Development boom to fuel Sydney’s event sector
Sydney has entered its biggest hotel expansion phase since the 2000 Olympic Games, with a string of new high-end developments set to open in the harbor city over coming years.
As the new International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) notches up six months of operation as the city’s flagship conference venue, the events industry is set to benefit further from a multi-billion dollar hotel boom.
Major developments underway or in the pipeline will help ease Sydney’s room shortage, while several additional conference venues will complement the large-scale facilities now operating at ICC Sydney.
Among the first projects to welcome guests is the newly rebranded and expanded Hyatt Regency Sydney, which in March opened an additional 220 rooms in a tower alongside its water-view conference centre. The 24-storey addition is the final stage of a $240 million redevelopment of the former Four Points by Sheraton.
It will be joined in November by the $350 million Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, a 35-storey tower adjoining ICC Sydney. The 590-room five-star hotel will include additional conference facilities including nine meeting spaces and a ballroom for up to 450 guests.
Nearby, the Star Entertainment group has lodged plans for a $500 million Ritz-Carlton adjoining its hotel-casino site in Pyrmont, involving a “six-star” 220-room hotel in a landmark tower overlooking the city and harbour. Together with other developments at the site, it will give The Star a total hotel inventory of around 1,000 rooms.
Facing off across the bay at Barangaroo will be James Packer’s Crown Sydney, the 350-room hotel and casino development set to become a new landmark on the city’s skyline. Incorporating luxury apartments, restaurants, bars and high-end retail space, the development will also include conference facilities in a $2 billion, 71-storey tower.
Other major developments include the $300 million redevelopment of a landmark pair of heritage buildings on Bridge Street in the city centre. Known as the “sandstones”, the former Lands and Education Department buildings will be reinvented by Singapore’s Pontiac group as a luxury hotel with conference facilities.
The surge in hotel investment follows the $1.5 billion spent on ICC Sydney, which is expected to generate $5 billion in economic returns for NSW over the next 25 years.
“In the first six months of operation, we delivered almost 350 events and welcomed over 750,000 people through our doors,” said ICC Sydney chief executive officer Geoff Donaghy. “ICC Sydney has been warmly welcomed and embraced by the business events industry, both locally and internationally.”
Among the first events held at the centre have been the Reed Gift Fairs which attracted 18,000 visitors and the Pathology Update 2017 which brought 1,400 delegates from around the world.
Donaghy said other events, like the 4,200-delegate TEDxSydney and 13,500-delegate Salesforce World Tour had further promoted ICC Sydney as a centre of innovation.
“The opening of ICC Sydney has given NSW, and Australia, a venue that is unlike anything else ever seen before,” Donaghy said. “Our nation, and industry, have been set up for the next 25 years with a flexible, integrated and highly functional design that capitalises on our location.”