How has The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts handled very different COVID-19 experiences across two different countries, with different methods for handling the pandemic?
As a group we tasked ourselves to become leaders in enhanced health and safety protocols and invested significantly in this area – especially in the adoption of professional-grade sanitation technology and equipment. Our teams in both Singapore and Sydney continue to receive the highest levels of ongoing training to effectively monitor and maintain our stringent protocols – including the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Infection Control Training and hygiene and health certification. While the pandemic presents many challenges, it also presents an opportunity to innovate and explore new ways to engage with our guests in Singapore and in Sydney.
What we do see in both countries is a strong desire to travel when the time is right and a strong interest in luxury experiences. With each phase of travel restrictions easing we have seem demand for our staycation packages which offer guests an opportunity to stay in a safe and inspired setting.
What new innovations has The Fullerton Hotel Sydney put in place across its hotels during the travel slowdown?
The F&B industry is undergoing a renaissance as a result of COVID-19, and we hope to be leaders in this new environment. We tasked our food and beverage team to get even more creative; to craft new menus and culinary concepts that could be available through delivery and takeaway and updated menus within our dining venues to ensure a safe and inspiring meal experience. This included the launch of food delivery through Uber Eats, and our new dine-in and takeaway Fullerton artisanal Cakes and Signature Cookies line, and a Gin Parlour concept at The Bar offering over 130 gins from around the world.
The pandemic also presented us with the opportunity to fast track the completion of the remediation programme on the façade of the GPO heritage building – with the final phase earmarked for completion in January 2021.
What sort of guest response has there been to the enhanced heritage tours and what changes have been made to them to comply with COVID guidelines?
Our Heritage Tours which launched in November 2019 have received an overwhelmingly positive response from both Hotel guests and the general public, and bookings have remained consistent. Pre-pandemic, our heritage tours welcomed up to 15 people per tour to ensure a personalised experience. Currently, each session is limited to six participants, and our tour guides and guests are required to wear surgical masks while participating in our heritage tours.
In early 2021, the heritage tours will be enhanced to include access to Sydney’s tank stream, located on the lower ground level of the hotel. The tank stream was an important feature of early colonisation and public access has been limited. Viewing of the tank stream will be incorporated into our 90-minute complimentary tours, which are available on Fridays and Saturdays to both hotel guests and the general public.
How has the Staycation market performed for the hotel during the pandemic?
Demand for luxury and experiential travel is evident, and we are well positioned to meet this, bundling special experiences into a number of staycation packages to cater for this demand. We are seeing strong demand from Sydneysiders as well as increased interest from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and regional NSW. The Fullerton Hotel Sydney offers a holistic value proposition with our strong focus on safety and hygiene together with a variety of room packages to suit every need, including families, couples and corporates.
With each phase of travel restrictions easing, we have seen a strong uplift in staycation business with weekends and holiday periods being the strongest. We anticipate this to grow even more as restrictions on dining and events continue to ease, attracting more people back to the CBD for end of year celebrations.
Is the hotel seeing any recovery in the corporate market and its weekday performance?
With over 2,400 sqm of event space including two spectacular ballrooms, the recent increase to event capacities to meetings and weddings is very encouraging. We have captured a number of short-lead events for the remainder of the year with customers seeking a safe, flexible and inspired meeting experience that is able to accommodate the revised restrictions of up to 300 people while abiding to the four square-metre rule. We also have a strong pipeline well into 2022 with customers gaining more confidence with the easing of the recent restrictions.
The corporate market is still hindered by the internal and international border restrictions however we know our customers are eager to travel and connect with their staff and clients and expect to see progress here as soon as the borders are open between NSW and Victoria, one of our strongest supporting markets.
Recently, the school holiday period delivered stronger than anticipated booking levels, and bookings for the New Year’s Eve period are starting to gain traction with the recent announcements of the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks to proceed. As people are regaining confidence to travel again, and the reopening of borders appears imminent, we stand ready to welcome guests and look forward to creating Fullerton memories with them.