by Sarah J.F. Braley | February 01, 2015
Spotlight: Melbourne
Preliminary governmental approval has been given for an expansion of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. The facility, in the South Wharf district, will get more meeting space and hotel rooms, plus new retail space. The center currently offers a 324,000-square-foot exhibition hall.

The 174-room Sheraton Melbourne Hotel, with 7,000 square feet of meeting space, debuted last year. The Shine Spa and the Little Collins Street Kitchen are on-site.

Wow Factor
The National Geographic Unique Lodges collection includes Longitude 131, in the Outback, with views of Uluru (aka Ayers Rock).
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Going Down Under is more exciting than ever for meetings and incentives. Both Sydney and Melbourne are expanding their inventories of exhibit space, and the country's resort offerings are ever more exotic.  

Sydney venues
The big news here is the continuing construction of a convention, exhibition and entertainment district called the International Convention Centre Sydney, part of a US$2.3 billion redevelopment of Darling Harbour. At the groundbreaking ceremony last May, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said an intensive work schedule would aim "to deliver the project by the end of 2016." The new convention center will have 432,000 square feet of exhibition space, 80,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a 54,000-square-foot event deck.

Already open in the district is the floating Dockside Pavilion Darling Harbour, which welcomes up to 1,440 guests for a dinner and 2,000 for a reception.

Sydney Hotel Update
The 96-room Langham, Sydney, underwent a US$28 million renovation last year, reopening in December. The lobby, dining areas, guest rooms and ballroom were redone. The Palm Court, serving afternoon tea, was revamped, and the cooking stations of the Kent Street Kitchen are now in the middle of the restaurant.

The 140-room InterContinental Sydney Double Bay opened this past November following a US$86 million renovation, marking the fifth InterContinental property in the country. Once a Ritz-Carlton, the hotel offers views of its namesake bay in Sydney Harbor. The renovated grand ballroom hosts receptions for up to 495 people. Food options include the Stockroom seasonal restaurant, the Sake Restaurant & Bar, and a restaurant and bar concept called The Group.

The 600-room Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will open in the second quarter of 2017. The luxury hotel will feature a rooftop club lounge, meeting rooms, a ballroom and an outdoor pool deck, as well as bars and restaurants with views of Darling Harbour.

The 517-room Mercure Sydney has completed a multistage renovation, upgrading all guest rooms and the eight meeting spaces, including the 3,700-square-foot ballroom. The hotel features two eateries: the Four Elements Restaurant and Eve's Place Bar & Bistro.