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Surprises at every turn of MCB’s AIME media famil

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Surprises at every turn of MCB’s AIME media famil
From a beyond luxury bus to unexpected new spaces at Marvel Stadium and the gentle wonder of BBC Earth, Melbourne Convention Bureau’s (MCB) Uncover Melbourne experience revealed new depth to a former Melbourne local.

As a now-seasoned attendee of MCB’s yearly media famil preceding the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME), this year’s outing provided perhaps the best showcase yet of the place where I grew up.

Luxcoach was the first surprise of the day.

Inspecting the itinerary beforehand, I had wondered why we were taking transport from the new Dorsett Hotel to Marvel Stadium when the two are practically neighbours.

This is the first time travelling by coach had been an experience unto itself. It turns out, there are luxury coaches and then there is Luxcoach – a relatively new edition to Melbourne’s business events offering – which presents much more like a late-night lounge than a bus.

Suited and booted for 20 people, the majority of rounded, lounge-like leather seating is at the back of the bus, facing inwards so everyone can see each other and out the windows. A large bar takes up most of the bus’s middle. We sipped mimosas at 11am and got acquainted – or reacquainted – with the rest of the media contingent. The vehicle functions both as an entirely new way to get around the city or to attractions further afield and as a good icebreaker for a group, from a pure unexpected spectacle perspective and because of the layout of the interior. There are no forward-facing rows of seats here – although there are seatbelts if you want them.

Surprises at every turn of MCB’s AIME media famil
The interior of Luxcoach

Next stop was Marvel Stadium, venue of last year’s – and my favourite, to date – AIME Welcome Event. With the stadium’s $225 million redevelopment complete, we were treated to a first experience of the new and enhanced offering within the stadium footprint.

Possible event spaces within the stadium are many, with capacity to take significantly large groups in some and host more intimate gatherings in others.

From 10,000 on the pitch cocktail style to the Champagne bar for 100 or the Diamond Club for a banquet of 30, there’s plenty to choose from.

The three standout spaces we visited included the two new hero business events spaces – the Horizon Room and the Skyline Room – and the outdoor terrace bar of the Medallion Club.

The full Medallion Club is a sizeable space which can be hired exclusively for up to 2,000 cocktail or 550 in banquet. The interior space looks out onto the field of play, while the outdoor terrace is a stunning reminder of Marvel Stadium’s orientation in Melbourne, looking out onto the water of Victoria Harbour in Docklands. Facing away from the bustle of the CBD, the space provides a peaceful and unexpected spot for networking or a more formal lunch for a smaller group. We were there at midday and the terrace was sun drenched.

The Horizon Room and the Skyline Rooms can host 250 pax and 200 pax respectively for banquets are two of the new spaces added in the $225 million redevelopment. Both rooms offer high ceilings and floor to ceiling glass offering views back onto Melbourne’s skyscrapers. We had lunch in the Skyline Room on a long table maximising the city view. The impact was spectacular.

Surprises at every turn of MCB’s AIME media famil
The Champagne Bar at Marvel Stadium

And gone are the days of stadiums being purveyors of, primarily, hot dogs and hot chips.

Marvel Stadium has a two-hatted restaurant onsite, Lee Ho Fook, a second location for the restaurant in addition to its original home off Flinders Lane. At Marvel Stadium, the restaurant can host groups of up to 300 cocktail.

At our lunch we met Peter Gunn, former sous chef at Melbourne’s most critically acclaimed restaurant, Attica, and now owner of Ides, an ultra-boutique two-hatted establishment in Melbourne’s inner-city Collingwood. Delaware North, which handles the catering at Marvel Stadium has formed a partnership with Gunn to bring more of Melbourne’s enviable dining scene into the stadium. Gunn oversaw our lunch menu and his culinary eye didn’t disappoint, from the smoked wagyu fat butter on our honey and flaxseed sourdough to our roast wagyu short rib and the black box dessert surprise.

General manager of Marvel Stadium, Scott Fitzgerald, told micenet both the Skyline and Horizon Rooms and the stadium’s rooftop terrace had “already gained much attention and traction [for business events] with the calendar quickly filling for events to occur across these spaces”.

“The stadium redevelopment has already seen an uplift in interest for events considering Melbourne as their location which will no doubt have significant effect in growing the local economy over the course of the coming years,” said Fitzgerald.

“The addition of a six new premium event spaces, an elevated food and beverage offering, and state of art digital assets places Marvel Stadium in a position of competition with that of five-star hotels and purpose-built conference centres.”

It’s a first of its kind to be offered by a stadium within Australia, he believes.

As flagged by the state government earlier this year, there is more development planned around the Marvel Stadium precinct, with a joint venture agreement signed between Development Victoria and the AFL which operates Marvel Stadium.

The development centres around two sites on the Docklands side of the precinct, 140 and 160 Harbour Esplanade. The AFL is already based at the former while the state government acquired the leasehold on the latter – currently occupied by Channel 7 – in 2018.

According to government media statements, developments of these sites could include “housing, commercial and entertainment”.

“There’s a massive opportunity to help bring Harbour Esplanade to life through added density along the water-facing side of Marvel Stadium,” said Fitzgerald.

“The likelihood of these developments materialising depends on various factors, including financial feasibility, regulatory approvals, and market demand – so a timeline cannot be provided at this stage,” he told us.

Returning to the cusp of AIME, we wrapped up the day at BBC Earth at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), a towering immersion into our planet, across all seven continents, narrated by David Attenborough.

The experience, which had its run extended, was both surprisingly awe-inspiring and relaxing. Although BBC Earth’s run is ending next week, the experience proves Melbourne’s – and the venue’s – appetite to bring these kinds of experiences to the city, which, like THE LUME, also at MCEC, deliver unique opportunities for groups and business events.

Surprises at every turn of MCB’s AIME media famil

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