July 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)International Focus Sydney

Distinctive display: The downtown Sydney skyline
Distinctive display: The downtown Sydney skyline

Sydney still is riding high following its successful hosting of the 2000 Olympic Games. Tourists and locals alike are flocking to the city’s famed Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House (celebrating its 30th anniversary in October) and Bondi Beach; and if you have flown this far, then a second flight to, say, the Great Barrier Reef or Ayres Rock is hardly an impediment to further adventure. Incentives are big here.

Among recent offerings, the Australian Tourist Commission and Qantas Airways have joined together to offer a range of seven-day incentive packages for U.S. groups, starting at US$2,499 per person. More details are online at www.meetings.australia.com Also worth noting: From Oct. 10 to Nov. 22, Sydney will play host to the Rugby World Cup; expect hotel rooms to be hard to come by during game dates.

The Hilton Sydney will reopen in summer 2004 following a US$200 million renovation. Improvements include a new 15,000-square-foot convention center able to accommodate 3,000 people, giving the hotel a total of almost 40,000 square feet of meeting space. The top-to-bottom refit also will add a new lobby and facade but will reduce the room count to 577 from 585. The well-known Marble Bar, with replica 15th-century Renaissance architecture, will remain unchanged.

Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts entered the Australian market when it took over the the 561-room ANA Harbour Grand Hotel Sydney on July 1. Renamed the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, the 36-story property stands between the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House and has 20,444 square feet of meeting space, including a 7,000-square-foot ballroom.

Opened in 1988 and last expanded in 1999, the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, in the city’s Darling Harbour area, is soon to grow larger once again. In March, the New South Wales government approved construction of an extra 100,000 square feet of space for a total of 400,000 square feet. Completion is set for spring 2005. The center has 30 meeting rooms.

Metropolitan area
Six Continents recently sold the 166-room Manly Pacific Parkroyal to Accor, which plans a renovation and rebranding as a Novotel. The beachside property, about 12 miles north of downtown Sydney, opened in 1982 and offers eight meeting rooms, including a 5,700-square-foot ballroom.

Within driving distance
In the town of Katoomba, 60 miles northwest of Sydney’s center, Orient-Express refurbished its famed Lilianfels Blue Mountains resort to the tune of US$3.5 million. The 85-room property, which features meeting space for up to 140 people and impressive views of the Blue Mountains, finished the extensive nine-month project in late May.

Last fall, the 60-acre Hunter Valley Gardens opened a new 250-seat conference room called the Semillon. Meeting space also includes the adjacent Shiraz Room, which seats up to 250, and the Chardonnay Room, accommodating 140. The gardens, 75 miles northwest of Sydney, highlight roses and Japanese floral designs. Also on-site is the 72-room Hunter Valley Gardens Lodge.

• By Terence Baker IMAGE
Lisbon’s 194-room Pestana Carlton Palace Hotel, formerly the Palácio Valle Flor, opened last year. The main building, a national monument, was restored to its grand 19th-century ambience, and two wings were added to house the guest rooms. The property has 15 meeting rooms, a fitness center, formal gardens and an outdoor pool. (011) 351-291-209100; www.pestana.com Back to Newsline
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