Shaking things up in “BrisVegas”

27 Dec 2018 by Riaan Jacob George

A Disruptive Arrival

Talk about arriving in style! I find myself at the arrivals lounge of Brisbane Airport, whisked away towards the parking lot by a W Insider — who, interestingly enough, shows off a quirky blonde hairdo and dangling Ws for earrings. But the surprise is yet to come. I show up at the parking lot to be met by the sight of a BMW X5 entirely painted in black and white zebra stripes. Not the most discreet of airport transfers, I’d say, but a sure shot way to make a statement. During my 30-minute ride to downtown Brisbane, my striped BMW X5 turned almost every head in the city. We pull up into the massive driveway of the spanking new hotel and I’m immediately bathed in a sense of that unmistakable, pleasantly subversive W glamour. There’s a large golden “W” that stands on the pavement, right next to a giant golden pineapple installation (which, doubles up as a DJ console).

What’s Hot

Touted as Australia’s hottest new hotel this year, W Brisbane marks the W brands entry (or re-entry) into Australia, and everything about the look and feel of the hotel, including the staff service screams “laidback Aussie lifestyle”. A case in point are the chic sneaker-clad staff, who are effervescent and smiling throughout the hotel. Like any W hotel across the globe, the W Brisbane has a very strong design story. Australian firm Nic Graham & Associates uses the neighbouring river as a leitmotif that is visible throughout the property — seen in the lobby staircase created with timber, carpets with choppy water motifs. Over smart cocktails at the lobby lounge Living Room Bar (W eschews the word “lobby” and uses living room), I get chatting with Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader at W Hotels Worldwide who decodes the hotel’s visibly “Aussie” feel  — “W Brisbane is a very good example of how you can use design to create a very local experience. One which still feels very much part of the W brand and one that is very forward thinking. We strive to create a design that is very grounded in the destination.” A statement that is evidenced in the creative boho-chic elements. Ingham goes on to tell me that the hotel’s design narrative is named “A River Dreaming” after the Brisbane River.

I check into my river-facing room, one of 312 guestrooms at the hotel. Understated and minimalist are perhaps not the best way to describe the room, as the Aussie vibe is translated beautifully in the quirky, glamorous design. I walk into the modernist bathroom to find plush W bathrobes, Bliss amenities, while the much-talked-about W bed invites me to a jetlag-busting slumber. Other perks in my room include a massive 55-inch LED screen, Bluetooth speakers
by Bowers & Wilkins and a Nespresso machine. In keeping with the hotel’s witty motto “Detox. Retox. Repeat”, my room features the W Mixbar, with a range of spirits (in semi-large bottles), mixers and cocktail apparatus.

Aussie Flavour

While on the subject of anchoring hotel experiences in a local context, the hotel concierge — aptly named W Insiders — thrive on their motto Whatever/Whenever. I walk around the Living Room interacting with some of the W Insiders, who suggest a string of fun, innovative things to do in and around Brisbane. My excursions included visiting the trendy Asian eatery Chu The Phat, paying a visit to a fashion and design exhibition at QUT Creative Industries and a day trip to the picturesque Byron Bay area.

In keeping with the hotel’s mission for healthy living, one morning, I was even driven by a W Insider to a local fitness centre, InspireCycle to enjoy a high-energy indoor cycling experience, which incidentally is located in Teneriffe, one of Brisbane’s hippest suburbs.

My “Local Insider” experiences do not end here. During a day trip to Byron Bay, I find myself taking a leisurely stroll through a farm in Byron Bay in the company of Darren Robertson, Chef from Three Blue Ducks. International foodies need no introduction to the interestingly named Three Blue Ducks, which since its humble beginnings in Sydney’s Bronte beach has now become an Australian food icon of sorts. What started off as a vision of three friends is now a pan-Australia network of five friends, who work closely with ethical local producers and farmers, to bring delicious, ethical and interesting food to its restaurants. This visit to Three Blue Ducks Byron Bay is not without coincidence. The restaurant’s latest outpost now enjoys pride of place at W Brisbane, once again pushing the philosophy of “paddock to plate”. The Ducks is where I enjoyed more than one lovely meal during my stay at W Brisbane — don’t miss a gourmet flat white prepared before your eyes at the barista station.

Given that this is Australia’s biggest and most talked-about hotel launch of the year, Anthony Ingham tells me that his team is going all out to market the property in as innovative a way as possible, to increase visibility. marriott.com

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