Hilton Worldwide has launched its Doubletree brand in Australia, as well as adding its ninth Hilton Hotels property in the country.
The rebranded hotels are all located in Australia’s fast-growing Northern Territory, with two Doubletree properties and a Hilton hotel being located in the state’s capital Darwin, and a further Doubletree located in Alice Springs.
The hotels were all previously branded under Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands, with the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs becoming the Doubletree by Hilton Alice Springs, the Crowne Plaza Darwin rebranding as the Hilton Darwin, the Holiday Inn Darwin becoming the Doubletree by Hilton Darwin, and the adjacent Holiday Inn Esplanade Darwin rebranding as the Doubletree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin.
A new-build Doubletree property is also set to open in the Western Australian town of Karratha next year, featuring 164 rooms, an all-day dining restaurant and bar, and an outdoor swimming pool.
Martin Kendall, Hilton’s area general manager for Australia’s Northern Territory, and previously general manager of the recently refurbished Hilton Brisbane, said that it had been important to launch the Doubletree brand in Australia with several properties, creating “a critical mass” that had made it “easier to convince both hotel owners and guests”.
Kendall said that investment in the region, including the $34 billion Japan-backed Ichthys oil project, was bringing increased numbers of business travellers to Darwin, and he added that the city’s proximity to South East Asian destinations such as Singapore, Bali and the Philippines was promoting Darwin as an alternative gateway to Asia, with Qantas’s low-cost subsidiary Jetstar offering flights to all three destinations.
Kendall said that a growing corporate market was also leading to a “blurring of the seasonal demand” in the region, with Darwin traditionally seeing its peak season during the dry months between May and September, followed by lower demand during the wet season between October and April, during which time the city experiences monsoon rains and spectacular lightning displays.
The three Darwin properties offer a total of around 400 rooms, with the Hilton Darwin – located on Mitchell Street in the city’s central business district – aimed at the high-end corporate traveller, the Doubletree by Hilton Darwin situated at the western end of the city’s Esplanade and most suited to the local corporate market, and the Doubletree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin attracting the MICE market, with six meeting spaces including the Arafura Ballroom capable of accommodating up to 400 people theatre-style.
The two Doubletree hotels are located next to each other on the Esplanade, a situation which Kendall admitted was “fairly unique and challenging”, particularly with the two properties having similar names, but he said that efforts had been made to educate taxi drivers and local travel agents, and large signs had been placed outside the hotels showing the building numbers to help avoid confusion.
The building now housing the Doubletree by Hilton Darwin (pictured above) is well-known to the local community, as, having been originally completed in May 1974, it survived the devastating Cyclone Tracy which took place on Christmas Day that year, killing 71 people and destroying 70 percent of the city’s buildings.
Kendall said that there were plans to refurbish the properties during the wet season to bring them in line with the Doubletree offering, with prototype rooms due to be set up in two of the hotels “in the next few months”. Soft touches have already been put in place such as the brand’s signature cookie being offered to all guests on arrival, and all four of the rebranded hotels now participate in the Hilton HHonors loyalty scheme.
The Hilton Darwin becomes the ninth Hilton Hotels and Resorts property in Australia, adding to existing hotels in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne (two properties), Perth, Surfers Paradise and Sydney.
Report by Mark Caswell