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.
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.