Where can you stay for business or leisure, an hour-and-a-half’s easy drive north of Sydney, and pay between $99 and $145 a night for outstanding, functional accommodation? Accor’s Ibis chain may provide the answer, as The Siteseer discovered.
To see first-hand what customers get for these low prices, I headed off north from Sydney for two nights: first to the basic but convenient and comfortable Ibis Budget Gosford on the New South Wales Central Coast, then to the ritzier, full-service Ibis Styles at The Entrance, 30 minutes further north.
These properties were a revelation. The Gosford property, on sale online for as low as $99 a night, and which has recently been refurbished, has 78 quiet rooms well set back from a major thoroughfare, comfortable beds and plenty of parking. Some of the rooms overlook a gorgeous green corridor separating hotel and river. Naturally there’s free wifi, USB charging points in all rooms, and block-out blinds to sustain a good night’s sleep.
Ibis Budget Gosford’s cheerful and welcoming General Manager Karen Gibson (left), who’s worked at Accor hotels in Broome, Canberra and Newcastle, is enthusiastic about her property – and the surrounding attractions of the New South Wales Central Coast. “There’s a reptile park nearby, which many guests visit. It’s fascinating and fun for all; I don’t care how old you are! And right next door we have the race course, which is also an attraction for many groups.”
Beautiful beaches, great shopping and dining variety are among the other drawcards, she adds. “An RSL club is a five-minute walk away from here, and there’s a great pub five minutes away in the other direction. You don’t come here to spend time in your room. It’s not a resort obviously. You drop your bags off, you go and explore, you go to bed, get up and go out again. It’s an ideal base for that.”
Many group visitors are from sporting and musical organisations, and the hotel is getting busier, despite covid’s omnipresent impact, Karen says. “We’re expecting a big year ahead. There’s lots happening at Gosford and the Central Coast and we’ve built up a great family of guests.”
From AUD99 a night
While Karen says the Ibis Gosford offers consistently low rates all year, at peak times they may increase because of demand.
More information, click here.
Phone: (02) 4325 7692
Meanwhile, at Ibis Styles, The Entrance, the ebullient young General Manager Aaron Ficyk (below) presides over a different kind of arrangement, and not just because Ibis Styles is an Accor “full-service” brand with more facilities than the more basic Ibis Budget.
Here the new, 52-room hotel, set on a hill overlooking the dreamy waters of Tuggerah Lakes, exists in an integrated relationship with the Diggers RSL club next door. The Diggers is a recently refurbished restaurant and conference complex whose guests typically make use of the hotel’s accommodation, and where hotel guests likewise meet and dine.
“Some people have a bit of difficulty getting their head around our integrated relationship with the Diggers club,” says Aaron. “But once they’ve had a site inspection and see the conference facilities, we find it’s very easy to seal a booking.”
The arrangement represents outstanding value for money, he says, with a $49 full-day conference package that includes room hire, morning and afternoon tea, lunch and basic AV hire.
The Diggers manages many local conferences where guests don’t need accommodation, but when people come from Sydney and elsewhere they can get the complete package, explains Aaron. “They can room-charge back to the club and get one seamless invoice at the end of their stay. Plus they can access the club from the hotel and don’t have to leave the premises. And by showing their room key they can get the members’ discounts for food and drinks. This connection with the RSL club is pretty rare in the Accor group.”
The Pavilion Events Centre at The Diggers is a big space that can comfortably seat up to 200, overlooking the lake, and there are a variety of boardrooms for smaller functions. The club is recognised as a specialist wedding reception venue, and is “perfect” for any type of celebration including weddings, anniversaries and business functions, Aaron says. An events coordinator is always on hand.
“One of the greatest advantages for conference and events organisers is the proximity to Sydney,” adds Aaron. “It’s only an hour and fifteen minutes by car, and once you’re here it’s like you’re a million miles away. This entire Central Coast area represents untapped potential.”
The Ibis Styles at The Entrance has 52 rooms, including eight family rooms that sleep four people or five with an optional rollaway bed. Some have views of the lake, and there are wheelchair-accessible rooms on every level. “People generally recognise that we represent great value, even over Christmas and Easter peak seasons when the rates are a bit higher.. We’re four-star rated and guests who come here for the first time are surprised by the quality of the property. You’re getting a beautiful view, and the rooms are modern and fresh.”
Originally from the Blue Mountains, Aaron was involved as part of the opening team for nearby Magenta Shores for Mirvac in 2017. Then he moved to Newcastle to open a Novotel at Newcastle Beach. (Earlier he’d worked as a casual at Ibis Styles.) He was offered his current role of General Manager three years ago when new owners bought the property.
From AUD 125 a night
The hotel has “some fantastic offers” in off-peak times, Aaron says. “We do a winter promotion which is room and continental breakfast for $125. In 2022 we’re doing a devonshire tea offer. People come back every year, they know the package is there.”
More information, click here.
Phone: +61 2 4336 0400