Melbourne could get 108-storey hotel

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Two major accommodation projects have been announced for Melbourne this week and, if accepted, one could lead to the city having the highest hotel in the southern hemisphere.

Architectural firm Nonda Katsalidis has planned a five-star hotel that will tower 108 storeys above the city.

Nonda Katsalidis, that created the Eureka tower, has designed the proposed Australia 108 building for Southbank that would feature a number of triangular shapes jutting out from the building “inspired by the Southern Cross stars”.

Victoria’s planning minister Matthew Guy will have to make a decision on the Southbank project but already the Melbourne City Council maintains it is too big and inappropriate.

Menwhile United Asia Group hopes to start construction on a proposed 400-apartment mixed-use development on Flemington Rd by the end of 2013.

The $160 million development in North Melbourne will comprise three towers of 13 storeys.

“We are confident based on our initial market response and aim to launch the project by June-September this year,” UAG director Nicole Chow said.

The as yet unnamed project will have four retail outlets on the ground floor totalling 465m².

Some of the building’s 173 one-bedroom and 227 two-bedroom units will overlook an internal garden designed by SJB in association with renowned landscape designer Jack Merlo. It would also have a gymnasium, spa and
sauna facilities at the lower level and a pool, garden and barbecue terrace on the rooftop, Ms Chow said.

UAG’s $95 million, 92-apartment Emblem complex in Hawthorn is expected to be finished in October.

Sick of filling-out Hotel Registration form?

by William Ng

You may have flown around the world and last thing you would like to do is to fill up the registration form that the receptionist is asking you to fill in whenever you check into the hotel.

There are a few ways to escape from filling-up the registration form ahead of your stay.

1) Be part of a hotel loyalty program

If you are part of the hotel’s loyalty program, chances are you would have already registered your details with the brand be it at the desk when they entice you to sign up their loyalty program or you would have registered online. This is one of the step you can escaped from the hassle.

2) Business / Personal name card

If the hotel brand is somewhat new to you or not one of those you would stay regularly, chances are you’re not in their database yet (or that’s not available to you while making your booking). I would give the hotel my business card to skip this hassle if you’re tired and worn out after a long flight. Not only it saves you time, the hotel at least can read everything that has been typewritten out on the card rather than a scribbling hand-writing which might cause them to miss out on certain characters on your details.

The World’s First Harrods Hotel To Open In Kuala Lumpur

YES, you see it right. While we all know Harrods is a huge British luxury retailer from London, now the brand has another huge dream which is to turn the Harrods brand into a global brand.

What’s more of having a store like Harrods within the hotel itself? The experience can never be the same when the British luxury brand wholly owned by Qatar Holding and Malaysian-based company Jerantas Sdn Bhd will invest RM2 billion (approximately USD$ 635 million). Construction will start next year on the world’s first Harrod’s hotel in Kuala Lumpur, in the Bukit Bintang shopping district, says Bloomberg.

The building will house 300 hotel rooms, apartments, and, of course, retail outlets—most likely full of stuff we couldn’t afford back in London and probably still won’t be able to afford. But it’s still fun to look!

Qatar Holding has long-term plans to open Harrod’s hotels in London, New York, Paris, and Sardinia. And if that last one has you scratching your head, it’s because Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda in fact belongs to the company. And for now, the idea is to develop hotels only on land they already own.

P.S. I just miss my shopping in Harrods in Knightsbridge district in summer last year. Now, I can even shop in Kuala Lumpur itself.

Commercial Arrogance: The Wi-Fi Debate

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Should our luxury hotels charge for the use of wi-fi? It has been a norm that hotel industry throughout the world have been charging exorbitant prices just for the usage of wi-fi.

In this 21st-century, internets can be easily obtained almost everywhere, any corner on this planet. Hotels should treat the Internet like a cup of coffee – something of which should be available in every room.

While wi-fi is easily made available and complimentary in many cafes, bookstores and even in hostels, it’s commercial arrogance for a 5-star hotel to charge guests between $25-$40 a day for internet access on top of the room tariff.

While we all know that business travelers these days have the spending power as most of their companies will cover their travel expenses, it is by no means that a 5-star hotel should impose a nominal fee on the Internet access versus the treatment of backpackers staying in a hostel with complimentary Internet access.

My travel around Australia and across Asia recently took me by surprise to see how much 5-star hotels are charging Internet access for its business travelers. I stayed in Singapore back in February, the hotel publishes its Internet rate at SGD$45 per day (subjected to 17% GST) and this I thought was absolutely a cut-throat pricing. In Kuala Lumpur, it is not that far-off as well where the pricing has gone up to as high as RM60-RM70 per day (subjected to 16% government tax and service charge).

In Sydney, 5-star hotels charges ranging from AUD$30-$40 per day depending on the brand of the hotel but there is absolutely no standardize charges if you visit any of the hotels around Sydney.

We all know how easy it is and how cheap it is to install the whole Internet system but it is unfair for the hotel to pass on the installation fees’ burden onto its guests. Hotels should be able to somehow slipped in the Internet charges into its room rates and this will make its guests feeling much more comfortable rather than charging it separately.

The travel industry is as wide as an ocean with everyone owning a mobile, laptops, tablets and any electronic device that has an internet connection with it. What’s the point of having the hotel with a great reputation and great review online and it is being stained with a bad reputation just because of a comment on the Internet fee?

While I have seen many hotels offering complimentary access to its guests who are of high status on its loyalty programme but hotels still have more to do to maintain it’s other clientele who may not travel as frequent as the business travelers do.

As for me, booking a hotel which offers me complimentary internet access is my utmost priority. You offer me free, I will be loyal to your brand. And hotels shouldn’t be surprised if the clientele they gauge don’t come back.