An old mate of mine recently returned from her travels to Burma and said she stayed at a wonderful hotel with a great ‘sense of arrival’.

The wow she got from the arrival only served to remind her how much the sense of arrival had been lost at hotels and resorts in recent times.

I love that expression: a sense of arrival. It implies the hotel or resort is a destination in of itself. It only works if the arrival is backed up by the property, and thankfully it usually does go hand in hand.

The Palazzo Versace certainly has that sense of arrival, with the turning circle hand-crafted by Italian artisans. And if you read my review, you would realise that’s a big call for someone who is not a Versace guy. (What, no rippling abs and a waist like a twelve-year-old boy, I hear you scream?)

A stark example of the difference a sense of arrival makes in Sydney is the Swissotel and QT, both on Market Street and both lobbies only accessed by a lift.

Swissotel has the requisite professional staff that escort you to the lifts to arrive at an open, fairly mainstream and corporate reception. It’s extremely difficult in that situation to make a sense of arrival.

QT, on the other hand, creates a sense of arrival from the street, with clever uniforms and the startling “director of chaos”, and great use of the fabulous Art Deco architecture. The lifts play different music for the number of guests – single occupants get lonely tunes, loads of occupants have a party anthem. This immediately gives you a sense of arrival in a challenging circumstance.

This idea of arrival reminds me of a piece of advice Michael Anderson, Chief Concierge at the Observatory, now the Langham, shared at out Les Clef D’Or lunch a while ago.


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“A lobby should be treated by staff as a stage and ensure that there is a sense of theatre and drama happening in the space,” he said.

But when it is not backed up in the property, it is almost worse than no sense of arrival at all. It leaves you feeling cheated. I would prefer to be surprised with a great hotel with no sense of arrival.

A great example was my stay at the Royce Hotel in Melbourne a number of years ago. There is nothing worse than a hotel that is lobby deep.

You would say that the Luxury Lodges of Australia should all have a sense of arrival and, whilst many do, some could be a lot better to be honest.

My favourite of the lodges would have to be Saffire Main Stingray building. An absolute masterpiece of craftsmanship and use of the location. Can we have some more of that, please, Australia. Let me know of any places with a great sense of arrival.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, my mate Kate’s place was the Inle Princess in Burma.