SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS July 2007 A clean, walkable city with vintage architecture that is its legacy of a Victorian-era gold rush, Melbourne is aggressively positioning itself to own Australia's meetings and conventions market by having the largest concentration of meetings infrastructure on the continent. Even as the latest Expansion of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre complex advances towards its 2009 debut, a mix of new development projects like Federation Square and Waterfront City combine with classic settings like the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Victorian National Gallery to provide a vast array of venue offerings. Nearby, the Yarra Valley wine country offers yet another glimpse into the good life Down Under.
Essential Tool Box Box
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MECC) 323,000 sf of dedicated space; one ballroom and two theaters (largest holds 2,200 theater-style).
Average Daily Business Travel Costs*:
Hotel $153 F&B $95
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*Source: Business Travel News 2007 Corporate Travel Index
The Big News
Slated to open in 2009, the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre (MECC) is expected to lead the world in environmental standards and green meeting space design, even as it becomes the largest combined exhibition and convention space in the country, with a capacity to hold 5,000 delegates.
Natural light and artificial-lighting controls will cut down energy use, and solar panels will meet hot-water requirements. Recycled wastewater for the toilets, cooling towers, and landscape irrigation as well as a black-water recycling plant will reduce water consumption by 50 percent.
The center will achieve the first six-green-star environmental convention rating ever from the Green Building Council of Australia.
According to MECC's Chief Executive Leigh Harry, "The end result will create a whole new experience for delegates [who] will literally breathe easier, [as] cool air will be released at a lower level of the building, not secondhand air which is traditionally pumped through the ceiling of large buildings." The $843-million development includes a 396-room Hilton and 645,840 sf of retail space. -Phoenix Arrien
The All Seasons franchise of France-based Accor Hotels & Resorts has raised its flag at the 374-room Victoria, the 179-room Kingsgate (following an $843-million upgrade), and the 198-room Eco Resort at Phillip Island.
* Phase II of the Waterfront City development at the Melbourne Docklands began in July 2006. When complete, the new phase will feature 441,000 sf of mixed-use development, including the 40-story-tall Southern Star Observation Wheel (think London Eye) and a dedicated tourism lounge. Opened in 2005, Waterfront City is an alternative event and exhibition venue, with a piazza that can accommodate up to 10,000 attendees and features two LED screens with audio. It is currently home to the Harbour Town shopping outlet, 17 restaurants and cafes, and five marinas.
Groups Should Consider
Groups should consider these recommendations from Successful Meetings Home Team* experts. Top venue choices include the 240-room Park Hyatt Melbourne. For off-site venues, recommended are the Old Treasury Function and Meeting Centre and the Pavilion at Fitzroy Gardens (100 attendees or less); and Zinc at Federation Square (100 or more attendees).
*Contributors who informed this section include Home Team members Heather R. Copplestone (GEP); Veronica Scrimshaw; and Dana Toland. Contact them at [email protected]