I’M sleeping in a hotel room that’s worth a cool million dollars.
That’s not the rack rate, the price it costs to make a reservation and occupy a room, but a reflection of Sydney’s skyrocketing real-estate prices.
I’m staying at the Westin Sydney – a luxurious address occupying Martin Place’s premier plot a few blocks from the Pitt Street Mall and an easy wander to Circular Quay – with that seven-digit figure a clever calculation on how much it cost a duo of Asian-based companies to buy the five-star hotel in 2015.
The Westin Sydney has 414 guest rooms with the property’s new owners paying $445 million to secure the hotel occupying the settlement’s historic central post office and the modern tower rising above the vintage sandstone landmark.
Hence the comment that I’m sleeping in a hotel room that’s worth a cool million dollars.
So, I hear you ask, what does a $445 million buy hoteliers these days?
In Sydney it’s a centrally-located property with a slew of places to eat and drink in the surrounding streets, an iconic façade and the gravitas that comes with occupying one of the city’s most distinguished parcels of land, and that Westin name which promises travellers a blend of classic and contemporary accommodations.
I understand those big bucks also buy a great view and, while my 18th-floor chamber looks into the windows of the offices occupying neighbouring commercial buildings, there are suites on the higher floors that gaze across the rooftops to Sydney Harbour.
I’m inhabiting a superior king room in the glass tower, a nook with two big windows as well as a very comfortable armchair and a corner desk perfect for working, that features lots of light natural tones to give the space a simple but sophisticated feel.
The bathroom has a deep tub, separate toilet cubicle, a rain shower that drops a torrent of delightfully hot water, plush towels, mirrors and lights for make-up application, and a vast internal window that lets those cleaning their teeth gaze across the bed to the view outside.
I arrive at lunchtime, well before the official 3pm check-in time, and not only does the genial staffer manning reception find me a room ready to occupy but fixes a problem with my SPG status and arranges a late check-out hour for departure day.
No fuss, no drama, no petty restrictions, just welcome to the hotel and here’s your key so go enjoy the serenity after the journey, with the gesture making me feel like a valued guest in an industry that so often tries to fake that feeling.
Westin is working hard to establish itself as the international hotel brand promoting wellness – the Westin Wellbeing Movement offers healthy cuisine, local running maps at each property, a sleep program to encourage rest – with this evident at breakfast served in Mosaic Restaurant under the glass roof now spanning the post office’s old courtyard.
There are abundant healthy options, including one counter packed with gluten-free choices, and I don’t get past the cereal station enjoying a bowl piled of blended muesli varieties topped with fresh fruit and yogurt accompanied by a zesty smoothie.
After breakfast I set out for a day sightseeing, doing a loop from the Westin Sydney to the Art Gallery of NSW and then through the Botanic Gardens to Circular Quay for a ferry ride on the Harbour and home via Jamie’s Italian a few doors down from the hotel on Pitt Street, with a stop in the ground-level bar for a late-afternoon latte before ascending to my room.
Then there’s time to curl up in that comfy armchair and watch the sunset from my west-facing window before heading out for an evening in Sin City knowing that it’s only a stroll home to this centrally-located address.