Having worked in a diverse range of roles from being a primary school teacher to a police officer and an overseas gig at an Austrian ski resort, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s general manager, Greg Brady has met a wide range of people in a wide range of industries. These experiences have provided a range of learnings and an adaptability that’s carried through to the hotel itself.
“I suppose the learnings that I always go back to are from my teaching,” says Brady.
“Primary school teaching taught me to understand that everyone’s different. Every child is motivated differently.”
It’s a lesson he says, that he’s carried with him in adapting to different clients and teams along the way. And while the global Sofitel brand is synonymous with luxury, it doesn’t mean it’s rigid.
Brady calls the French-influenced brand, one with soul that’s also service-oriented. “I think if anyone knows this hotel, and knows Sofitel as a brand, they know it’s certainly focused on delivering luxury,” he says.
“The thing that many planners might not know is that they can, in fact, take out the whole space,” he says, referring to the entirety of their meetings and events spaces on level one of the hotel. “Which means that companies can contract the whole space and own it and brand it according to whatever they want.”
Brady says that everything from branding the event spaces to lighting up the building’s exterior in corporate colours, can be done. Exclusive use of level one has also proved popular with a large production house recently using the space to shoot a US TV show.
“We are adaptable to any sort of request we get; we pride ourselves on being able to do virtually anything,” he says, adding, “I suppose we’re always trying to think ahead of the game, such as the significance and global focus on wellness that came out of the post-COVID era.” He cites this as one of their motivations to build their onsite spa.
“Our spa has got some very unique products which are not readily available in the market. It’s really focused on wellness, so we’ve tried to build that right throughout the property, especially with our meetings and events offering.”
Brady says other unique additions to their events offering include their Champagne Bar complete with a sabrage service, where the top of the Champagne bottle is removed by a blade.
“No other hotels do [this], but it’s the French offering for the way we offer champagne. We can do it as a special event or for any MICE events.”
With the recent award of two Chef Hats in both the 2023 and 2024 Australian Good Food Guide awards, their onsite French-inspired Atelier translates to their business events menu as well. For smaller groups visiting mid-week, group restaurant bookings are also available.
“We’ve always had the vision to be a world-class hotel and when we opened seven years ago, we wanted to set ourselves apart from the Sydney market. So our vision was to be beyond what anyone else is or has been in Sydney. Our focus has always been on that luxury element that we bring to the table. And the delivery of that luxury offering. It’s a beautiful hotel and we’ve kept it that way through a really engaged workforce.”
They’ve also stayed ahead of the game with their environmental certifications with an internationally-recognised Green Globe™ accreditation announced in October last year, the first Sofitel hotel in the Pacific region to achieve this level of sustainability. With more than 380 compliance factors to achieve this standard, Brady says they’re incredibly proud of the achievement, particularly in its increased relevance to international delegates.
With the easing of flight pricing, Brady also confirms the slow return of international delegates.
“I think six months ago, we would still be a little bit concerned about the US market but as fares come down and things become more affordable out of the US, it’s going to be the market that is returning.
“We think 2024 looks really good with the bounce back of both domestic and international sectors and the interest in business events. A bit short-term still, but we’re really starting to get longer-term inquiries.
“The market fluctuates like that from short term to long term. But in general, we’re very confident 2024 is going to be a solid year.”