“To escape the sudden drop in Melbourne’s temperature, Corrie literally fled, courtesy of IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) to Australia’s 'Top End' to see for why this region is one to consider when thinking of somewhere completely unique for your conference or incentive group!
IHG operate the Crowne Plaza Darwin, the Holiday Inn Esplanade and the Holiday Inn Darwin, then down in Kakadu National Park there is the Holiday Inn Jabiru.
The 4 hour flight from Melbourne was arranged through Jetstar and on arrival in Darwin, we were transferred to the Crowne Plaza Darwin where we had a quick refresh before heading off for our site inspection of the Holiday Inn Esplanade. This accommodation rooms here we must admit could use an update as are the older style rooms, but are certainly clean and spacious. Would definitely appeal to those that are on a budget. The conference facility for this property was a real surprise though! I think we were all impressed by the round shaped Arufura Ballroom with its’ tropical terrace style pre function space. The room is flexible enough that it can be divided into two semi circles!
Dinner that night was on the balcony of the Suite at the Holiday Inn Esplanade – candlelit dinner on a balmy evening – welcome to Darwin!
The start on Saturday morning wasn’t too early as we enjoyed the ‘best buffet breakfast in Darwin’! We then had a quick site inspection of the conference facilities at the Crowne Plaza Darwin before heading out to the airport once more for our scenic flight into Kakadu. The conference space at the Crowne Plaza Darwin would suit the small – medium sized groups and vary in size and shape. Our Kakadu flight was operated by Barrier Air and took approximately 75 minutes with planes accommodating 5 people at a time. The Top End has just come out of the main wet season so there were varying landscapes from the wetlands through to the desert. Seeing it all from the air certainly gave us a new perspective and I would definitely recommend flying at least one way!
Upon arrival at Jabiru Airport, a quick transfer to the Holiday Inn Jabiru where rooms are clean, comfortable and relatively modern. The conference space is quite small, although the versatile dining room could also be utilised as conference space for a larger group (depending on numbers, could also mean exclusive use of the resort). We all enjoyed our poolside lunch and sampling the local produce – namely kangaroo, crocodile, barramundi etc. The food here is quite surprising and the staff reinforced that they always receive good feedback regarding the food! We were not disappointed, but all too soon we were being whisked away to resume our afternoon activities...
Sunday was an early start as we headed up to Ubirr Rock before the masses of other tourist buses – not to mention the day getting too hot. Ubirr Rock for me was one of the highlights. Amazing views, wetlands, desert, escarpment, clear blue skies and more aboriginal art. Not to mention Boots’ interesting commentary all the way! From Ubirr Rock is was a 75 minute drive to the Adelaide River where we took part in the ‘Spectacular jumping Crocodile’ cruise – and came face to face with one of the oldest crocodiles in the river (and largest!). From there it was a further hour’s journey back into Darwin where we checked back into the Crowne Plaza and then whisked off to Crocosaurus Cove to meet and greet more crocodiles and reptiles (another handy venue that can cater for up to 1,500 for an offsite cocktail party).
Drinks and canapés were then the order of the day at the Holiday Inn Darwin which has had a massive refurbishment and is looking absolutely fantastic! Conference facilities here err on the smaller side, so for groups of about 30 would be ideal. However, the accommodation may be used here and you could use the conference facilities of the Holiday Inn Esplanade which is literally 20m up the road! A few more relaxing drinks followed on Mindel Beach watching the sunset and then a browse around the Mindel Beach Markets with our ‘IHG’ dollars. These are ideal things to ‘buy’ so your delegates can browse around the markets and maybe buy their own dinner!
Monday morning was a VERY early start as we had a 0700 flight back to Melbourne. Tired but very happy to have seen what the Top End has to offer!"