In just two months, Qantas Airways will launch the first ever regular flight service directly from the UK to Australia. Travelling almost 14,500km, the 17 hour flight will depart from Heathrow to Perth and then arrive into Melbourne 4 hours later. This new flight path will not only attract more tourism to the Australian cities but also group travel and business with a flight schedule of 14 times a week.
Qantas Airways will launch their direct flight on the 25th March 2018, yet the airline also has their sights set on the next stage of direct routes, ultra long-haul. Their plan ‘Project Sunrise’ aims to provide regular services between London and Sydney, Brisbane and Paris, and Melbourne and New York by 2022.
With this exciting new step in airline travel, we look at what these newly accessible Australian cities have to offer the MICE industry.
The capital of Western Australia has risen in the ranks of places to go in recent years. A cosmopolitan business district gives it a big-city name yet surrounding the skyscrapers are 19 beaches, an urban waterfront and laidback art scenes which are continually refreshed with culinary pop-ups and bars.
An influx of hotels have opened in the city, created a wealth of choice for incentives and events. The overtly luxurious Crown Towers set a new standard of indulgence in 2016 and continues to wow guests with its panoramic views and renowned service. 500 rooms and villas are complimented by expansive lagoon pools, private cabanas and an exclusive 15th storey lounge as well as 9 restaurants and bars including the resort’s very own Nobu. And the event space continues to impress with 3 decadent ballrooms, stylish function rooms and a multi-purpose structure for large-scale events.
Additional hotels include the recently opened Intercontinental Perth City Centre whose dedicated floor of Gallery Meeting Suites brings a brand new environment for business events to the capital. COMO’s The Treasury invites a more boutique clientele to its 48 bedroom renovated state building with excellent private dining in top-rated POST, whilst the Alex Hotel serves hip meeting rooms with homely comforts. Yet the Starwood’s Aloft is a modernised opening that really does have it all, spoiling guests with river panoramas from 224 guestrooms and a rooftop event space.
Outside the hotels, a varied programme of activities and host of venues welcomes groups including Ku De Ta, an 850 capacity bar and restaurant with sunset river views. Or head to Print Hall with groups of up to 900, a striking building that reinvented a former print house into a four storey flexible space.
Perth is further known as one of Australia’s top craft beer scenes so naturally a tour and tasting at a local brewery is a must for events. Swan Valley is where you’ll find award-winning Feral Brewing Company whose brewpub and restaurant is available for private hire for up to 80. Or located by Elizabeth Quay is Northbridge Brewing Company with a beer garden, tank bar and Skydeck available for events.
Surrounding the central city of Perth is where groups will find a scenic itinerary from water sports to fishing and cycle tracks to forest hikes. However the most memorable of experiences can be found in the nearby national parks and ocean waters where sea lions, whales, penguins and kangaroos can be found. Various tours and cruises are available for groups to discover these wildlife and natural wonders.
Voted the world’s most liveable city 6 times in a row, Melbourne is an attractive destination to say the least. Known as the creative capital of Victoria, the city boasts some of the best restaurants on the planet as well as a phenomenal diverse range of culture and events.
Melbourne has much to offer business travel with an array of hotels and venues capable of hosting groups of any size. The 5 star Grand Hyatt is the city’s classic on the prestigious Collins Street with 550 guestrooms and 15 meeting rooms on their own dedicated floor. Along this grand road is where many hotels are set to open in the next few years including a Mandarin Oriental within a 185 metre tower in 2023 and the W Hotel brand’s second Australian property in 2020 that will have over 1200sqm of event space.
Further classic hotels include the timeless Langham with skyline views along the Southbank and the Intercontinental Rialto which boasts contemporary grandeur and is one of Australia’s greenest buildings.
The streets of Melbourne vary in style from the artistic strip, Gertrude Street, known for its vintage fashion and galleries, to The Docklands, a modern harbour home to the Etihad Stadium and recognisable Observation Wheel which offers 360 degree views from private cabins.
The capital is also known for its famed café culture, cocktail scene and food markets. A variety of tours grant groups an exclusive experience including a tasting of Queen Victoria Market and a tour from Blender Studios who host graffiti workshops after showing groups the best of Melbourne’s street art.
For those wanting to get outdoors, the Twelve Apostles are a must, with helicopter tours delivering VIP experiences for groups. The Victorian capital is also surrounded by fine wine regions that each invite visitors to have a hands-on experience, whether it be stomping grapes, blending wines or of course, tasting the produce. Within an hour’s drive, groups can reach Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula which are both home to some of Australia’s best wineries including TarraWarra Estate and Giant Steps. Oakridge Estate is another must visit not just for its wines but also for its exclusive experience with chef Matt Stone where guests can join in a pickling masterclass, eat a farm-to-table served lunch and enjoy a wine pairing session with winemaker David Bicknell.
Back in the city, an evening is well spent exploring Melbourne’s Laneways, where the sound of live jazz and scent of the latest foodie pop-up escapes up to rooftop bars. A quick turn down Malthouse Lane is Eau-De-Vie, a speakeasy bar that offers a 5 course cocktail menu for groups of 40 in their private Whisky Room or up to 150 on an exclusive basis.
Following drinks, a taste of the city’s celebrated food culture is a must. As a history of migrants settled in the city from across the globe, they brought their flavours with them and opened the doors to a world of cuisines and celebrated chefs. Upscale Italian is served at one of Melbourne’s oldest institutions, Grossi Florentino, whilst a more modern take on fine dining is found at Cutler and Co where seasonal menus are served in an old metal works factory. Of course for the most memorable of occasions, groups are welcomed at Attica, whose ranking on the world’s best 50 restaurants pays homage to the truly fantastic Australian cuisine. For large groups, Captain Baxter on St Kilda Beach offers nautical themed space along their terrace for up to 100 whilst a gala at the National Gallery of Victoria seats 750 under one of the world’s largest stained glass windows in the Great Hall.