Park Hyatt Sydney: A lifetime experience
© yohanes.budiyanto, 2012
Park Hyatt Sydney was built on the site of the former water police station on Hickson Road at Campbell's Cove, which was in operation from 1865 until 1986. The curvaceous low-rise building is designed by one of Australia's most celebrated architects, Ken Woolley (Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley) and opened in 1990. Ken Woolley is a prominent figure in the Australian architecture field with a career spanning more than 50 years and a recipient of many high-profile awards, including Australia's highest architectural honor, the RAIA Gold Medal, in 1993. The Gold Medal is the Australian equivalent to the much coveted annual Pritzker Architectural Prize (coincidentally founded by The Pritzker family, who owns Hyatt hotels). Pritzker Prize is the architectural equivalent to an Oscar award.
After its inauguration in 1990, Park Hyatt Sydney quickly established itself as the best and most luxurious hotel in the Southern Hemisphere. A series of cosmetic renovations were completed between 2004 - 2007 for most of the rooms; restaurant and bar; with a cutting edge contemporary design, most notably with the addition of Radar Chairs and other iconic designer furniture in the guestrooms and public areas. It is not until April 2011 when the hotel embarked on the biggest transformation in its entire history, renovating all rooms, bathrooms, public areas and added 3 rooftop Suites that finally completed in February 2012.
Park Hyatt Sydney is located at an enviable spot at The Rocks, an historic area that is perfect for all travellers and any first-time visitors to Sydney as it has a plethora of entertainment, cultural, shopping and dining options. The Harbour Bridge is literally on the back of the hotel and the Opera House is a lovely stroll away via Circular Quay. The Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) is literally next door to the hotel, allowing guests a glimpse of the gigantic Queen Mary 2 when it berths in Sydney.
Some of Australia's best and most high-profile restaurants could be found around The Rocks area promixity. Peter Gilmore, -Australia's most critically-acclaimed chef-, opened his eponymous restaurant at OPT, called Quay, earning him the much coveted 3 hats award, which is the Australian equivalent to a 3 Michelin Star. Its iconic Snow Egg dessert is as iconic as the Opera House now, since making a stint at the MasterChef TV shows. I have personally tried it and it exceeds my expectation. A visit to Sydney is not complete without visiting the Quay and sampling the Snow Egg.
Neil Perry, -another Australian icon, also has a flagship 3 hats restaurant nearby, called Rockpool; and so has Guillaume Brahimi with the venerable, 3 hats Guillaume, - housed in the smaller sail structure of the Opera House. If it's not enough, ARIA by celebrity chef Matt Moran is just next door with 2 hats. The Bridge Room, an impressive new restaurant in the area run by an extremely talented chef formerly of Amanresorts, Ross Lusted, is a pleasant walk just down the block near Circular Quay; and has been creating a buzz since its opening just a couple of years ago. It immediately scored an impressive 2 hats within a year of operation. It is without a doubt, one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney. You can certainly expect an Amanresorts caliber of service here.
Chef Shaun Presland also has a presence at the historic Argyle precinct with his 1 hat Japanese Restaurant, Sake; and a Sydney institution with 1 hat, Sailor's Thai is also nearby, serving award winning Thai cuisine that has been inspired by and continued the legacy of prominent Australian chef, David Thompson. Back in the 1990s, David used to run the restaurant and pioneered Thai cuisine in Australia. He quickly rose to stardom with the critical success of his Thai restaurant in London, Nahm, which was the first Thai restaurant in the world to earn a Michelin Star.
The Rocks area is a shopping mecca with the popular weekend outdoor street markets that are ideal for local shopping; and there is no shortage of luxury boutiques around this area, from Louis Vuitton to Gucci and Ralph Lauren; and many other luxury brands represented at the DFS. Pubs, restaurants and cafes are abundant nearby.
Originally housing 158 rooms including 3 Premier Suites (73m2); a Diplomatic Suites (145m2) and The Governer Suite (185m2) over 4 levels, Park Hyatt Sydney has reconfigured all its rooms during the massive top to bottom renovation that lasted almost a year. It now has an inventory of 155 rooms including 11 Suites: Cove Suites (73m2); Quay Suites (120m); Rooftop Suite (142m2); Harbour Suite (145m2); Opera Suite (185m2); and a palatial 350m2 Sydney Suite on the rooftop, commanding a 360-degree views spanning Sydney’s iconic Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge; and a staggering price tag of $16,000 per night.
All rooms were completely remodelled by Melbourne-based interior designer BAR Studio and now sporting a more elegant look with residential feel, similar to that of Tony Chi's Park Hyatt Shanghai with dark wood furniture, limestone and luxurious fabrics against beige, ivory and natural tones background. A significant part of the renovation was the refurbishment of all bathrooms, which was left intact during past renovations. The new bathrooms are smartly designed with twin sinks; separate powder room (how clever); separate "wet" area with rainforest shower and a bathtub from the German-brand Kaldewei, who introduced the first free standing bathtub back in 1934 and was named "Brand of the Century" in 2010. Another amazing high-tech showcase at Park Hyatt Sydney's bathroom is the installation of a Japanese washlet by Toto as a standard in all rooms. Unlike other Park Hyatts in Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul; the washlet here only has basic function (heated seat; electronic flush; bidet and deodorizer) and does not have the sensorized version that could detect occupant presence and automatically opens the lid. Having said that, it is already an astonishment and blessing to see its debut in an Australian hotel.
Standard features in all rooms include Sealy ‘Grand Pillow Top’ beds, 40” LED Television by Sharp; Electronically controlled sheer and black out screens; Dining Table cum working desk for two; Bose ‘iPod/iPhone’ Digital Music System; Multimedia hub; Digital alarm clock in bathroom and bedroom; Steam Iron and Ironing Board; large safe deposit box enough to store your Macbook Pro or your old chunky laptops; and my personal favourite feature: a beautifully designed, custom-built, full height "mini-pantry" cabinet housing these wonders: Nespresso coffee machine and capsules; glass-fronted mini fridge; in-room wines (chargeable) and minibar; standard cutlery and electric kettle. Bathroom amenities are supplied by the famous New York perfurmer, Le Labo.
Despite criticism and skeptics in some online forums regarding the decision of using Le Labo amenities over the usual Park Hyatt standard of Aesop, Blaise Mautin, Acca Kappa and Aromatherapy Associates; I personally like the Le Labo's Bergamote 22 series,- which was part of the original debut lines of fragrances in 2006-, as it gives the room such a distinct, refreshing and calming smell. The number "22" in the fragrance line refers to the number of ingredients that make up the whole composition, and Bergamote is the ingredient with the highest concentration.
One fact that most people has yet to realize is that Le Labo founders, Edouard Roschi and Fabrice Penot, used to be the perfumers at Giorgio Armani. I am sure that this fact alone will silence any doubts and prejudice over Le Labo. This brand currently takes the hospitality world by storm. The Fairmont hotels has now ditched Miller Harris for Le Labo; Le Meridien has bathroom amenities with unique scents created by Le Labo, named LM01; and even the celebrity-hotspot Gramercy Park Hotel in New York uses Le Labo.
ROOM TO BOOK:
Personally, I would opt for one of the Opera Deluxe Rooms as it is technically a Suite; and in fact bigger than the standard Suite (Cove Suite). The 75 m2 room has open plan arrangement with two balconies; two-seater sofa; a round dining table that double as a work desk; and a bathtub with an Opera House view. These rooms are located at both ends of the hotel's elongated structure. The east end is closer to the lift bank; and has direct uninterrupted water and Opera House view; while the west end fronts Campbell's Cove with a framed view of Opera House and the hotel's low rise building on one side.
There are 3 food and beverage outlets in the hotel: The Living Room and The Bar, both adjacent to the Lobby; and the former Harbour Kitchen & Bar has been resurrected into the elegant Dining Room with beautiful postcard views of the Opera House. Breakfast is served at both Living and Dining Room every morning with a choice of hot food to be ordered a la carte; and a buffet spread consisting a limited variety of pastries, fruits and cereals, all nicely presented in individual glass boxes, much like a jewelry showcase. Breakfast orders were delivered in a timely manner and cooked perfectly.
The choice of all day dining food is also limited in variety but consists of Australian-inspired cuisine and all time favourite dishes, from Caesar salad to burgers and pastas; to fish and chips and Wagyu beef steak.
The small rooftop area has been expanded and refurbished with a larger sun deck area; three poolside cabanas; outdoor seating areas; a revamped existing small lap pool by the harbour bridge side; and an outdoor jacuzzi with the most amazing city views. There is a small gym located directly one level below the rooftop area, connected by an internal stair. Guests staying on Level 3 has easy direct access to the 24-hours gym (accessed by hotel card), which is conveniently located next to the lift bank. The Spa facilities has also been enhanced with 5 newly-designed treatment rooms, a relaxation room; whirlpool, sauna and 2 aromatherapy steam rooms. During my stay for almost a week at the hotel, I notice one favourite ritual by many in-house guests by the rooftop pool area is to order room service and celebrate a special occasion with champagne and killer views on the background.
MEETING & CONVENTION:
There are three different meeting venues within the hotel with 5 meeting rooms; The Gallery, which could accommodate up to 150 guests but could also be divided into three separate intimate event spaces; and a Guest House at the western edge of the hotel with the most beautiful, uninterrupted views of the Sydney Opera House. The Guest House is converted from what used to be The Little Kitchen and Harbour Bar; and is conveniently connected to both The Dining Room and The Gallery. There is an open theatrical live kitchen located at the center to serve these three interconnected areas. It is a unique venue, perfect to accommodate up to 70 guests.
Park Hyatt Sydney is the preferred home of many Heads of State, dignitaries, royalty, rock stars and celebrities. Frank Sinatra & Billy Joel were rumoured to made headlines for a fight over a Suite in the past. Now the fight is surely to get even feistier with the arrival of the ultra-glamorous, 350m2, 360 degree view Sydney Suite at $16,000/night. In fact, the whole new rooftop suites addition could be booked as a whole (3 Suites altogether) for a "modest" $50,000/night with a minimum of 2 nights required. The bad news is? The Suite is reportedly fully booked until the end of the month.
The Opera House view on many rooms is unrivalled and has been so synonymous with the Park Hyatt Sydney; but with the recent addition of the TOTO washlet, the cult followers are surely to get even stronger.
Park Hyatt Sydney has always raised the bar to a new height, and this applies to the level of service too. Based on my experiences at other top Australian hotels, the Park Hyatt service remains the best. Friendly staffs greeted me by my last name every time I walked pass through the Lobby and Living Room; and they always seemed so eager to please. There were a few stand outs, i.e. Ms. Honja from the reception; Chad from the Living Room; and most female staffs from The Dining Room performed at a different level to the rest of the staffs. They were truly exceptional and their service level was world class.
Park Hyatt Sydney has a staggering battalion of 20 butlers to serve all guests on its 155 rooms. They are on hand to help you with your minor tech glitches, packing and unpacking and other requests. This is probably a feature that sets Park Hyatt Sydney apart from the rest of the competitors. My charming butler even took a lengthy time to fix our IT glitches and make sure we are well taken care of. Another interesting note worth mentioning is the fact that many staffs here could be mistaken as fashion models. They do have good looks and the beautifully-designed uniforms on each staffs alone could already steal the show. Not sure if this should be included on the X-factor section.
Park Hyatt is my favourite hotel brand. It has a collection of design-driven ultra luxury boutique hotels with unique unrivalled locations; contemporary design; fine food and highly-personalized service. The same applies to Park Hyatt Sydney as it is without a doubt the best hotel in Sydney; and one of the finest in the world. With such pedigree, amazing features and exceptional service, it is clearly in a different league from the rest of other Sydney hotels. No other hotels in Sydney have balconies with Opera Views; a team of 20 butlers and a TOTO washlets in the standard room. Any stay here is a lifetime experience and is recommended to visit at least twice before you die. I have stayed here a couple of times already and I still could not get enough of it and am longing for an excuse to come back to Sydney just so I can stay at the hotel again.
Make sure to book the Opera Deluxe Rooms on the top floor (3rd floor) for the most breathtaking view of the Opera House. If money is no object, I fully recommend the 350m2 Sydney Suite for a life time experience. It is actually a wise way to spend your $16,000 because the experience here is priceless. No money can buy..
1. Room: 100
2. Bathroom: 95
3. Quality of Bed: 100
4. Service: 90
5. In-room Tech: 95
6. In-room Amenities: 95
7. Architecture & Design: 100
8. Food: 85
9. View: 100
10. Pool: 90
11. Wellness: 85
12. Location: 100
13. Value: 85
PARK HYATT SYDNEY
7 Hickson Road, The Rocks
General Manager: Andrew Mensforth
Executive Chef: Andrew McKee
Architect: Ken Woolley, (Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley)
Interior Designer (Opening, 1990): Hirsch Bedner & Associates
Interior Designer (Refurbishment, 2004: Rooms): Chhada Siembieda Australia
Interior Designer (Refurbishment, 2007: Harbour Bar): BAR Studio
Interior Designer (Refurbishment, 2012): BAR Studio