Sydney hotels are gearing up to host an influx of visitors for the city’s very first World Pride festival, which kicks off this Friday February 17 and runs through to March 5, 2023.
It will be the first World Pride to be held in the southern hemisphere and is expected to draw 500,000 attendees and 78,000 visitors to the city, bringing a welcome boost to occupancy rates.
A number of hotels are partaking in Pride festivities and hosting dedicated events and initiatives to make those celebrating feel welcome.
Ovolo Woolloomooloo brings the glam
Leading the charge is Ovolo Woolloomooloo which is introducing Drag Concierges, a Drag Recovery Brunch, and glam stations among its initiatives during the festival.
Guests will be welcomed by drag queens at reception at key times to keep them informed of the festivities, while the hotel’s historic staircase behind them will be adorned with a giant rainbow carpet.
The hotel will also feature a “lager-than-life” stiletto installation, and Ovolo’s signature Perk bag will also be Pride-themed for the duration of the festival.
“Ovolo hotels provide a safe space for everyone, where we build belonging, encourage diversity, and celebrate love in all its guises, so we are thrilled to support WorldPride and roll out the rainbow carpet for our guests throughout the festival,” said Ovolo Woolloomooloo General Manager, Kieron Hunt.
Ovolo the Valley Front Office Manager and drag entertainer, Joshua Collins – also known as The Thin Lizzi – will be on hand to lead the concierge queens.
Collins said Ovolo celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community all year-round, not just for Mardi Gras and WorldPride.
“This is a workplace where everyone is encouraged to come as they are, and we revel in our individuality,” he said.
“Everyone in the team is excited to fly the Pride flag and welcome our gorgeous guests from all across the rainbow spectrum.”
Through a partnership with Virgin Australia, aligning with its annual Pride Flight services, Ovolo will host an inaugural Pride Flight Recovery Brunch at Alibi Bar and Dining, featuring Absolut Vodka Bloody Mary Station, Dal Zotto Mimosa Station and Hydration Station and drag entertainment.
Free make-up touch-ups courtesy of MAC will also be available onsite From February 24-26.
IHG’s Kimpton and Crowne Plaza celebrate in style
IHG is rolling out a host of experiences at its hotels and resorts throughout February and March as part of its Pride How You Pride initiative.
Coinciding with WorldPride Sydney, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Auckland Pride Festival, the events are designed to reflect a culture of celebration and acceptance.
Kimpton Margot Sydney will be a sea of rainbows, live music and drag queens with disco brunch OUT at Margot’s, led by drag superstar Holly Would, taking over Luke’s Kitchen every Saturday until March 4. The brunch features a five-course set menu complete with Rainbow Pancakes and bottomless sparkling rose.
Meanwhile, Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach is hosting a three-course Drag Queen Bottomless Lunch featuring popular drag queens. Comedian and drag performer, Jackie Daniels, will host the bottomless lunch on February 18, while Coco Jumbo and Maxi Shield from RuPaul’s Drag Race will take over on February 25. The hotel has also designed a weekend accommodation package around the events.
Manly Pacific spotlights LGBTQIA+ community members
Fresh from its $30-million-dollar refurbishment, Manly Pacific is introducing a series of Pride events to its hotel spaces including a photography exhibition, drag bingo, pride-themed cocktails and music by DJ Queen Shirene.
The lobby exhibition will feature 12 portraits of the Sydney LGBTQIA+ community taken by award-winning photographer Richard Hedger. Narelda Jacobs, Joyce Maynge, Sexy Galexy,
Maxi Shield and runner-up of RuPaul’s Drag Race Hannah Conda are among those featured.
“Any opportunity to salute LGBTQIA+ people that impact the broader community is important and necessary in stating and reinforcing positive association whilst existing in our current social climate,” Hedger said.
“Furthermore, celebrating the people whose lives, work, talent, history and endeavours reach wide demographics is intrinsic to breaking down ill-informed misconceptions and works to empower the LGBTQIA+ generations to come.”
On Wednesdays between February 22 and March 1, Tokyo Joe will serve up Japanese fusion cuisine with a rainbow twist – think Pride Rice – alongside a drag bingo performance from Hi’ Carly.
The hotel will also offer paper crane tutorials with the colourful cranes hung next to the rooftop pool for the entire month as “an ode to honour, good fortune, loyalty and longevity”.
Hotel bar 55 North will be a place for celebration with vibrant cocktails and DJ performances.
“We’re very proud to celebrate and stand as allies with Australia’s brilliant and diverse LGBTQIA+ community,” said Manly Pacific General Manager, Dylan Cole.
“To add to or vibrant line-up of festivities, we will be showcasing all shades of the rainbow with hotel staff wearing rainbow bow ties and scarves.”
Elsewhere within Accor properties, Spice Trader Bar at the Porter House Hotel has introduced a dedicated Pride menu with colourful cocktails Prismatic Swizzle and Pinky-Fairy.
Marriott hotels roll out the pink carpet
Marriott International – which has a long-term partnership with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras through its W Hotels brand – is gearing up for Pride celebrations.
Marriott Bonvoy’s Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection; Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel Circular Quay; Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park; Four Points by Sheraton Sydney Central Park; and Courtyard by Marriott Sydney North Ryde will be “rolling out the pink carpet” to welcome guests from around the world to Sydney for the celebrations.
Rainbow florals will adorn the lobby and staircase at Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection, as well as Bar One, where live DJs will take to the decks on Friday and Saturday afternoons from February 17 to March 5.
The hotel’s Gantry restaurant will feature a themed cocktail menu and all tea and coffee orders will be accompanied with rainbow cookies.
Adina Surry Hills flies the rainbow flag
Adina Surry Hills is adding plenty of colour to its check-in experience, welcoming guests with a rainbow carpet leading to the reception desk. On arrival, guests can snap a selfie with feather boas, sequins, and colourful props provided.
MP Alex Greenwich joined TFE Hotels CEO Antony Ritch, Adina Surry Hills GM Ben Saxton, and Councillor Jess Scully in cutting a rainbow ribbon to mark the occasion.
“We recognise that, like all journeys of equality, it has been a long road for the LGBTQIA+ community. Their journey has led us to today… to a point where society sees joy in diversity and applauds it,” Ritch said.
“Sadly, that’s not the case everywhere and for everyone, and that serves as a reminder that, as a society, we cannot rest on our laurels. Today, our hotel teams in Sydney took great pride in celebrating the World Pride festival, the return of Mardi Gras to Oxford Street, and the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole… and where better to do that than at the foot of the rainbow here at Adina Surry Hills.”
Adina Surry Hills General Manager, Ben Saxton, said he looks forward to welcoming visitors from around Australia and overseas who are coming to Sydney to celebrate.
“We have this incredible worldwide event coming to our beautiful city, and what better opportunity to wave sayonara to the worst of the pandemic and welcome the world again with a big smile,” he said.
“As a proud gay CIS man, I am excited for the world to come together in my adopted hometown to celebrate inclusion, diversity and unity.”
The Star Sydney lights up for Pride
The Star Sydney is getting in the spirit of Pride with free drag performances, an exhibition from queer photographic artist Gerwyn Davies, and a colourful collaboration between Cherry Bar and Belvedere.
On Friday and Saturday nights during the festival, the hotel will welcome some of the biggest names in drag from across Australia and New Zealand including social media sensation Carla From Bankstown and Drag Race Down Under’s crowned jewel Kita Mean.
The party will continue at Cherry Bar where guests can enjoy colourful cocktails, courtesy of Belvedere, and DJ sessions, including Kita Mean’s first Australian gig on March 3.
Mustang’s photography and video exhibition exploring “the unruly narrative of an imaginary queer blockbuster” will be unveiled for the first time at the Michael Reid Art Bar.
The Star’s famed acrobatic aerial dance performance Aqualume will also light up the Grand Foyer at select times from Thursday to Sunday evenings with a World Pride-themed performance complete with lasers and cascading curtains of water.