is one of the few countries that avoided the global financial crisis of 2008 and
2009. But after years riding a wave of red-hot growth and expansion, the Australian economy is
starting to cool off as demand for its vast mineral resources tapers.
doesn't make Sydney any less desirable or
important for business travellers. Australia’s annual growth rate remains at a
respectable 2.6%, and the number of international business
travellers arriving in the country’s largest city grew by 0.6% in 2012,
according to Destination
NSW, the regional tourism board. And starting in December 2013, the Sydney
Convention and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour will close for massive 1.1
billion Australian dollar re-do, re-emerging in 2016 as the 20-hectare,
state-of-the-art International Convention Centre
to state government statistics, business travellers arriving in Sydney spent 6%
less in 2012 than in the heady days of 2011. Smaller travel budgets, declining
demand and a weaker Australian dollar mean that it is becoming easier for international
visitors to reserve a hotel room with a prized water view or to snag a table in
a top restaurant.
Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport,
located just 16km south of the Central Business District (CBD) remains busy. The
poorly connected domestic and international terminals can cause frustration for
transferring travellers, but airport officials have plans to improve the situation with roadway upgrades.
Plus, there is growing support for a proposed A$6 billion second airport at Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s far western suburbs,
which would help relieve the pressure at Kingsford Smith.
meantime, taxi is the easiest way to get between the airport and town (A$50). Airport Link trains depart from both international (A$16.70)
and domestic terminals (A$15.90) for the 20 to 30 minute trip to the CBD.
news on Sydney’s luxury hotel scene was the 2012 acquisition of the legendary
Observatory Hotel by Hong Kong’s rapidly expanding Langham Hospitality Group,
which promptly changed the hotel’s name to The Langham, Sydney. The group has plans for a “progressive refurbishment” of the elegant
Georgian-style, 96-room hotel, perched in the CBD on a quiet bluff above The
Rocks, the site of
Sydney’s original European settlement and now a popular historical district.
seemed like forever, the scaffolding came down and doors opened in March 2012 at
the completely rebuilt 155-room Park Hyatt Sydney, located on the water in The Rocks near the
ferry hub Circular Quay. Most rooms offer floor-to-ceiling
sliding glass doors leading to balconies that look out to the iconic Sydney Opera House, The Rocks and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but you’ll get stunning near-360-degree
views from the fourth storey suites or from the sexy rooftop pool deck.
The Darling is Sydney’s newest five-star hotel. The
171-room hotel at Darling Harbour, just west of the CBD, is part of a
massive A$870 million redevelopment of The Star, a glitzy mixed use development on Darling
Harbour that includes 20 restaurants, a casino, bars, cafes, clubs and high-end
retail stores. If you are looking to relax after a long journey – or just a
long day – ask for a room with an oversized bathtub that overlooks the harbour.
find a little of Sydney’s historic charm (think brick walls and exposed beams)
combined with contemporary design (bespoke furnishings, Australian art and walk-in
showers) at the 90-room 1888 Hotel Sydney in Pyrmont on the western edge of the CBD. The hotel
currently bills itself as the world’s first Instagram hotel, offering users
with more than 10,000 followers the opportunity to redeem a free night stay by
simply emailing their request to the hotel. There’s also a “selfie” space (a
large gilded frame) where guests can photograph themselves to post on social
networks. If jetlag has you up early, take in the action at the neighbouring Sydney Fish
largest in the southern hemisphere) with a fascinating 1.5-hour, behind-the-scenes tour that begins at 6:40 am.
For longer stays,
consider the newly opened five-star ADGE Apartment Hotel, a collection of two-bedroom, two-bath, open-plan apartments located in
the creative hub of Surry Hills on the southern fringe of the CBD. All guests
checking in get a complimentary “welcome tonic to restore the mind, body and
spirit” – which might be just what you need after a long-haul flight. If you’re
at the ADGE on the first Saturday of the month, don’t miss the popular Surry Hills Markets held at the nearby Shannon Reserve.
Nomad just opened its doors in Surry Hills and has been
an immediate hit among locals. This is where chef Nathan Sisi (recently
returned from a stint at Dinner, Heston
Blumenthal’s London restaurant) draws on the flavours of the Mediterranean,
using local Aussie ingredients along with techniques such as smoking, curing,
wood firing and pickling. Dishes are presented as small tapas or large sharing
portions – some recent plates include wood roasted pork with silverbeet and
Canary Island potatoes, or wood-fired clams and pipis with sherry and charred
For a taste
of contemporary French Mediterranean fare, check out the new Ananas
Bar & Brasserie
housed in a historic building in The Rocks. Enjoy a glass of Champagne, shucked-to-order
oysters and a full brasserie menu of classics such as steak tartar, seared
scallops, lobster ravioli and, of course, steak frites.
large Greek immigrant culture is well represented at The Apollo in
Potts Point, just east of the CBD, where you’ll find classic dishes such as
spanakopita (called “wild weed and cheese pie” on the menu); taramasalata (a
dip made with fish roe) served
with wood-fired pita; grilled octopus with chickpeas and cucumber; or slow
cooked lamb. For those dining alone, meals can be served at the marble-topped bar
on the edge of the elegantly minimalist dining room.
Off the clock
too much time in beige boardrooms? Jump on a westbound train and spend a day or
two in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, 90km west of Sydney. Even
though they were partially hit by bushfires in October, national park staff have
been reopening many tracks, trails and lookouts. Take in the views of ancient rock
formations like the famous Three Sisters from perches in the area,
such as Echo Point Lookout near
Katoomba, Govetts Leap at Blackheath, Hassans Walls at Lithgow and Kanangra-Boyd National Park.
If you feel
like staying overnight, check into the exquisite Lilienfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa or the plush-yet-conservation-minded five-star
Emirates Wolgon Valley Resort &
Spa (owned by the
same group that runs the Dubai-based airline).
really been to Australia if you haven’t spent some time relaxing in its pubs – many
of which include the word “hotel” in their name since they provided
accommodation in the early 20th Century (but only a handful do so
If you are
looking for the right spot for you and your colleagues, The Australian
Hospitality Association of New South Wales just nominated the 10
best pubs in Sydney according to The Australian newspaper. Those in or near
the CBD include the Clock Hotel (Surry Hills) The Establishment Hotel (part of a stylish
31-room hotel on George Street) and Le Pub (York Street).
Don’t do this
As the warm
summer months approach in the Antipodes, do not attempt to engage in serious
business on Friday afternoons. That’s when even the most seriously business-minded
Sydneysiders cannot resist the urge to have lunch (make reservations for 1pm)
and spend much of the afternoon soaking up the sun with friends and colleagues.