Grand Hyatt Melbourne is doyen of the city’s Hyatt properties – it opened in 1986 as Hyatt on Collins, with Christian Le Prince as GM and front desk women wearing the most stunning Barbara Battaglia designer skirt suits in a colour almost as vivid as an Yves Klein blue. Today there is still a plethora of colour in this luxury hotel. The gal arrived to find a make-your-own pavlova kit waiting in her room (see the image above). It was easy to follow instructions to make what Melburnians, as well as New Zealanders, claim as their own, a concoction of meringue, cream, fruit and passion fruit syrup. You can see pavlova in many of this food-loving city’s patisseries, some in the lanes and arcades that are only a few minutes’ walk from this part of Collins Street.
Collins Street runs east from Docklands, past Southern Cross station and uphill to the chic Parisian part of town, finishing at Spring Street. This is all within Melbourne’s CBD, so trams here are free. Yes, within CBD the public transport is free. This is a city that knows how to sell itself (and for tourists who might need some assistance there are, at weekends, pairs of volunteers, in easy-to-see scarlet clothing, on street corners, ready to help). And visitors do come here for so many reasons. I could look down from my room, south to the Yarra River, with boat-houses side by side on the southern bank. Mornings, as the sun comes up, crews are always out there practising.
This is a city that could be renamed Activille, and it would fit. Robert Dawson, the GM of Park Hyatt Melbourne who also, in his role as Hyatt’s Man for Australia and New Zealand, oversees this hotel, asked Ilan Weill, GM of Grand Hyatt Melbourne, and me to lunch, and we heard how the sartorial Mr Dawson often cycles to work, 45 minutes each way, and then uses his hotel’s gym to recover. Live in Melbourne and you know how to take care of yourself, with fabulous food (and wine) and great outdoor activities, and indoor fitness centres. The gym at Grand Hyatt Melbourne, by the way, is enormous, one of those serious 24/7 LifeFitness places that must be a boon for the participants in the Australian Open, tennis’ first Grand Slam of every calendar year.
This luxury hotel is official host during that time and Ilan Weill and his team have to be nimble as ballet dancers turning on their points. They know they will be 100% every night during the tournament but with whom? Those players who are knocked out in morning games have to be out of their rooms by a set time early afternoon so the rooms can be turned round for other players to check in – all this requires precision timing by housekeeping and other staff. Away from the madness that is any major sporting event, I was able quietly to sit in the 547-room hotel’s 31st floor Grand Club, to spend more time looking down, from my left to right, from Melbourne Cricket Ground in Yarra Park, via the Rod Laver Arena, in Melbourne Park, and on round to the boat-houses, the National Gallery of Victoria (where the Virtuoso Symposium had its opening cocktail) and on to Southgate and the Crown complex. NOW SEE MORE OF SUITE 3110