Parkroyal Darling Harbour
150 Day St, Sydney NSW
(02) 9261 1188 or www.parkroyalhotels.com/darlingharbour
From its lemongrass-scented foyer to the plush Club Lounge on the top floor,
everything at Parkroyal Darling Harbour is new again. In January the 340- room hotel unveiled its $20m makeover, completed while ‘business as usual’ continued unabated — with design from Hassell Studio.
The huge atrium, creamy white curves (including the ‘pods’ at reception, replacing the customary monolithic desk) and turquoise and teal shades throughout reflect the Sydney and harbour surrounds, as well as the Parkroyal brand standards. The decision to upgrade was made easier, says Craig Bond, by the fact that the property is owned by the Pan Pacific Hotels Group. Bond is the Area General Manager, Oceania for Pan Pacific, and explains that having faith in the local market also helped. “We like to enhance our assets to ensure that they remain current, they remain fresh, and we also remain as leaders in the locations and destinations where we operate,” he says. “So the decision for us was probably a lot easier than it would be for other operators, where they operate on behalf of owners. We have confidence in the Sydney market, and the other reason was that we introduced the Parkroyal brand back into Australia — and part of introducing the Parkroyal brand back into Australia was making sure that our Parkroyal product is ‘on brand’.”
In a precinct full of hotels, introducing extras to the guest experience is key to becoming the pick of the bunch. While Parkroyal is an international brand, each property has its own character, says Bond; no cookie-cutter approaches allowed. “We don’t necessarily use the same architects or designers for every project.” Hassell designed the reception pods (small stations where staff interact with guests), which reference the sails of the Opera House. Bond explains: “That’s one component. We’ve got artwork in our rooms, some really beautiful still photography of architectural components of Sydney – certain parts of the bridge, certain parts of the harbour, certain parts of the Opera House. The turquoise really fits in with our location and its identity as a water city. So you’ll encounter lots of outdoor elements in the design and elements of the city in the interior architecture.” New South Wales’ very own waratah even makes an appearance — in all its bold teal glory — on the hotel’s corridor carpets.
Hassell Studio Principal, Susan Standring, saw a need for the hotel’s spaces to be more connected and flexible. “The curved form of the reception was inspired by the connection from the entry driveway to the lobby, providing instant engagement with the surrounding landscape design,” she says. “The re-planning of the menu of spaces really engaged with the aspiration for visual connectivity and physical flexibility which is evident in the restaurant, club lounge and guest rooms.” The space is brightened by the atrium’s effect of natural light.
Inside the rooms, neutral greys and textures of the bush are joined by the blue and green of the sea – “a ‘sanctuary’ within the urban context,” says Standring. Dark wood and fabrics such as linen add contrast and depth. Standring describes the design approach to the rooms as contemporary and “crafted” – the idea of sanctuary is enhanced by a residential feel, and flexibility from bespoke joinery and freestanding elements.
ADDING SOME HOTSOS
The need to invest in technology that enhances the guest experience is paramount, says Bond. As flat-screen televisions and iPod docking stations become everyday items in travellers’ homes, the next advancements are in developing a seamless guest experience, with the help of HotSOS (Hotel Service Optimisation System). For example, housekeeping staff at Parkroyal now carry PDAs that automatically update room lists when guests request late check-outs and don’t wish to be disturbed. “Technology is one of those things that moves very, very quickly, and in the hotel world we need to run to keep up,” Bond explains. This HotSOS technology will now be part of upgrade plans for other Parkroyal properties. “The guest doesn’t see it, but it increases the level of customer service without them really knowing.” Bond continues. The next step will be guests even using their smartphones to check in.
Parkroyal Darling Harbour boasts Barkers restaurant, and the Blackwattle Ballroom, a three-in- function space enhanced with new audiovisual capabilities. But the feather in the hotel’s cap is the nine-floor Club Lounge, complemented by 60 extra-special Club Rooms on the floor below, all with eye-popping views of Darling Harbour. “We’ve invested a lot of money in this product and we’re delighted with its lovely residential feel,” says Bond. “And for a four-and-a-halfstar hotel to have a Club Floor — two floors of dedicated club accommodation, which is a different design to the rest of the hotel rooms — and to have this club lounge where you can have a wonderful breakfast and evening drinks and a wonderful array of food, is quite unique for a hotel in our competitor set.”
With its calm, neutral tones, lounges and tables with a view, and a bonus meeting room; the Club Lounge is a sanctuary within a sanctuary. “Various timber mouldings reinterpret traditional Australian architectural elements and the different areas within the lounge offer a range of environments for guests to enjoy,” says Standring.
“Our group likes the Club Lounge concept,” says Bond. And little wonder, as the Club Lounge provides the business traveller with a smart connected hub, while simultaneously providing the leisure traveller with a wonderful ‘value add’.
“Travellers can treat themselves, have a wonderful breakfast, use the club lounge, have a really nice room — very comfortable, very modern — and we’re finding that it’s also an opportunity to yield the business. It gives you another price point, and at the end of the day it’s profitable. “
“With hand on heart I can safely say our club product is better than many fivestar hotel accommodation in Sydney,” Bond enthuses. And feedback has been glowing. New designs, subtle extras, sanctuary lounges – big investments can yield big returns.
The hotel has completely modernised the audiovisual offering throughout the hotel ensuring all of today’s personal in-room technology needs are meet along with the presentation requirements of conferences. ParkRoyal has highly trained onsite technicians available to ensure any event runs smoothly.The jewel in the events crown is the elegant and stylish Blackwattle Ballroom, which can be divided into three separate rooms and has integrated ceiling-mounted QSC audio systems and Shure digital radio microphones to ensure clear audio in all parts of the room or rooms. A hi-def 5300 ANSI lumen Sony data projectors and new 3320mm x 1865mm widescreen motorised screens allow video or PowerPoint presentations to be displayed with clear sight lines and crisp clear images visible from the entire room. Lighting rigging and infrastructure allows any possible configuration of event to be held with lighting effects and amenity suitable for all event types from gala dinners to conferences and meetings.
Hassell Studio: www.hassellstudio.com
TAG (QSC): (02) 9519 0900 or www.tag.com.au
Jands (Shure): (02) 9582 0909 or www.jands.com.au