Conde Nast Traveller, in a departure from naming a list of top destinations for 2016, named but one: Australia. For the second year running Tourism Australia’s hero campaign is ‘Restaurant Australia’ – promoting our food, wine and the unique destinations in which to consume and appreciate both.
Tourism, of course, isn’t just about who’s arriving from overseas. It’s about Australians travelling in Australia for whatever reason – estimated to make up between 65 and 70 percent of the total $102 billion tourism impact on the economy. Australians as well as overseas visitors stay in hotels, eat out in restaurants and create the demand for hospitality.
There is no shortage of demand growth forecast for hospitality, but there is evidence that Australia remains inconsistently supplied in hotel rooms, has some poor quality product and in certain localities is oversupplied in certain types of accommodation, particularly serviced apartments. And there will be no curtailing the demand for innovation and differentiation in hospitality venues to cater to visitors and the seemingly insatiable demand of Australians for good food, good coffee and good times.
Here are 3 key trends the savvy diner will spot happening around the country:
1. We’ll worship the authentic
OK, so it’s been a buzzword for some time now, but the A-word isn’t going away. In fact, add to it ‘integrity’ and ‘honesty’ and you have the holy trinity of hospitality design today: AIH. You can see it in the kind of spaces that are being revived, with great diligence and care.
Places like Sydney’s Old Clare Hotel in the former Carlton United Breweries building, a funky reincarnation in the inner-west. Or there’s Perth’s Como The Treasury in the CBD, a perfect refurbishment of a stately Heritage building and Canberra’s Hotel Hotel, an ingenious rabbit warren of individually decorated rooms inside Fender Katsalidis’ Nishi building.
2. The Noma effect
The effect of a 10-week residency of Danish restaurant, Noma, on a Lendlease site at Barangaroo will not simply stop when this tenant packs up its cutlery and heads back to Copenhagen. The first effect has already begun to ripple through the food industry, with chef René Redzepi’s commitment to Indigenous ingredients influencing chefs and their menus across the nation.
3. Deciphering the disruption
The nascent trend towards design-led hotels in mixed-use developments – integrated with communities and neighbourhoods that are unique and compelling, including food and beverage destinations – is closely aligned with the expectations of the new breed of informed traveller.
Part of the design process is to lead the development community to previously unimagined solutions and, in Australia, we are only beginning to imagine hospitality that reflects the desires for experience and authenticity.