The Novotel Melbourne South Wharf Hotel
The experience you want to have
Business View Oceania interviews Tim Cannon, General Manager of Novotel Melbourne South Wharf, for our focus on Hotels & Hospitality in Australia
The Novotel Melbourne South Wharf is more than a four-star hotel. Standing in the historic South Wharf promenade, they don’t just provide a place to stay, they welcome you with an experience. One that includes world-class dining and exceptional amenities housed within a triumph of contemporary architecture. Construction on the hotel began in 2016, as an extension of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC), the Southern Hemisphere’s largest meeting place, and was completed in the spring of 2018. Designed by one of Australia’s leading architecture firms, Woods Bagot, the hotel’s structure includes a 26-storey golden tower with 347 rooms and suites, all of which include complimentary high-speed internet and Chromecast. Guests also enjoy access to a full fitness centre that operates 24 hours per day, and the hotel is within walking distance to renowned destinations that include Marvel Stadium and Southern Cross Station.
“It’s the small things that make a difference,” says General Manager Tim Cannon. “The rooms are really well thought out, there are USB charging points next to the bed, we’ve got wonderful views and great blackout curtains so that people can get a great night’s sleep. Everything has a purpose and everything is functional, it’s very cleverly designed. The opening has been very successful for both our owners, Action Hotels as well as the Accor brand. The building itself, as well as the expansion of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, has been a fantastic addition to the South Wharf precinct and to Melbourne.” Action Hotel Company (AHC) is a leading developer that also owns three other hotels in Australia. They were established in 2005 and operate 14 hotels, comprising around 2500 rooms throughout the Middle East and Australia. The MCEC is a separate entity from the hotel, but through the building and expansion there is now direct internal access between the hotel and the convention centre.
Cannon holds the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in high regard, recognizing the importance of the partnership between both companies. “We work closely with the MCEC, as well as a number of other partners in the area, including the Melbourne Convention Bureau. Together, we really drive Melbourne as a destination, first and foremost, as well as the precinct of South Wharf; to really make sure we deliver exceptional services and the proper Melbourne experience for our guests, both domestically and internationally. As one of the largest hotels in the precinct, we’re fortunate to be able to work across different market segments and foster close relationships with our key partners – whether that be groups from conferencing partners utilising the MCEC or corporate partners that come to do business here in Melbourne. We’re in a unique location where everything is at your fingertips. For instance, the Australian Open was held just a short walk from the hotel.”
The Novotel Melbourne South Wharf is also close to Marvel Stadium, which serves as an entertainment stadium, as well as the home venue for five Australian Football League teams. Cannon notes, “We’re really lucky to be able to diversify into lots of different markets, we’re not reliant on one segment. People can just grab a train, catch a taxi, or even access our cruise ship terminal from the hotel.”
Director of Sales & Marketing for Novotel Melbourne South Wharf, Ali Capp, acknowledges that the hotel’s location on the cusp of Melbourne and next to main access points, including the airport, has been integral to their early success and allows them to offer something unique to their guests. She notes, “When our corporate and international clients come through, we’re able to give them a good understanding of the gateway to Melbourne.” Catering to diverse clients also drives the hotel to push the boundaries of exceptional service and offer an experience that sets them apart from others in the hospitality industry.
“We have our Allora Cafe & Lounge located in the lobby, and the concept behind that is delivering the true Melbourne cafe experience in the morning,” says Cannon. “We have fantastic coffee and amazing baristas, so you can stay at the hotel and still gain that experience… Melbourne is really well known for its coffee culture. I’m originally from Sydney, and there’s always a bit of friendly rivalry between the two cities regarding our coffee, but our coffee is exceptional. We use a local roast in our cafe because it’s about providing that authentic Melbourne cafe experience. In the evening, the cafe transitions into a lounge bar and we provide really wonderful cocktails from our fantastic mixologists. One of our signatures is a smoked Negroni, and that, paired with our Aperol Spritz, really complements the Italian dining concept we run throughout the hotel.”
The sixth level is home to the hotel’s signature restaurant, “Mr. Carpano.” It’s named after the world-renowned herbalist and distiller, Antonio Benedetto Carpano from Turin, Italy, who is perhaps most famous for having invented Vermouth and consequently, the aperitif. “Melbourne is well known for its Italian cuisine,” says Cannon, “we’ve got a modern twist on it, but it all stems from that background of Mr. Carpano.” Capp adds, “We make sure that our wine offerings and cocktails encompass the theme and experience so that we can take our guests on a journey.” Family-owned DeBortoli Wines is a valuable part of that journey, providing the hotel with a fine range of favourite wines from the DeBortoli vineyards across Australia.
In addition to their exceptional amenities, the Novotel Melbourne South Wharf has also placed a great emphasis on being environmentally friendly. “Green initiatives are something that we’re passionate about,” says Cannon, “and it’s driven from both our front line and our management team. We’ve got glazed windows throughout the hotel, but we also have other unique features, including an herb and vegetable garden on the rooftop that we utilise. We’ve also incorporated a composting unit; the team really has really supported and gotten behind that.” One of the hotel’s key partners is a water bottle supplier – Just Water. They provide sustainable packaging made from plant-based plastics and paper that is also recyclable. And all single use plastics have been removed from the hotel’s kitchens to reduce the impact on the environment.
Even with having a geographically coveted location, world-class dining and a sleek modern building, both Cannon and Capp emphasize the biggest factor that sets them apart from their competitors, is the staff of 150 that work at the hotel. “They’re our greatest asset,” says Cannon, “they really do genuinely provide service from the heart and that’s reflective in the feedback we get from our guests. Our staff are front and center, it’s about being attentive to our guest’s perspective… the warm welcome they get when they arrive at the hotel.”
The culture makes Novotel Melbourne South Wharf both a fantastic place to work, as well as a fantastic place to stay. Cannon admits, “It benefits everyone around here, we have an amazing team. People get to experience that Australian friendliness, and we have some real characters on our staff, but they provide genuine heartfelt service. They love coming to work here, they love meeting our guests, they love welcoming people from all around the world and getting to know them, that’s what I’m proudest of, the culture that our team has with one another and our guests. We’re really fortunate to have that and it allows us to provide the best hospitality. We’ve had a fantastic start to the first two years, and the next five we’re going to focus on furthering our growth in the market and working with our partners to ensure that our precinct is a premier travel destination.”
Summing up what makes Novotel Melbourne South Wharf so special, Capp shares, “Our staff are passionate and dedicated and it shines through onto guests. We provide the experiences that make our valued guests want to come back to us.”
AT A GLANCE
Novotel Melbourne South Wharf
What: Exceptional four-star hotel
Where: Historic South Wharf promenade, Melbourne