Home to various business talks, dinners, after-show parties, afternoon tea and the Wittner's exhibition for the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, I was lured to visit and experience the Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Towering above the prestige top end of Collins Street in its shiny golden coat, this popular hotel is at the centre of Melbourne's theatre and shopping district, with high fashion neighbours like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Hermes. Officially opened on Friday 7 November 1986 as Hyatt on Collins, this iconic Melbourne property synonymous with high society glamour and gala balls turned 25 years in 2011. The hotel underwent an AUD45 million renovation in 2007 which contemporised the interiors with timber, pine, Grecian marble, hanging crystals, fine art and sculptures away from the original glam 80s Art Deco feel, towering bronze sculptures and the acres of marble, brass and salmon pink by developer Max Moar.
The hotel was alive as I enter from the bluestone walkway at the Collins Street entrance. The lobby was humming with traffic heading towards the conference level, restaurant and checking in on a weekday. There long queue of guests at the front office hinted at the thriving business. The possible long waiting time and challenges of room availability reminded of similar occasions in other business hotels and I was glad I wasn't in line for a room that day.
There are several reasons to stay in the Grand Hyatt's Club rooms or suites as a business traveller. Firstly, the floor-to-ceiling windows that offer uninterrupted Melbourne city views and the work area with its L-shaped sofa, round table and leather upholstered armchair instead of your conventional work desk and chair. Then there's round-the-clock availability of caffeine fixes in your room via the Nespresso machine. Not barista quality, but far better than the freeze-dried sachets. Users of iPod will also be delighted with the docking stations in all rooms. With access to the Grand Club lounge, you can take in the panoramic views of Melbourne city's skyline from the 31st floor including Federation Square and Flinders Street Station. There are a total of 548 guest rooms and all stays through 30 November 2012 include a chance to win prizes, from a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne to an upgrade to the Grand Suite.
The food and beverage scene in Grand Hyatt Melbourne is where you expect to see suits meeting over coffee, women of leisure having afternoon tea after a tiring day of shopping and teams of executives at lunch.
Past the two-storey glass-bead and resin sculpture known as the 'curtain of light' is Collins Kitchen, the hotel's signature restaurant with 180 covers.
One of its attractive design features is the show kitchen where you can enjoy the theatrics of the chefs cooking and chat with them. The range of offerings from deli, patisserie, sushi, grill to wok reminds me fondly of the Mezz 9 restaurant in Grand Hyatt Singapore.
The weekday lunch buffet at AUD38 is a value-for-money treat of seafood, delicatessen, pizza, hot dishes, Chinese BBQ and dessert.
Another dining option is the Lobby Lounge and Bistro Bar, offering all day dining. The RU-CO bar offers a glam space with mirrored tables, tall bar stools and oversized chairs for drinks in the evenings till late.
Grand Hyatt Melbourne is popular with many national and regional events due to its Collin Street location and its 16 flexible event spaces to accommodate the small meetings to large conferences and weddings. It was the venue for the recent Australian Farmer of the Year Awards hosted by ABC Rural, the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and Kondinin Group. One of the unique characteristics of the ballrooms is the feature lighting and control. They apply the latest technology in light and colour, allowing the ballrooms to transform their interiors.
Another signature meeting feature in the hotel is the 'Residence', pioneered by New York-based designer Tony Chi. This is a grand mansion-like environment where guest can feel at home during conferences, launches cocktail and dinner parties and weddings instead of being in an atypical hotel function room. The 'Residence' can accommodate up to 450 persons in 5 individually styled rooms that open to an atrium-like courtyard with trees and natural light.