Tag Archives: Wollongong

Like Wollongong itself, the Sage Hotel, adjacent to one of the great sandy beaches of the coastal city, seems to have arrived at a winning formula – to surprise and delight visitors.

Eighty kilometres south of Sydney, Wollongong is traditionally touted (by locals) as one of New South Wales’s best-kept secrets, but its quickly growing business and leisure tourism industry belies that claim. The four-star Sage Wollongong, arguably the most important MICE hotel in the city, located next to the WIN entertainment complex and football stadium, is likewise experiencing a rapid rise in interest.

IMG_1739 2“Our events business is great,” says Jade Gomez (left), the Sage Wollongong’s enthusiastic young conference and event manager. “We’ve had a very good few months where we’ve been running at maximum capacity. We obviously have a significant presence in the local community and get a lot of Sydney business; it’s growing literally by the week.”

There’s much to like about the 168-room Sage Wollongong, not least its boundlessly enthusiastic staff and – importantly for many MICE guests, says Jade – the value for money it represents. The conference package full-day rate for meetings in its 13 events venues of diverse sizes (including a ballroom that can take 400 theatre-style) is currently AUD65. That includes morning tea, lunch prepared by a skilled chef, afternoon tea, continuous tea and coffee, basic AV and other “surprise extras”.

“So for example our terrific Melbourne chef has his own protein-ball recipe, and we will offer these to clients as a welcome snack, or we’ll provide cordial stations in the conference rooms, and . . . interactive food stations,” says Jade Gomez. “It may be more work from our end, but we want to show our guests how much we appreciate the business – and make the breaks between meetings more interesting for delegates who’ve been sitting all day.”

Stage and Screen GPhe team is flexible, too, in working to organisers’ budgets, and constantly offers events incentives. “If you spend $10,000 at the moment we’ll offer you free bus transfers, or pre-dinner canapes, two-for-one breakfasts and so on. We’re always trying to give add-ons and to give back.”

The hotel’s events spaces range from a private dining room and spacious terrace where hosts can set up a bar, to the ballroom that can take up to 500 for cocktails. Some have natural light and many have the new 75-inch TVG screens, projectors and the latest in conference aids. The bedrooms, in a variety of configurations, have clean lines and pale colours that match the brand well. “We steer away from the normal; we’re not just the everyday normal, shall I say, boring, hotel. You see it in the fresh brand and in the attitude of the team members who work here.”

Why Wollongong? For a start there’s much to do, says Jade. The hotel is centrally located, adjacent to a beautiful beach, five minutes walk from a major shopping hub and close to many good eateries. “We don’t just sell the venue, we try to sell the destination,” she says.

“Wollongong is continually expanding, changing and updating, which fits well with our brand and model of meet, eat and explore.”

The beautiful coastal location and relatively light traffic make it a pleasant change from hustle-and-bustle of bigger cities, she adds, with rugged escarpments, heritage-listed parks, bush walks and sky diving and surfing schools providing options for delegates’ activities. A street market nearby on Thursdays showcases local produce. “And we’re only a hour’s drive from Sydney airport, or an easy train ride.”

NEGphotography_Sage Hotel__108The Sage team works closely with the WIN stadium and entertainment centre next door, supplying accommodation, car parking and so on. “We’ll often accommodate concert crews, and recently welcomed all the dancers and crew for the concert of pop singer Cher. In this respect we also have a good relationship with competitors in the area and liaise with them on functions and events – we’ll do lots more business like this is the next year. In addition, many people pop in here for drinks or something to eat before events.”

For those who’d prefer to relax around the hotel there are two restaurants – the Coldwater Creek Restaurant and Bar and the Five Islands Room and Terrace – with well-priced menus, as well as fitness facilities, a heated outdoor lap pool and business centre.

Much of the MICE business is local and from around the region though interest from Asian PCOs is growing quickly, says Jade. “We’ve brought on a new business development manager who’s been developing a range of opportunities, particularly from China,” she says.

“We’re currently seeking to attract more wedding business and to that end are currently updating our weddings packages. With social media, wedding organisers have become more aware of what it is they’re looking for in a venue and we’re looking to meet those needs.” 

From AUD59 per day

Half-day delegate packages start from $59 but the Sage almost always has special offers, says Jade, and is flexible and happy to consider offers and work to strict budgets. Room rack rates online are around $250 per night, but Jade and colleagues likewise offer deals on these.

Although the conference team runs promotions all year round, winter is generally a better time for really good deals. “The worst we can say is no, or great offer alternatives. More often than not we’re flexible and work to meet organisers’ needs.”

Sage hotels in Australia form part of the Next hotels and resorts group, with properties across Australia and southeast Asia.

More info, click here.

Email: reservations.wollongong@sage-hotels.com

Exec Double 2



Inhabitants of Wollongong, the mid-sized coastal city 80 kilometres south of Sydney, talk proudly about their town as New South Wales’s best-kept secret. I should know, I lived there for a year.

On my return to the city for the first time in a decade recently, I took a walk along the broad, clean stretch of sand in front of the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach Hotel, flanked on either side by pines and sparkling water, and was reminded that the folks who live there have a point.

RachaelThere wasn’t much traffic on nearby roads and the city has a kind of airy, leafy spaciousness, with the flats near the foreshore – along what’s colloquially known as Wollongong’s “blue mile” – invariably low-rise and looking new. It was a warm autumn afternoon, but there were only a handful of strollers on the beach and swimmers in the water. A few lounged at a beachfront café, taking it easy.

Not surprisingly, the operators of the four-and-a-half-star Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, which has been in the Accor family for over 20 years, see their location as a great asset and make good use of it. Touted as the only beachfront hotel in the city, it arranges events and weddings in 14 multi-function rooms and sprawling exhibition space, many of which have views of the sea. All the 204 guestrooms either have direct or oblique ocean views. The hotel has begun a refurbishment of the rooms, which is being completed in stages.

Its main rooftop deck, looking northwards over the beach, has a retractable roof, so it can be used for dinners, networking functions and weddings and parties in any weather, while one of its main eateries, Pepe’s, for example, is a great spot for guests to dine, relax and enjoy splendid water views.

“The beach in front of the hotel is patrolled 365 days a year which is another bonus,” says Associate Director of Sales Rachael Lihou (pictured above). “It also lends itself well to team-building activities, which our events staff can support by recommending local companies to assist clients – like yoga or tai chi on the beach, paddle-boarding or other team sports.”

MBPThere’s much else to do in Wollongong and surrounds as well, Rachael points out, from adventure sports like sky-diving, winery tours and golf at beautiful courses nearby.

“One of the key points I make when organisers are considering Wollongong and our destination is that it’s all easily accessible from Sydney, just an hour’s drive from Sydney airport,” she says. “The team at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach are flexible and always willing to go the extra mile to make the experience memorable.”

The hotel can host a variety of events or conferences up to 600 delegates in its ballroom, and guests can take advantage of spacious pre-function areas and outdoor terraces. It has a designated conferencing level with meetings and events spaces located on one floor, making it easy for delegates to move between sessions and breakouts.

“The majority of our conference clients are from Sydney; however we do have conferences that attract international delegates,” says Rachael. “For example we’ve just finished hosting an event for the Australian Coal Preparation Society, with around 200 delegates. We’re aware that events held at the hotel don’t just assist our property, but other companies in the region and we work very closely with all local businesses.”

Complete meeting package from AUD 75

Novotel Wollongong Northbeach’s complete meeting packages start from $75 per person for a full day. “But we’re flexible,” says Rachael, “and packages can be tailored to meet clients’ requirements.”

To find out more, check out the property’s meetings site here.

Or email H1654-sb3@accor.com.

Illawarra Room - Low Res