By Caroline Gladstone

Gone are the cookie-cutter hotels of yore. Today a plethora of properties with innovative and quirky designs, be they re-imagined heritage sites or fanciful themed hotels, are there for the choosing.

Here’s a look at a few on the horizon.

A new luxury hotel and a rebranded icon will open in south-east Queensland in time for the Commonwealth Games, which begin on the Gold Coast on April 4.

The former Jupiter’s Casino and Resort, the 1980’s pyramid-shaped structure on man-made Broadbeach Island, has recently been rebranded The Star Gold Coast and is set to unveil a 17-storey tower housing ‘six-star’ accommodation. Operated by the Star Entertainment group, owners of the Sydney casino, the $345 million complex is touted as the most luxurious digs to grace the coast since the opulent Palazzo Versace opened in 2000 in time for the Olympics.

W Hotels is also making big claims, boasting its new riverside property to be revealed in March is the most lavish to open in the Queensland capital for two decades. Situated at Southbank, the 312-room W Brisbane, marks the return of the exclusive brand to Australia; W Hotels operated the heritage-listed Finger Wharf hotel at Woolloomooloo for a handful of years before they exited the scene in 2007. Famed for funky looks and hip inclusions, W Brisbane will sport a dramatic misshapen chrome atrium skylight and a courtyard pool area where morning smoothies and Aussie BBQ lunches will be served along with a refreshing dip.

Across the continent, Perth is witnessing a hotel boom with 15 new hotels, offering 2,300 beds, scheduled to open in the next four years.

The most exclusive is expected to be the Westin Perth, the first in the renowned chain. Located in the revitalised east end, in a newly-created precinct called Hibernian Place, the hotel is a combination of ground level heritage buildings, including the old Perth Post Office and historic Hibernian Hall, and a 28-level tower comprising 368 rooms and an infinity pool.

The quirky QT brand continues to expand, with the opening of a 184-room hotel in Perth early next year and another across the Tasman in Queenstown. Stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, along with the hotel’s eccentric sense of style, will be the drawcards of QT Queenstown, whose 69 rooms will feature the acclaimed QT gel bed (which promises ‘body conforming comfort’), Nespresso machines and seductive free-standing bathtubs.



Horse-lovers and punters should love the equine-themed hotel to open at the new $140 million Riverside Stables complex next to Sydney’s Warwick Farm Racecourse in March. Developed by the Inglis thoroughbred horse sales company, The William Inglis Hotel, branded a MGallery by Sofitel, will have 144 rooms and suites each named and themed after a champion racehorse sold by the family during its 122-year history. The large complex will also house 800 horse stables, built to replace those at the family’s Randwick Newmarket sales yard that was sold a few years ago, and a microbrewery.



Sport lovers of a different kind are expected to flock to another themed hotel half way around the world in the football and music mecca of Liverpool. While best known for the Beatles, the northern English city is home to two rival football clubs — Liverpool and Everton. The Dixie Dean Hotel, named after legendary Everton centre forward Ralph William ‘Dixie’ Dean is under construction in the late 19th century Jerome and Carlisle Buildings in a precinct to be christened the Football Quarter. It will include plenty of Dixie and Everton memorabilia, and be conveniently located across the road from the Shankly Hotel, another themed property named after famous Liverpool club manager, Bill Shankly.


Speaking of themes, the just-opened Titanic in Belfast, may make a few travellers uneasy, however, it is bound to appeal to maritime types and fans of the 1997 hit disaster movie turned love story. Built at the former Harland & Wolff shipyards, which not only designed the ill-fated Titanic but also the transatlantic passenger liners Olympic and Britannic, it is part of a complex that includes the fascinating Titanic Experience museum, one of Northern Ireland’s most visited attractions.

If sunken ships don’t appeal, how about a luxury tented safari camp where guests have the option to zip-line through the rainforest from their arrival point deep in the Cambodian jungle to their check-in desk? This experience is on offer at the 16-tent Shinta Mani Wild eco-resort, scheduled to open in late 2018 in the newly-designated Cardamom National Park, two hours north of the capital Phnom Penh. Each tent is built on a platform above a fast-flowing river on the edge of a vast wilderness sanctuary, home to Asian elephants, tigers and gibbons. Expect a very exclusive experience with guided excursions in luxury jeeps and boats and a price tag of around $US1,500 a night.

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