BY RODERICK EIME IN ADELAIDE
Adelaide, as anyone knows, is a quirky town. Established in 1836 by British free settlers, the city was beautifully designed and laid out by Colonel William Light with a foresight that South Australians enjoy to this day.
The quirkiness extends into numerous facets of Adelaide life and one of the most obvious is their extremes of architectural design. Early photos of the city show ornate Victorian and Edwardian buildings styled in rich, locally-hewn sandstone. Over the years many of these noble buildings have vanished, to be replaced by enormous glass, metal and marble monoliths of dubious aesthetic value. It is quite common to see surviving examples flanked by these “modern” monstrosities.
The centre of the city is Victoria Square, bordered by this awkward dichotomy of old and new, is presided over by some of the city’s best known classic buildings; the GPO, the courthouse, the former Moore’s department store and the old treasury building. In 2002 Toga Hospitality chose the Medina Serviced apartment brand to complete their total renovation of this very early, almost derelict Adelaide civic landmark, creating one of the most innovative and stylish serviced apartment projects anywhere. In 2004 it scooped the category at the HM Awards and garnered a UNESCO citation in 2003.
Finally I have the chance to experience this magnificent property, respectfully and tastefully restored right down to the original Premier’s Cabinet Room, courtyard garden and secret underground tunnels. Guided by long-serving reservations manager, Kasha Adams, newly installed GM, Ben Lancken and I tour the former corridors of power.
“We’ve had one or two guests ask to change rooms because of a spooky ‘presence’”, claims Kasha, “and there have also been tales of moving furniture, flying tools and noisy cocktail parties in vacant rooms.”
Many of the artefacts like coins, cans and cutlery uncovered during restoration work are displayed in cabinets.
As for future plans, I asked Toga Director of Brands and Communication, Lisa Phillips, about what Toga have in store for the Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury and the key to developing the unique customer experience.
“Over the past 12 months at Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury, we have continued to work hard on delighting each and every guest,” she says. “Our guests lie at the heart of everything we do and we have some wonderful initiatives in place to help us deliver a great experience, every time.
“A critical component to enhancing the guest experience is the ongoing training of our Team Members. A reflection of the strength of these systems can be seen at Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury though the high percentage of guests indicating they would recommend the hotel to friends and family and through positive reviews on key listening platforms such Trip Advisor.
“The guest experience has also been enhanced through the continuous upgrade of facilities throughout the hotel including the installation of brand new televisions throughout in 2010. We look forward to maintaining and improving on the strong performance of this hotel into 2011 and beyond.
“Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury is a beautiful hotel, a jewel in the Toga crown. One of our priorities when it comes to this hotel is to maintaining the integrity of the building, both inside and out, rather than making dramatic alterations due to its historical importance.
“In order to do so, we will continue to roll out an ongoing upkeep schedule whilst working with our interior design team to constantly find new ways to showcase the hidden treasures and unique features of this hotel,” she says.
Developments of this scale and integrity are rare in Australia, especially in a CBD, with other examples like the Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart and Rothbury On Ann in Brisbane some of the few worthy contemporaries in this category.
With business and meeting facilities, restaurant and bar plus unusual function space, Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury is a beacon of taste and style in a sometimes confused city.