Marriott International Area Vice President Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, Sean Hunt.

Congratulations on opening your first newbuild Marriott in Australia in 20 years. You now have one Marriott in Docklands and another in the CBD. How would you like the two hotels to stand out from each other?

First and foremost, one is in the CBD and the second is in Docklands and they’re not big hotels. You put them both together and they’re still not as big as the Marriott in Sydney.

We always look at a market in its entirety so I’ll give you the quick numbers. This is a 189 room and suite brand new Marriott on brand in the docklands. It’s a resort style corporate hotel. It has a rooftop infinity pool. It’s going to have an exclusive M Club which is the new on-brand Executive Lounge. It’s got a rooftop infinity pool which overlooks the whole of the docklands and it looks superb with a rooftop bar. It has everything a five star hotel should.

We are partnering with the Peter Rowland Group to provide our food and beverage solutions. So the restaurant is called Archers and we’re also partnering with our owner’s company. Mohan Du is his name. But Mohan is the owner and he owns Peter Rowland Group as well and Peter Rowland Group provides the culinary experience in Archers.

Marriott prized Docklands location
The rooftop pool at Melbourne Marriott Docklands.

As a newbuild, the hotel features the latest in design and sustainability. What can you tell me about some of those sustainable elements?

Everything has been built to the latest code. Everything from intelligent business management, hotel management systems or PMS, property management systems. So when guests leave the rooms, everything cuts off. It’s very power and utility efficient.

I know that General Manager Girish Talreja has ensured that right through the guest experience, sustainability is front of mind with everything from organic food through Peter Rowland Group through to the waste management system of the hotel is state-of-the-art. We are recycling everything and we’re actually removing plastics. And in lieu of that, having glass and recyclable straws, everything is made from recyclable materials. So it’s a very green conscious property.

Marriott Docklands Melbourne’s opening GM, Girish Talreja.

How vocal has Marriott’s loyal customer base been, especially those in the upper tiers of Marriott Bonvoy, about bringing the M Club concept to Australia?

Everyone is eligible to use the club providing they pay the executive room premiums so anyone at any level, doesn’t have to be a Marriott Bonvoy member, can use the M Club lounge and obviously it comes with a price but that gives you 24 hour access. We have a chef cooking fresh food at the front, a fully serviced bar, serving champagne, wine and cocktails and throughout the day we put everything out from daily breakfast, light lunches and afternoon tea. Anyone can access the lounge and it’s a huge lounge. It has an indoor outdoor alfresco area as well. It’s probably oversized for the size of the hotel, so it’s very generous with space.

Hunt on Melbourne Marriott
A rendering of the M Club lounge at Melbourne Marriott Docklands.

In Victoria, you’ve got the W Melbourne barely a year old. You’ve got AC by Marriott opening in March, three Courtyards in the pipeline. You clearly see a lot of growth potential in the state.

We’ve got we’ve got 12 hotels in Melbourne. Five opening in the next six months. AC by Marriott Melbourne, Le Meridien Melbourne. Then we’ve got the Ritz Carlton Melbourne, you check in on the 80th floor, the Moxy Melbourne South Yarra, Courtyard Melbourne Flagstaff Gardens, which opens in March next year. So they’re all different brands, all different price points.

I think the business is going to come. There’s a lot of pent up demand, people want to travel and we’ve seen that in our resorts. The leisure forward bookings are incredibly strong and I’m not talking since COVID, I’m talking pre-COVID.

So I think we’re going to see a very very strong recovery in all markets providing borders stay open.