New luxury hotels opening in Australia this year as tourism sector booms

The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne is one of several high-end hotels opening in Australia this year. Picture: Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne is one of several high-end hotels opening in Australia this year. Picture: Ritz-Carlton

Several new jaw-dropping luxury hotels are set to open this year as Australia’s tourism sector booms in the wake of crippling Covid restrictions and border closures.

One of the most anticipated launches is that of Capella Sydney – the first property in the country from the renowned international brand.

Housed in the heritage-listed building near Circular Quay that previously housed the Department of Education, the new hotel will begin welcoming guests from March.

“Capella Sydney is not just an ode to the city and Sydneysiders – it’s an open invitation for discerning travellers from all around the world to visit Australia and experience the magic of this place we call home,” Capella Sydney general manager Marc von Arnim said.

“The Capella brand is synonymous with luxury [and] excellence in the craft of hospitality and cultural immersion.

Capella Sydney is the global operator’s first foray into the Australian market. Picture: Capella Sydney

“Capella Sydney takes this to the next level through unparalleled heritage work, architecture and interior design, state-of-the-art wellness facilities, and transformative guest experiences that go above and beyond… underscored by world-class accommodation and dining.”

The sandstone building, which opened in 1915 and was designed by George McRae, responsible for some of the city’s best-known structures, has undergone an extensive restoration guided by Mark Architects.

Capella is housed in a heritage building near Circular Quay. Picture: Capella Sydney

It will feature 192 guestrooms and suites across eight levels, three food and beverage outlets, meeting and events spaces, and a wellness centre with a 20m indoor heated pool.

The imminent arrival of the high-end hotel signals a rapid recovery in the accommodation market and is a positive sign of things to come.

Potential flood of visitors boosting confidence

The hotel sector was understandably one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, but PropTrack economist Anne Flaherty said conditions have been steadily improving.

“Investor confidence in hotels rebounded last year and was one of the only property sectors to see more sales compared to 2021,” Ms Flaherty pointed out.

“Across Australia, the average revenue per available room has been steadily rising, and in some markets is now above pre-pandemic levels.”

The recent reopening of China – which had been shut-off from the world since early 2020 – is cause for optimism given the number of visitors to Australia each year, she said.

“Pre-Covid, China was the world’s largest source of outbound tourists. While the resumption of tourism from China is likely to take time, the country’s reopening will be a boost for Australia’s tourism sector over the coming years.”

Beijing Daxing International Airport is busy once again after resuming outbound overseas flight services. Picture: Getty

Short-term overseas visitor numbers across the board are trending upward but remain well below pre-Covid levels, indicating further room for growth.

“The fact that the sector is likely poised for further recovery is attracting investors. In a survey of investors based in Asia Pacific conducted by CBRE, 78% expected hotels to be priced at a discount.

“Two-thirds of investors surveyed also expected to see hotel values grow over the next three years,” Ms Flaherty said.

Global icon arriving in Melbourne

Another high-end hotel opening in the next few months is the Ritz-Carlton Melbourne, housed in one of four new towers comprising the West Side Place development.

Guests will travel via high-speed elevator to a ‘sky lobby’ on the 80th floor, sitting atop 257 rooms and suites all housed on level 65 and above, offering jaw-dropping views of the city.

Ritz-Carlton Melbourne will be the brand’s second property in Australia. Picture: Ritz-Carlton Melbourne

As well as a luxurious restaurant and bar, features include an indoor and heated infinity pool, a day spa, fitness centre, a deck, and a signature Club level.

“The opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne brings a new landmark to this great city,” hotel general manager Antony Page said.

“We look forward to unveiling this stunning property and to welcoming guests with the warm hospitality, refined ambiance, and the legendary service for which The Ritz-Carlton is renowned the world over.”

Luxury lodge like a phoenix rising

Three years after being destroyed during the Black Summer bushfires, the beloved Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island is set to rise from the ashes.

The new-look property, dubbed SOL 2.0, will open in the second half of the year, maintaining much of the original property’s footprint.

The original Southern Ocean Lodge was destroyed by bushfires but will soon live again. Picture: SOL 2.0

In the main building, guests will find a communal Great Room with suspended feature fireplace, a private dining space and walk-in cellar, a sun terrace, and infinity pool.

A standalone spa will house treatment rooms, a gym, a sauna, and hot and cold plunge pools.

Each of the 25 suites will offer stunning ocean, coast, and wilderness views, on top of the impeccable service that made South Ocean Lodge so well-regarded.

The lodge is expected to open in the second half of 2023. Picture: SOL 2.0

A signature ultra-premium suite will sit in a remote spot, featuring four bedrooms or two separate suites, a deck, and a plunge pool.

“The new lodge will once again be a champion of South Australian and Kangaroo Island suppliers of food and beverages, where a commitment to using exclusively local produce is a veritable boon to the regional economy,” the operators said.

New lease on life for beachside beauty

After a two-year, $30 million transformation, MGallery has unveiled Manly Pacific, a beachfront property in the famed Sydney suburb, comprising 213 rooms.

The interiors were crafted by high-end furniture retailer Coco Republic, blending coastal living with a soft and neutral palette.

The hotel also features a rooftop pool and bar, a sundeck, a lobby bar, and conference and events spaces.

Manly Pacific reopens after a two-year renovation. Picture: Manly Pacific

“We’re showcasing Manly’s creative community throughout the hotel, from displaying the works of local photographers to heroising local produce on our plates, and featuring artisan craft pieces throughout the property,” hotel general manager Dylan Cole said.

“At every touch point, we’ve considered the extra level of detail guests now expect from a great hotel experience, with a key focus on sustainability initiatives, such as smarter energy-saving room controls to electric car charging stations.

“We’ve brought a new level of sophistication to Manly without losing the quintessential way of life of the Northern Beaches, from its laid-back lifestyle and strong connection to the sea and wellbeing.”

Boutique hotel in sleepy seaside town

The picturesque town of Crescent Head on the NSW north coast, just 45 minutes from Port Macquarie, is preparing to welcome Sea Sea.

Described as “relaxed-luxe”, the boutique offering includes 25 rooms that fuse surf culture with high-end design and art.

The 1970s-inspired property is the brainchild of George Gorrow, co-founder of the fashion label Ksubi and Bali hotel The Slow, and wife Cisco Tschurtschenthaler.

Sea Sea is a boutique offering in the sleepy seaside town of Crescent Head. Picture: Sea Sea

“Crescent Head still feels like that place you visited as a child, still feels so pure,” Mr Gorrow said.

“I love surfing so does my wife and the wave is to us one of the best waves in Australia, it’s for everyone, super fun.

“The MacKay region is so rich in culture too. We will be partnering with local farms and producers to showcase the region. The old locally sourced, locally proceeded, sustainable, cliché you hear, is really what we will be doing. This excites us, it’s going back to basics.”

The property is due to begin welcoming guests from May.

High-profile hotel hits the market

It was announced last week that Sydney’s iconic InterContintental at Double Bay will come to market in February.

Current owns Fridcorp and the Piety Group is offloading the landmark property, which has hosted a number of stars in its time from Princess Diana to Sir Elton John.

CBRE and Colliers will manage an Expressions of Interest campaign, which is expected to generate plenty of local and international interest.

The InterContinental Double Bay will hit the market next month. Picture: InterContinental

Originally launched as the Ritz-Clarton in 1991, the 140-room hotel has been managed by IHG for the past eight years. It’s being offered with the potential for vacant possession.

Extensive improvements have been made over the years, including a reimagining of the bar and restaurant by Marice Terzini, the acclaimed restaurateur behind Icebergs in Bondi.

“In the medium term, and subject to council consent, the property provides the opportunity to be redeveloped into a premium mixed-use project comprising a hotel, residential apartments and retail,” Guillaume Volz, Colliers national director for residential, said.

“We anticipate very strong interest from a wide range of local and international developers and hotel owners.”