Things just don’t stop in the Northern Territory’s Top End, with plenty of new product, upgrades, and exciting projects in various stages of development.

Good news for the meetings and incentive travel market is that much of what has been happening in recent times in the Top End is great news for the sector.

Darwin CBD hotel portfolio grows

With the new 186-room H Hotel in Darwin only recently opened comes news that another accommodation development is underway in the Darwin CBD.

The A$140 million élan Soho Suites is set to open in mid-2014 and will offer hotel rooms as well as stylish one and two-bedroom apartments and penthouse suites.

The property will feature Darwin’s first Korean BBQ restaurant, a bar and also a meeting and function space. It is expected that the new venue will have capacity for 170 guests in a banquet setting or 290 delegates theatre-style.

As with all properties in the compact Darwin CBD, the new hotel will be just a short stroll from the Darwin Convention Centre and the Waterfront Precinct, as well as Darwin’s dining, entertainment and night-life hub.

On the Waterfront

The second stage of development of the Darwin Waterfront Precinct is now underway. Another 1300 residential apartments, mixed-use commercial and retail suites, a marina, promenades, boardwalks and parklands will be included.

The Charles Darwin University and The Toga Group, with the support of the Northern Territory Government, have partnered to develop a tertiary business and hospitality facility at the precinct.

It is expected to open in 2014. The Waterfront Precinct is just a short walk from the heart of the city and is already home to the award-winning 1500 seat Darwin Convention Centre, the Adina and Vibe hotels, a range of cafes, restaurants and bars plus wave and recreation lagoons.

… and at SKYCITY Darwin

SKYCITY Darwin has recently won a prestigious national award in the category of ‘Best Redeveloped Hotel Accommodation’ at the Australian Hotels Association Awards for Excellence. The property was selected from an impressive national line-up of contenders, which included Royal on the Park in Brisbane, Parkroyal at Darling Harbour and the Rendezvous in Perth.

SKYCITY Darwin positioned itself as a new five-star player in the luxury accommodation market when it opened its $40 million tropical lagoon resort in July 2012. The resort, which includes 32 luxury guestrooms, two superior villas with private gaming suites, a swim up bar, restaurant and opulent Asian-style day spa, also fringes an enormous tropical lagoon swimmig pool with its own beach.

The establishment of the lagoon resort followed a $30 million development of new foreshore restaurants and bars at SKYCITY Darwin in 2010.

This award comes as SKYCITY Darwin has recently opened a new offsite venue called the ‘Beachside Pavilion’. This new permanent air-conditioned beachside structure, located on the SKYCITY Darwin lawns overlooking Mindil Beach, is an all-year, all-weather function facility catering for up to 500 guests, in a banquet-style format.

A glass wall and verandah opening out to the beachside provide the perfect venue from which to view spectacular Top End sunsets, before sitting down to dinner.


More awards for the NT At the airport

The Northern Territory Airports organisation has once again been recognised as operating some of the world’s best airports at the World Routes Awards staged recently in Las Vegas. These awards recognise excellence in airport marketing, with entries judged by global tourism and airport representatives.

The win, which encompassed both Alice Springs and Darwin Airports, was in the Under Four Million Passengers category, with NT defeating other airport contenders from Russia, Ireland, Tanzania and the Ukraine.

It was a fitting award with the NT having only recently hosted a very successful Australian Airports Association National Conference, which was held at the Darwin Convention Centre (DCC) in late September.

The conference’s original target of 400 delegates was exceeded, no doubt in part to the destination’s strong appeal and its increasing status as an important aviation hub.

Darwin continues to grow as an important international gateway to Asia, with the most recent addition being Malaysia Airlines, which commenced a direct service between Darwin and Kuala Lumpur on November 2. A 160-seat Boeing 737-800 is now providing four flights per week between the two destinations.

Malaysia Airlines joins Philippine Airways, AirAsia, SilkAir, Jetstar Asia and AirNorth in providing international services into Darwin.

Marketing initiatives showcase NT CSR opportunities

Recent NT marketing initiatives, both within the destination and elsewhere, have showcased just how easily and effectively CSR components can be factored into a Northern Territory event.

The Alice Stampede mega-famil held in Central Australia in mid-September gave participants a hands-on CSR experience when they visited the headquarters of Bindi, an Alice Springs-based cross-cultural organisation which provides employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.

Many hands made light work of painting Bindi’s mobile van, as well as its front pathway and a flagpole in the garden, with Stampeders happy in the knowledge they had provided Bindi with a fresh “facelift”. (See further details of Alice Stampede on pages 46 and 47).

On the NT Meetings Muster national roadshow which saw a number of NT industry operators visit Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, attendees were provided with a practical custom-made calico fabric backpack for carrying brochures picked up at the show.

These backpacks and their tailor-made artwork were also commissioned from Bindi. The NTCB and their 11 Meetings Muster partners also collectively donated $5000 to the Indigenous Eye Health Unit (IEHU), at the University of Melbourne, in lieu of distributing gifts to guests at the Muster events. The IEHU works with a range of partners to support the Northern Territory Government’s trachoma screening and treatment program, as well as its ‘Clean Faces and Strong Eyes’ awareness campaign. m