Australia’s very first AC Hotels by Marriott was introduced to the market in May with the opening of AC Hotel by Marriott Melbourne Southbank.
The 14th brand to enter Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio in Australia, AC by Marriott is a design-led lifestyle brand that originated in Spain in 2011 through a joint venture with renowned Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan.
The 205-room Southbank hotel is located near the South Wharf precinct – an area which is currently undergoing a major urban renewal project – and is owned by Melbourne-based mixed-use real estate developer and investment company Capital Alliance.
AC Hotel by Marriott Melbourne Southbank General Manager, Harry Singh, said the hotel benefits from being the sole player in this district.
“We’ve got the best of both worlds,” Singh told HM.
“We’ve got proximity (a three-minute-walk) to the Convention Centre, and we are 900 meters away from the South Melbourne market. The next hotel from here is in South Yarra, so we really want to own this area.”
Designed by DKO Architecture, the property features open and clutter-free layouts with sleek desks and open closets, reflecting the industrial warehouse style of South Melbourne.
Modern classic finishes are used throughout including natural stone tiling, textured timber, metal details, layers of drapery and brass accents.
Working in collaboration with DKO, Singh said the team has brought to life the core elements of the AC design philosophy – a hotel that has been thoughtfully designed for the lifestyle traveller.
“Every detail of the experience is meticulously over-thought to create a seamless stay,” Singh said.
“The design approach to every space is optimal comfort and utility through to modern decor, with open layouts offering functional beauty without distraction.
“The lifestyle traveller is looking for those really intuitive style spaces, and very intuitive service as well. The brand saying is, ‘We provide everything they need and nothing they don’t.’”
Among the concepts developed to anticipate guests every need is ‘Borrow Me’, which allows guests to borrow an item that they may have forgotten to pack such as a charger or cufflinks.
“We’ve got all the basics that you tend to forget, but then we’ve also worked on a lot of the other interesting things that you would love to have when you go to a hotel,” Singh told HM.
“You can borrow anything as from ties to cufflinks to a handbag or guitar. You can even borrow a peloton bike – we can set it up in the room.”
The hotel also offers over a dozen bicycles that guests can borrow to do local trails.
Thinking outside the box
The property’s food and beverage offering is run by Peter Rowland Group (PRG) – which is also behind retailer David Jones’ iconic Food Halls. It includes a Spanish-influenced dining experience, Sorolla, a freestanding bar, Triana Bar, which offers views of the city skyline, and pool bar, Bar de Buceo, which also offers drinks and light, alfresco style dining.
“The F&B offering is very different. It’s not your typical club sandwiches. We want to pay homage to our Spanish roots, so there is a lot of that Spanish influence,” Singh said.
AC by Marriott is a very ‘gin-centric’ brand and is working closely with local distillery Patient Wolf to design its own gin, which is available throughout the hotel and served in a custom glass by sculptural glass artist Adam Walmon.
“We’ve got these airline style carts – with shelves of gin, all combinations of tonics, garnishes and glassware – that go around the hotel every evening at 6pm offering a complimentary drink,” Singh explained.
Wellness is another important part of the hotel offering, with leisure facilities including an outdoor infinity pool spanning the width of the building and a 24-hour fitness centre with the latest fitness technology. There are also quiet spaces for guests to mediate and exercise.
“We’ve got this beautiful balcony where you can take a yoga mat to practice outside when the weather is beautiful,” Singh said.
The property has a variety of meeting and event spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows and collaborative spaces including the brand’s signature AC Lounge – a modern co-working space by day that transforms into a social hub offering European-style tapas by night.