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The landscape of Aussie hotels will be changed for the better this month when the newest brand of hotels opens its doors. If you're planning a trip down under and don't want to smash your piggy bank doing so, then remember this name: Atura Hotels.
The newest option comes to us from a group called Amalgamated Holding Limited, but you might know them better by the work they've been doing with QT Hotels and Rydges Hotels. But instead of resting on their laurels with the cool edginess of QT and the family-resort of Rydges, they've gone a created a new concept that will be appealing to business travelers and those that don't want to miss out on cool hotel design to save a few bucks. (Which is like, everyone everywhere.)
Atura's first property is already checking in guests in Sydney's inner-suburb of Blacktown. Aside from cool design, guests will get free in-room movies, coffee machines and a business center completely outfitted with iMacs. But if you'd rather stay connected on the go, there is free WiFi throughout the hotel and in every guestroom. If you've ever been to Australia, you know this is a big deal since hotels charge a pretty penny for some connectivity.
The Rydges Hotel chain across Australia and New Zealand keeps a blog but if we're honest, it rarely produces any particularly interesting posts--and it doesn't help that they post on average once every six weeks. But today we read about their newly anointed Green Globe hotels and we're happy to spread the word.
Hotel videos are all the rage this week, but we still haven't found too many that we actually like. And while we thought that the promo videos from the Hilton Caribbean hotels were pretty average, we've unfortunately found a variety of hotel YouTube efforts that are worse.
Our problem with the Hilton Caribbean promo vids was that they were so, well, promotional. But in retrospect, we liked the fact that the Hilton Caribbean videos actually featured video. The waves rolled, the palm trees blew in the wind and there were real live people walking around.
If you turn your attention to a hotel video like the one just featured on the Rydges Blog for the Rydges Sabaya Resort Port Douglas in Queensland, Australia--although in fact, we don't really recommend giving it too much attention--you'll see a lot of similarities to other videos, except that there's nothing actually moving. It's just a bunch of still photography that's zoomed in and out a bit to give the feeling that it was worth making it into a video, but in fact it's even duller than the hotel videos we already labeled dull.
Which is a pity, because we think the Rydges Sabaya Resort is actually a nice place. We recommend trying it in person (room rates start at US$230 a night) rather than living the torture of the video. And we put out the call once more for hotels to make interesting promo videos. Please.
It does take a little longer for things to travel all the way to Australia, but now the concept of checking in online is beginning to catch on. According to the blog belonging to the Rydges hotel chain, Rydges properties across Australia (and, in fact, New Zealand) are now offering a web check in service for anyone belonging to their PriorityGUEST loyalty program.
The bit we think is very convenient, although somehow kind of odd, is that you do your online check in at the same time as you make your booking. You only have to check a box during the reservation process and you're considered checked in. When you arrive at the hotel, showing your PriorityGUEST card will be enough for you to get your key, no further questions asked.
Sounds easy, just a pity it's restricted to loyalty program members, and we're also a bit suspicious that it's too easy to be true. Australians are generally good technology adopters, though, so it will probably catch on fast and spread to other Down Under hotels soon.