Sydney Harbour Views - Night pic by Chester Ong

The Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts group shares its name with the mythical, isolated Himalayan utopia described in 1933 by British novelist James Hilton, in which residents are always relaxed and happy. In many ways it’s an appropriate comparison.

That’s because even the most experienced of travellers surely can’t help but be uplifted by the jaw-dropping views from the rooms of Shangri-La hotel in Sydney. They take in the poetic lines of the old steel bridge, the teeming harbour traffic and ferries, the sails of the Opera House, juxtaposed with the clean lines of skyscrapers and water that glitters, in the words of the great Australian writer Clive James, like crushed diamonds. This is Sydney at its best.

Success in the incentive and event market hinges on the ability to deliver exceptional service, observes Paul McMurray, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Shangri-La hotel, Sydney.

Horizon Club Rooms_Pics Mauro Rische (3)Every operator will say this of course, but this hotel has a highly experienced on-site events team led by a respected professional, and the cheerfulness of obliging employees is evident from the moment you step into the marble-floored lobby.

Moreover the incentive and events market is acutely focused on destination these days, says Paul McMurray, which is one reason the hotel enjoys a booming MICE business.

Why Sydney?

“Sydney is a “trip of a lifetime” destination”, explains Paul, “that can reward and inspire high achievers.”

Aside from the beauty of the harbour, it has over a hundred great beaches, outstanding restaurants, a thriving arts scene, showcases just about every sporting code under the sun and has a pretty efficient public transport system.

“It’s becoming increasingly apparent to us that companies are moving away from the traditional and towards the special,” Paul says. “This is where Sydney truly shines – in cultural experiences that add a wow factor to incentive or event programs.

Grand Ballroom_Event 2_Shangri-La Hotel, SydneyThat could be, for example, climbing the bridge together, sunset sailing while harbour island hopping, enjoying views of the city from a helicopter and so on.”

The hotel has a good track record with boutique, high-end groups as well as larger city-wide programs which has resulted in good relationships with decision makers who organise and travel with groups, he adds.

These groups can choose from 18 flexible spaces for groups of ten to 400 –  including a covered outdoor venue – and a Grand Ballroom that can seat 750 theatre style and 800 for stand up cocktail. The ballroom’s attributes include a complete lighting, sound and visual system that can be controlled with a wireless iPad, adjustable LED spotlights for table pin-spotting, four skylights with customisable colour settings at the touch of a button, and six motorised projection screens.

As The Siteseer can attest, the hotel offers fine attention to detail in its 565 rooms and suites, which have generous windows and where the furnishings reflect the colours of the harbour. There’s a swish spa, which groups can book exclusively, and a range of dining options including Altitude, a signature restaurant with views of the city on floor 36.

Though it’s a primarily a western hotel, a beautiful Asian influence is evident everywhere: in the service, food and décor – what one staff member describes as “a slice of Asia in Australia”.

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney Grand Ballroom“Our repeat business is a testament to our ability to meet clients’ needs,” says Paul McMurray. (Indeed with the power of social media these days, the hotel’s operators recognise that having clients as ambassadors is critical. Moreover the Sydney hotel gets mostly fulsome reviews on TripAdvisor and elsewhere).

Another advantage of the hotel is its relatively discreet location, a bit removed from the main part of the CBD, yet still only a few minutes’ walk from it and the main ferry terminal, Circular Quay, and the old precinct of The Rocks, established shortly after the founding of the New South Wales colony in 1788.

New loyalty program

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts recently created other incentives for people meeting at its properties, launching “The Events Collection and Golden Circle Event Planner Rewards loyalty program”. This provides meeting and travel professionals and members of Golden Circle – the frequent guest scheme – with the ability to earn “elite” status and earn and redeem points for meetings and events throughout the group’s portfolio.

The Events Collection offering is valid for meetings and events booked for groups taking 25 or more paid guest rooms for at least one night and with a minimum function room spend. In addition to other enticements, groups can get a 10% future event credit.

Special rates on specific dates

Online rates starts from around AUD 260 per night. Organisers can get special rates for groups of 10 or more rooms for meetings or events on specific dates. And if a group or conference books a Sunday night, the hotel is usually able to offer savings. “This is particularly true in the winter months, which is a wonderful time to experience the sights and sounds of Sydney,” says Paul McMurray.

Altitude Private Dining Room