Brisbane’s hotel scene is in the throes of an almighty transformation. Long gone are the days when the name of the game was simply cramming in suits-and-ties for short-term stays. A fresh wave of boutique and resort-focused properties now reflects Brisbane’s newfound status as a true destination for travellers, rather than one giant conference centre or jumping off point for North Queensland.
In the past two years the Johnson, Peppers FV, Ovolo Inchcolm, W Brisbane and Emporium South Point have all come on stream, with a Westin and second Ovolo still due before the end of 2018.
Late October, though, saw what was arguably the most anticipated opening of them all. Over the course of 18 months locals have watched as The Calile took shape on the corner of James and Doggett streets. Now it’s finally open and already beginning to fundamentally rewire the entire James Street precinct.
“I think we decided we didn’t want to be Melbourne and we didn’t want to be Sydney,” general manager Jeremy Nordkamp says of the hotel. “Let's be Brisbane. Let's celebrate the fact that we have this beautiful weather 10 months of the year.”
That's exactly what The Calile Hotel does. Renowned local architects Richards and Spence created the $100 million “urban resort” by taking inspiration from other hot-weather cities. Hallways feature breeze blocks, open-air nooks and fans instead of traditional dark, carpeted corridors. Every room has a balcony of some sort, and the vast majority of the 175 rooms look over a 30-metre-pool lined by palm trees and plush cabanas. The exterior features the distinctive Richards and Spence touchstones of white brick, concrete facades and geometric shapes that have come to define James Street in recent years.
Each room’s (including the nine suites) contemporary design draws on natural elements and celebrates the Queensland environment. Marble surfaces in natural pinks, blues and greens meet timber panelling, cork flooring and brass fixtures. It all creates a minimal yet playful look. The curved shapes of the exterior archways are echoed throughout the interior, perhaps most interestingly in the shower walls.
Nordkamp is keen to underline that the attention to detail extends to the service and experience.
“The building is beautiful. I don’t want to ever take away from that,” he says. “But it doesn’t matter how beautiful the building is … if we don’t have the people right and the service right we just won't be successful.
“We want to make [guests] feel safe, welcome, and we [want to] remove any stress.”
The Calile is calling itself an urban resort and much like any resort experience it’s a destination unto itself. “There's no reason to leave,” Nordkamp says.
Guests have access to a range of luxury amenities including Kailo Wellness Medispa, gym and fitness facilities via Forme Fitness, and a ground level retail precinct that includes debut Brisbane stores by Bassike, Dion Lee, Venroy and Love Stories.
The food and drink options include the hotel’s own Lobby Bar and a second edition of Simon Gloftis’s hugely popular Gold Coast restaurant, Hellenika. Both are open breakfast through to dinner.
Nordkamp reckons the hotel will continue to be a popular staycation spot and also appeal to corporate interstate travellers and international tourists. “We’ve had people who live 200 metres up the road come and stay for the weekend,” he says.
48 James Street, Fortitude Valley
(07) 3607 5888