There have been plenty of news articles about the theft of hotel items, but one chain of luxury hotels in Australia is actually encouraging it. Each of the Art Series Hotels in Melbourne is named after a well-known artist and aims to attract art lovers, seekers of culture, corporate travellers and those who enjoy the good life. From December 15, 2011 to January 15, 2012 they are also encouraging those with a slight criminal tendency to book a room.
Guests are being challenged to steal an original artwork by Banksy, best known for his graffiti-style. Those caught in the act will simply have to admit defeat and rehang the painting, but anyone who gets clean away with the painting gets to keep the AUS$15,000 signed masterpiece as the prize. The challenge was to lift the Banksy original “No Ball Games” and two female guests did indeed use all their cunning and guile to persuade the staff to actually load the painting into their car on December 19, claiming it had to be moved to another hotel.
Previous failed attempts including guests hacking into the CCTV system; placing a listening device beneath the Reception desk and countless requests for false housekeeping issues in a vain attempt to get staff to leave the painting unattended.
The Art Theft challenge continues with a second Banksy original now hanging. Guests have until January 15 to make off with “Pulp Fiction”, by fair means or foul!
A French exotic dancer has caused outrage in Australia by performing a strip show on one of the country’s most famous tourist attractions, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.
Alizee Sery put on the show for a friend with a video camera. The video – which was posted on YouTube – shows her climbing the red sandstone monolith in conventional dress and then stripping at the top to a white bikini, white high-heeled boots and a bushman’s hat.
The 1,142ft high rock is sacred to Australia’s Aborigines, who have asked tourists to respect its significance and not even to climb it. What Miss Sery had done, said one, was the equivalent of someone defecating on the steps of the Vatican.
Ms Sery insisted that she hadn’t meant to offend anyone – it was more of a tribute to the greatness of the rock. “What we need to remember is that traditionally, the Aboriginal people were living naked. So stripping down was a return to what it was like. After such a hard climb, when you reach the top, the view and the magic of the place gives you an amazing feeling of peace and freedom. You want to sing, dance –and strip.”
This explanation didn’t cut much ice with the Central Land Council, which represents the traditional owners of Uluru. The Director, David Ross, said Ms Sery should be deported.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers a range of luxury hotels in Sydney, Melbourne and many other parts of Australia.
Whether the experience was good, bad or so-so, I like to write a review of a luxury hotel on the various outlets available on the internet.
After my last two trips (to New York and Melbourne), the managers of both luxury hotels in which I stayed sent a personal message to me after my review appeared – and this seems to be a growing trend.
My feeling was confirmed by Roger Yu in USA Today, who reported that chains such as Marriott, Hilton and Kimpton now use sophisticated software to scan for complaints and urgent problems like bedbugs, while smaller hotels stay on top of guests’ online complaints with tools like Google alerts.
Bjorn Hanson, a hospitality professor at New York University, said online reviews were being used to improve training, adjust restaurant and staffing hours and add or remove amenities.
John Spomer, the Managing Director of the historic Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas said negative reviews were compiled daily and forwarded to appropriate departmental heads, who were required to respond within 24 hours. He recently hired a communications director whose duties will include handling reviews.
“We’re not doing the best job talking to the masses,” said Spomer. “It really takes commitment.”
by Andy Moreton
I’ve just got back from a short visit to Melbourne, Australia and return to a subject I touched on more than two years ago – trams.
In a modern city fizzing with fashion, great nightlife and elegant dining, you’d think trams would stand out as a bit passé. Not a bit of it – they’re part of the fabric of Melbourne, providing a convenient and environmentally friendly way to get around. And one route – the City Circle tram – is free, dropping you off close to various visitor attractions.
I loved Melbourne – it has everything you’d expect from a major city, plus a beach area (St Kilda) only a tram ride away. The Eureka Skydeck provides the best views of the city, the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) tour is a must if you’re a cricket fan, and the best free attraction in my opinion is the Royal Botanic Gardens – a glorious place to spend some leisure time.
My only regret is that I was too early for three major events in the city: the International Flower and Garden Show (March 24–28), the International Comedy Festival (March 24–April 18) and, of course, the Formula 1 Grand Prix (March 28).
by Andy Moreton
If you’re thinking of heading Down Under, Luxique offers six luxury hotels in Melbourne, all with their own special features.