sheet in your Pavilion with an overview of what’s on – or can be arranged – the next day. From early morning yoga classes to those sunset cocktails and trips out to the Reef, there are lots of options.
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Once you’ve made it past the gates at Hamilton Island’s qualia, there is lots to explore, but one of the first things we did was head down to the helipad. While we arrived at the hotel through more traditional means (i.e. a transfer from the island’s cute airport), you’ll find this more high-flying option at the water’s edge, also used for helicopter trips to nearby sights like stunning Whitehaven Beach.
Its vantage point means the grassy circle lends itself perfectly for sunset cocktails: chilled glass in hand, you can watch the sun paint the sky with color as it sinks rapidly into the horizon at the end of the afternoon (and sink rapidly it does, given the relative proximity to the Equator).
Having seen just how stylish the staff at QT Sydney looked (not to mention the hotel itself), we couldn’t leave the Australian capital Canberra without popping into the brand new QT Canberra, which opened mere weeks before we walked in on a sparkly sunny Southern Hemisphere autumn-in-April day.
Taking the canvas of the former Rydges Lakeside hotel, QT went to town and transformed the 15-story building on Canberra’s London Circuit into something completely different; our local friends told us it was unrecognizable - and much improved - in its new incarnation. Canberra being the heart of the Australian government, and the hotel having seen its fair share of high-profile guests and hush-hush dealings, political references are plenty – from the live Twitter wall at reception to the politicians’ portraits and wallpaper on the ground floor. Check out the new look of the guestrooms, restaurant, terrace, and speakeasy-style bar below.
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Dramatic in a very Jurassic Park-esque manner, these gates guard the entrance to qualia, the luxury resort set on the northernmost tip of Hamilton Island, part of the Whitsunday Islands off the northeast coast of Australia.
While the gates in the 1993 Spielberg classic provided a close up with some very large – and lethal – species, qualia gives you access to the biggest single structure made by living organisms: the Great Barrier Reef, as well as everything else that you make the (invariably lengthy) journey out here for: sun, sand, azure blue sea, and 60 luxurious pavilions, or as qualia translates from Latin, ‘a collection of deep sensory experiences’.
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Some like it hot. But more people like it free. We're talking about WiFi here.
In the wake of all of our WiFi news from last week, we've got some great news from the land Down Under, where getting free WiFi or even cheap WiFi is never easy. In fact, it's almost impossible. But not anymore.
Starting this week, Amalgamated Holdings Limited will be offering guests at all their hotels complimentary WiFi to browse the web, check email and Instagram the cool rooms (or so the hotel group hopes.)
Take it from us, WiFi doesn't come cheap at hotels in Oz. We've been offered up some connectivity if we forked over anywhere from $15 to $29.90 per day. Yes, we said per day! Now, you see why this is such a big deal for an entire portfolio of over 40 hotels to ante up some WiFi as part of the nightly rate.
Let this be a little message to other hotels, just do it already! Offering this service can't be that hard, can it?
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We first talked about the vintage awesomeness of Terrace Hotel and the gaming paradise of Crown and then the luxury of a Ritz-Carlton, but now even more hotel announcements are coming out of Perth. Australia's fourth largest city is surely the newest hot spot for new properties, major renovations and increased service, but all of this may come at a high price.
Room rates in the west coast city are not cheap. On a recent trip with an overnight stop-over in Perth, we searched high and low for an affordable room that wasn't the Bates Motel. Our efforts turned up a room that was close to the airport (we had an early flight) that set us back $250 for the night. The room was basic; the building, prison-like. We weren't impressed and we wondered what was going on with Perth's hotel scene?
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When thinking about a trip to Australia, visions of Sydney's Harbour Bridge, the laneways of Melbourne or swimming the iconic Great Barrier Reef come to mind. Well, now let us draw your attention to a hotel that's not only in the middle of "Crocodile Country" but is also shaped like a giant man-eating reptile.
Far away from all of the typical Aussie tourist spots, is the Northern Territory which is locally known as the "top end" since its, well, on the top of the country. It's home to not-so-little rock called Ayers Rock, but even further north is the Kakadu National Park, the largest national park in Australia and a great place to see real Aussie crocs.
At last, Ritz-Carlton Hotels is returning to Australia. But instead of setting up shop in Sydney where it once had the Ritz-Carlton Double Bay (now in progress to become an InterContinental Hotel) and the Ritz-Carlton Sydney, Ritz is going to the opposite coast to Perth, which could desperately use a new luxury hotel.
“We are delighted to bring the legendary Ritz-Carlton facilities and services to Perth, offering our guests a new destination and a new luxury experience in Western Australia. We have great partners in Far East Consortium and look forward to opening this incredible hotel in 2018," Herve Humler, President and Chief Operations Officer, The Ritz-Carlton, said in a statement.
The Far East Consortium is the developing partner on the project who will construct the 204-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel along with residential apartments. The hotel and residences, along with retail spaces and restaurants, will be located in the Elizabeth Quay development on Perth's waterfront.
Ground-breaking will happen next year and hopefully, we'll get to enjoy the new Ritz by 2018. And since most new-build Ritz-Carltons have been making WiFi free for guests, we hope the Perth hotel will do the same.
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Our stay wasn't perfect. When we highlighted our minor issues, it caused quite a stir amongst our readers. We later opted to let the property know, via an email survey, what we usually expect from Starwood Hotels and other international hotel chains and why this stay fell short.
Since then, we've been in contact with the Four Points' general manager (who also saw our story on HotelChatter.) In true form of a good hotelier, he not only took the feedback on to ensure it doesn't happen again, but also explained why we experienced the hiccups. Here are the responses: