Fast forward to this week and Rydges Melbourne has re-emerged after an 18-month closure, effectively as a new 370-key city hotel with large meeting spaces, where the boot-scootin’ country vibe used to reign.
The brand itself a poster child of business ‘70s–style, the thirty-something Rydges Melbourne has lightened up, gone from bland to glam, with soft furnishings in softer hues. There’s even a fireplace to warm your buns in the very welcoming lobby.
The property has traditionally been popular with rural folks visiting the city for a night at the theatre and it is ideally positioned near Her Majesty’s in Exhibition Street. Today’s visitors will find the palate of soft hues has spread from the lobby through all rooms, including the popular and generously-sized apartments of 60m2.
Switching roles from regional general manager at EVT’s nearby QT Melbourne to general manager at Rydges, Lee Davey has overseen an injection of lifestyle into this Rydges, which was full for its official opening night this week. It was also full of conferencing, which was “a great start” since they began offering PCOs and meeting planners a sneak peek at the redevelopment in May.
Davey said the 1,500m2 meeting space can cater for up to 800 and includes a boardroom with 7m high ceilings. The main meeting room is divisible and has generous pre-event spaces. The hotel is also up for total buyouts for residential conferences.
It has the things delegates like: three room types – king standard, suites and apartments – a rooftop pool on level 22, a gym, long-stay options for business executives, two levels of meeting space and a modern Australian restaurant.
Clearly Davey and the staff are enthused at the transformation after such a long closure and they won’t be lamenting the past of this “solid four and a half star” property designed to endure the next phase of its life as a local Australian hotel marque.
“But we have had a few guests asking what happened to Bobby McGee’s,” Davey says.