It’s a tough call, reopening a luxury hotel during a pandemic, but Hilton had sufficient confidence in the quality of a A$45 million (US$35million) refurbishment of the Parmelia hotel in Perth, Western Australia, that it cheerfully laid out the ‘Welcome Back’ mat in February after being closed for 10 months.
International travel restrictions have meant that so far guests have been largely local, regional and inter-state travellers, but once Australia’s borders reopen, the 53-year-old Hilton Parmelia Perth will once again take its place as the city’s grand dame of five-star hotels.
Since British peer Lord Alistair McAlpine and a buddy launched the Parmelia in 1968, the hotel’s mid-city location has been further enhanced by nearby developments. It is within 50m of the Perth Exhibition and Conference Centre and is connected via a walkway to Brookfield Place dining and shopping precinct, where some of Australia’s biggest mining and telecommunications companies hang out.
The new executive lounge on the ground floor.
In a few words: Light, space, art and calmness. This hotel doesn’t need overused, gimmicky ‘lifestyle’ marketing to create an impression.
Those familiar with the style of the pre-renovated hotel will be comforted by the new muted look. Soft, recessed lighting, pastel shades and warm timbers dance lightly with the pink, reds and vivid blues of the West Australian outback, combining to whisper a message that the age of elegance is not dead.
Locally sourced art is at its most compelling in the restyled lobby where artwork by Leon Pericles recalls the hotel’s links to Western Australia’s history. The ship Parmelia brought the first civilian officials to what was then the Swan River Colony, in 1829.
The revamped also added more rooms and suites to the hotel, now offering 316 keys. Pictured: King Executive Suite
Rooms have gone through a major renovation, with new bathrooms, air-conditioning, flooring, furniture and in-room technology. The number of rooms and suites have increased from 284 to 309, along with seven meeting spaces.
Samuel’s on Mill bar and brasserie, located off the lobby, also goes local with its produce and encourages diners to choose and share from “small, medium and large” dishes. Samuel’s has a list of 100 wines and a large selection of craft beers.
The chic Samuel’s on Mill bar.
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No question, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the hospitality industry significantly. For hotels, the challenge has been to assure guests that they are entering a safe environment where their well-being is paramount.
For the Hilton Parmelia, this translates to touchless technology that includes a digital key linked to a guest’s phone. Guests can activate the key to enter their rooms — bypassing traditional check-in at the front desk — and then use the same technology to visit the hotel swimming pool, gym or the new executive lounge on the ground floor.
Further reassurance comes via Hilton’s CleanStay and EventReady programmes which are sealed into the hotel’s rooms and suites, and public areas.
At a time when hotels are searching for a distinctive identity and are lavishly designing their properties to stand out in a crowded marketplace, Hilton has remained true to its heritage.
Like the good ship Parmelia, it’s “steady as she goes” through and —hopefully — out of the pandemic.