In Travel

Behind Four Seasons Sydney’s Multi-Million Dollar Facelift

In an incredible example of how simple design updates can change a space, the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney is enjoying a new lease on life thanks to an ongoing multi-million dollar transformation that kicked off in late 2018.

The substantial facelift has seen guest rooms elevated to maximise their trillion-dollar views, common areas reach a more refined standard and the hotel’s legendary whisky bar Grain take on a new concept.

With a little more than half of the hotel’s 498 guest rooms and all of its 33 suites defined by immaculate views scanning Circular Quay, the aim of the remodelling according to General Manager Bahram Sepahi, is to create spaces that give guests the sense of “soaring above the harbour” to fully appreciate Sydney’s famous aesthetic.

The design

Four Seasons Sydney

Award-winning Melbourne firm MIM Designs is responsible for transforming the Four Seasons Sydney’ guest rooms, opting for a purposeful and residential inspired reshaping that’s bright and modern with tech-forward features.

To understand the difference this makes, one need only walk the redone corridors, comparing them to older floors yet to benefit from the changes. It’s a striking comparison and remarkably simple. It’s all much brighter, with new paint and artworks, interrupted only by the polished timber that marks each guest room door.

A brighter and more contemporary look then continues in the remodelled guest rooms, all of which now have higher-end amenities like modern Bose bluetooth speakers and control panels for just about everything that requires electricity, all controllable from the plush signature bed, including the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.

Four Seasons Sydney

Even the art has been approached differently, now welcoming more of Sydney into the hotel.

“Bringing a sense of locality to the rooms, Anna-Wili Highfield was brought on board to create a sense of prints inspired by Australian animals,” says Sepahi. “The artworks were selected to create a residential feel to our guest rooms, providing a sense of knowing-ness and home.”

Space seems to be of paramount consideration. For example, a 52 square metre ‘Four Seasons Full Harbour Room’, already on the large side, feels like a full-sized apartment thanks to the clever rearrangement of furniture and fixtures. All optimal choices which play alongside the building’s triangular architecture. As the name suggests, the ‘Four Seasons Full Harbour Room’ takes in both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House in all their world-renowned glory.

The location

Four Seasons Sydney

With the Four Seasons brand emphasising location, it makes sense that Sydney’s hotel is in a prime spot too. Both Circular Quay and The Rocks are at its doorstep, making it one of the most centrally-placed luxury hotels in Sydney.

In The Rocks, you’ll find historic cobblestoned streets, lively night markets, historic pubs, quaint small bars, high-end restaurants, and the world-class Museum of Contemporary Art. Circular Quay’s nearby terminals are also appealing with visitors able to easily reach Cockatoo Islan, Manly, Watsons Bay and Taronga Zoo.

The bars and restaurants

The hotel’s frosted glass-encased MODE Kitchen and Bar, with its 1920s-inspired interiors featuring thick velvet banquettes, polished brass, and ripped marble, will remain very much the same. Nearby Grain Bar, however, will not. The bar has been given a fresh update with a new Head Bartender.

Straight from Regent Singapore’s acclaimed 19th Century inspired cocktail bar Manhattan, the number one bar in Asia and number three bar in the world (according to ‘World’s Best Bars’), is the talented Cedric Mendoza. And he’s set on making some big changes to Grain, which has traditionally been a whisky bar known for its top-shelf selection.

Mendoza wants to lead the bar in stripping cocktails back to their basics. Which is why he’s currently re-training staff to be able to perfect classics like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. “One of the hardest things for a bar team to do is maintain consistency,” he says.

“And in order for you to break the rules, you have to know them.”

Four Seasons Sydney

Once the basics are bested at Grain, it’ll switch its focus. Currently hinged on seasonality, it’ll instead concentrate on its namesake: grain. “We’ll be highlighting spirits based on grains, from corn-based vodkas and rye gin to spirits based on wheat and barley,” says Mendoza.

Much like the other changes sweeping the Four Seasons Sydney, this conceptual shift enhances the hotel’s sense of place, and will go far in ensuring this luxury address remains distinguished amongst Sydney’s upscale hotel scene for years to come.

The writer stayed as a guest of Four Seasons Sydney.

All images: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney / supplied.

Published 02 August, 2019