Food & Wine Lifestyle Luxury Hotels Travel Wellness & Spas

Tennis, and Park Hyatt Melbourne

Roger Federer is a star

Oh dear, the gal is so sad that Roger Federer is packing his bags since he will not now be gracing the finals of the Australian Open (though she could not have tolerated the perfectly-mannered Swiss having, possibly, to face the unsmiling Scot, Andy Murray).

Anyway, it is also sad that he will not now be working out, discreetly and with no-one taking any notice of the guy-with-the-glasses, at the oh-so-stylish Park Hyatt Melbourne.

And whereas other players are chauffeured around town in Kia cars driven by volunteer tennis buffs, Federer drives himself.  As global ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, he always has a car waiting for him wherever.

Luxury hotel - Glass vase, one of the many exquisite artworks at Park Hyatt Melbourne

One of the many exquisite artworks at Park Hyatt Melbourne

This luxury hotel knows that when a star is out of the tournament, a bedroom becomes vacant, although commentators of the calibre of John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova obviously stay on through the finals.

And this is a hotel where one really wants to stay on.  Why?  It is discretion personified. In the buzz of Melbourne, around Collins and Swanston Streets, you would hardly know Park Hyatt Melbourne, ‘up there by St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Victoria Parliament buildings’, exists.

Even when you get to Parliament Place, the 20-floor sand-coloured building is partly shielded by bushy green trees.  You go into an enormous shiny lobby, with an oval cutout allowing you to look down into the lower lobby.

The main colouring is beige, and the shiny and soft burgundy marble of the flooring, inset with cream marble outlines of blood corpuscles.  Yes, that is right.  Local designer David Parsons has used themes of the human body throughout. Here you see a cream naked torso, with the soft lines of a baby on the formed body of a 20-ish woman.  Across the lower hallway is a metallic torso, twisted out of shape.  How a blue glass vase fits into the bodily association is too taxing for a young lady’s imagination (any ideas welcome!).

Tasmanian salmon amuse bouche at Park Hyatt Melboune

The kitchen sent over an 'amuse' of paper-thin Tasmanian salmon

Amazingly this is a hotel from the last century (well, 1999 vintage) but it seems ready for the rest of this… the 240 rooms come with soft natural colours, stone-coloured robes, yoga mats and local Aësop toiletries.

Diplomatic Suite 1662, which looks out over the main entrance and its turning circle, has, like 27 others, a working log-look fireplace, and reading material includes Nora Richter Geer’s Architecture Transformed: New Life for Old Buildings.

As you know, the girl likes hotels that assumes one’s reading intelligence. (And salutes any hotel that takes fitness seriously.  Here, you can run outside through Treasury Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens, and on to Melbourne Cricket Ground or even to the Rod Laver Arena, where all that tennis bashing is going on.

Or stay home and play tennis in the outdoor court here, or swim in the 75-foot indoor lap pool (best when it opens, at six a.m.) and use the LifeFitness gym, and recover with a Natura Bissé treatment.

Luxury restaurants - Roma tomato terrine at Radii, Park Hyatt Melboune

Roma tomato terrine

Time for nourishment after all this exercise.  Radii is an interesting restaurant as it is on so many levels the servers get their own exercise carrying dishes up and down one set of stairs and then another.  From the customers’ perspective it means wherever you sit you feel exclusive.

Tonight the amuse was paper-thin Huon salmon from Australia’s main salmon aquaculture company, on Tasmania (goodness knows why they called it after a large rugged peninsula on New Guinea, itself named after French explorer Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec).

The ordered appetizer starter, a Roma tomato terrine with basil seedlings and Haloumi cheese fritters, is followed by a Riverine grass-fed ribeye with thick-cut steak fries, wood-fired mushrooms with sherry butter and wilted spinach with nutmeg.

Luxury lifestile - Ultra-healthy breads are part of Park Hyatt Melbourne's breakfast buffet

Ultra-healthy bread on the breakfast buffet (the Berkel slicer in the background)

Riverine turns out to be an area of South Australia which specialises in crossing Angus bulls with Hereford cows. This all went incredibly well with a Rogues Lane 2005 Shiraz.

Now one of the many good things about Google is that you can immediately find out about what went down your throat.  It turns out that Eric and Pauline Dowker called their ten-acre vineyard in Victoria after their family address back in Suffolk, England.

One of the many lovely things about eating in Radii is that you can see it all being cooked.  There are two open kitchens, one for hot and one for cold preparations – the last has a big scarlet Berkel slicer (the last one I saw was in the wine and cheese cellar at Sofitel Santa Clara in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia).  The slicer is used at night, but at breakfast it is part of the display.

Huon salmon, Tasmania, Park Hyatt Melbourne

And yet more scrumptious Huon salmon to start a day.

Yes, at breakfast the entire presentation surfaces of both hot and cold kitchens become one big buffet.  The juices and breads were sensational, and the shiny stainless cafetière of good coffee reminded me of home. And, for salmon lovers, here was yet more Huon, smoked.

Yes, the body feels good after staying at Park Hyatt Melbourne.  As driver John said as he drove us away – in a BMW, fortunately – he feels good here, too.  He has done most things in his life, this entrepreneur, but now he has found his home.