Day 2 on the road, saw us stuck in the unenviable position of rush hour from Manly into the City and the realisation as to why we work from home as often as possible! We finally reached our first appointment for the day, enjoying a lovely breakfast with our most understanding and gracious hosts at the Swissotel Sydney.
Accommodation here is lovely, all you would expect of a 5 star hotel and more, with rooms bright, airy and welcoming. Whilst the main conference spaces here unfortunately do not offer natural light, the “skylight effect” lighting throughout, plus sunlight-flooded atrium (even on this cloudy morning) used as the pre-function space certainly compensated for this – the atmosphere serene and refreshing. This main conference space suits up to 450 delegates depending on the set up, also lending itself well to networking or trade displays. For more intimate meetings, boardrooms on a separate floor, with nearby access to the outdoor pool terrace, offer a distraction free environment.
From here it was then on to the new Karsten’s facility which is located next door to the Quay West Suites on Harrington Street. Some of you may be familiar with Karsten’s in Melbourne? Both properties lend themselves as the perfect venues for those seeking training facilities or for day seminars and workshops. The meeting rooms here come in ‘small’, ‘standard’, ‘medium’ and ‘large’ (literally). All have natural light, some even with views over Circular Quay. In addition, there are also a couple of training rooms set up with lines of computers. Accommodation is available if necessary at the Quay West Suites.
From there it was on to the Four Points by Sheraton – our GPS struggling to navigate Sydney’s one way streets! This hotel is ideally positioned on Darling Harbour. Unfortunately the largest conference room was in use today, but having seen it on our last trip, can advise it’s comfortable for groups of up to 430 theatre style, plus there’s plenty of adjoining space for the trade display booths many of you may require. A number of smaller conference rooms on levels 11 & 15 have fantastic views over Darling Harbour, whilst the Maritime Room also offers access to the outdoor terrace - perfect for small cocktail parties and informal breakout sessions.
Accommodation rooms are all spacious, modern and some even boast a balcony. The venue also can provide quite an unusual dinner venue for a change of scene – why not utilise the area normally put aside for coach check in? The atmosphere feels like you are outside on the street front, yet you are 100% sheltered and contained within the hotel – old building facades retained due to heritage listings add much character to this venue.
Now in need of some serious refuelling (no way we were missing lunch 2 days in a row!) we headed down to the Parkroyal on Darling Harbour - a recent acquisition by the Pan Pacific Hotel Group (formerly known as the Crowne Plaza Darling Harbour). The recently rebranding seems to have gone seamlessly with helpful, experienced staff at the helm. The hotel is definitely a good, solid 4 star property in a great location. Rooms are clean and comfortable, conference space is ideal for groups of up to about 250 delegates.
It is at this point that Lisa and I split up on our separate paths with Lisa heading enjoy the traditional, heritage feel of The Grace Hotel, then soaking up the sophisticated ambience at Amora Hotel Jamison… whilst Corrie made her way to North Sydney for a client appointment then popping in to see the fantastically refurbished Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay on the way back.
We then found each other again at the luxurious InterContinental Hotel. What a beautiful example of ‘old meets new’ in true 5 star tradition! The conference rooms are each so unique, with masses of character… OK, so most have pillars in them – but highly professional and knowledgeable staff certainly know how to guide you to make best use of each space without these encroaching on your event.
Accommodation at InterContinental is superb and very modern – and we definitely recommend if you have room within your budget, upgrade your delegates to the Club Lounge which has access to the terrace and possibly the best 180 degree views we’ve seen yet of Sydney!
On the homeward straight now, we make our way ‘home’ for the next 2 nights – Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour. Not feeling capable of even getting ourselves into a cab, we decided to enjoy a tasty, hearty dinner right next door to the hotel in The Pumphouse (and since charge back facilities are available here, certainly made it easy for us).
Accommodation rooms here again are typical of the Novotel brand, but both Lisa and I noted the fact that this was a very quiet property indeed and we slept soundly. The next night the hotel was at 100% capacity, yet again, our sleep was not disturbed even once - which when on a conference, is VERY important!
The conference facilities here suit smaller to medium sized groups. Natural light is prominent and with all meeting space being on level 1, the mezzanine level could really be taken over by your group if required. The hotel is promised a refurb but the basics have certainly been taken care of to ensure your conference runs seamlessly. And being located right next door to the Sydney Convention Centre too, this is possibly one of the best located venues for accommodation should you have a larger event held there!