In the first week of June, representing Aviation Trader, the author, his wife, and five year old son, were invited by the General Manager of the brand new Hyatt Hotel, at Essendon Airport, to an overnight stay.

Officially named the “Hyatt Place Melbourne, Essendon Fields,” the hotel had a “soft opening” on 27 May 2017, with an official opening function planned for 15 June 2017.

Our question in advance was: Is this hotel suitable for general aviation pilots and their families? The answer was an emphatic yes!

Essendon Airport itself, under the guidance of CEO Chris Cowan CA, has been going through a significant up-surgeance of late. The opening of the hotel is one more significant investment, in a range of improvements being made.

The Hyatt Model

Worldwide Hyatt has 12 different brands. This is the first of the “Hyatt Place” type in Australia. It follows a successful roll out of 380 of them in other countries. This hotel embodies the combined learnings from all of them.

It’s a concept perfectly suited to pilot needs, and is based on providing high quality offerings in the areas that really matter, but limited or modified provision of the less important. Another description for this type of hotel is “modern essentials.”

Says hotel General Manager Norman Khan, “Our research shows that most travellers today want to get in, have a quick bite, work in a nice room with a good sized desk with internet access, watch some TV, and then get a great night’s sleep, in a high quality bed. That is what we offer. We like to talk about the four S’s being, Simple, Stylish, Seamless and Straightforward.”

The hotel itself does not have a restaurant, separate bar or conference centre. This saves huge sums in hotel build and allows the Hyatt to offer room rates about 30% less than a “normal” hotel. There is a high tech gym and a boardroom available if required. For those guests at Essendon that do need a restaurant or bar, there is one of each next door (not managed by the Hyatt).

In the case of this hotel, there is an attached 1,200m2 conference centre capable of seating 1,000 people. On the same site there are two supermarkets, cafes, a Post Office, childcare centre, one of Australia’s largest new car multi-dealer lots, a dentist, doctor, hair salon, cafes, ample parking, and multiple other shops.

From an aviation viewpoint there is a two long sealed runway, instrument approach and tower equipped airport, and all the usual training, passenger, corporate jet, rescue, helicopter and other facilities that go with that.

Hyatt Place Essendon

Hyatt Place Essendon has a great buffet style breakfast offering – free with every room, from a central ground floor area, a noon to 11pm “all day menu,” with reasonably priced “smile” food, and a 24 hour menu of snacks. The breakfast is to die for, with every taste, light or cooked, catered for.
The staff are attentive and chatty. They obviously really enjoy their jobs and many live locally – showing a close connection with the surrounding community. The assistant manager of the hotel, originally from Melbourne, has just returned to the hotel after four years at the same style of “Hyatt Place” hotel in Orlando, Florida.

The ground floor features large and comfortable stone and carpet combination meeting areas, and places to work, eat, or just relax. On entering the hotel pilots will get a sense of modern calm and relaxation. It’s not like bustling international airport hotels with “railway station” like atmospheres.

All in all there are seven floors, and all rooms have great views, many over the Essendon runways, but also towards the city skyline, international airport, the Dandenong’s, or Bacchus Marsh hills to the west. Some rooms have great views of aircraft on finals for Tullamarine International Airport just a few km away. There is a free on demand, air conditioned shuttle to and from Tullamarine – also very new looking.

The hotel is much larger inside than it looks from the outside, with triple rows of rooms, huge, wide, curved corridors, and large square panoramic, floor to ceiling east and west facing windows, at the ends of the corridors. There is also natural mood lighting and artwork of various types on the walls.

The rooms

The real feature of the hotel, as it should be, is its rooms. They are first class, and no expense has been spared. This is a hotel that has thought of everything. Every time the traveller reaches for something, it is there. It is obvious that the combined historical learning of the entire Hyatt group has gone into the design.

The rooms are large, modern, and built of high quality materials. Features include:

• The same quality king (154) or two queen (12) sized beds as in the best Hyatt hotels.
• A large L-shaped couch that folds out to make a bed suitable for a child or adult.
• A huge stone work desk with all the power and USB points a pilot could ever use, and adjustable lighting.
• Air conditioning with electronic wall mounted controls.
• Multi security systems including peep-hole, lockable handle and a special door open prevention device.
• Large high definition 49” television – to which devices can be connected wirelessly.
• Free high speed wireless internet – with multiple connections possible (not like some hotels, that to the frustration of loved ones, limit it to one).
• A fridge, multiple storage areas, tea and coffee making facilities, and lots of mirrors.
• A large stone bathroom with lots of space and four different creams and shampoos in addition to soap.
• Huge modern double or triple shower with oversized head and separate intimate washer.
• Lights and power points everywhere.
• Large drawable curtain covered glass windows with expansive outside views.
• Highly effective double glazing and insulated internal walls so that the rooms are exceptionally quiet.

Fellow travellers

Interviewing the fellow travellers at breakfast the next morning it seemed that the hotel was so good that the pilot secret was starting to leak out already. The first person was a cattle rancher from Queensland who already owns a Piper Cherokee but was at Essendon to pick up a new Cessna Crusader, and complete the rating for it. There was also a business woman using the hotel for an overnight stay instead of the “mass produced” accommodation at the international airport. She liked the free on-demand shuttle back and forth. There was also a young family who came just for the breakfast – yes it is that good.

Summary and outlook

Aviation Trader sees this hotel as becoming popular with pilots and general travellers quite quickly as word spreads. For pilots flying around Australia and looking for the perfect place to stay, easy to fly into, close to the city, and somewhere you can almost taxi to the door, this is it. It is a hotel that will appeal to the whole family.

If you ask, there is a discount for pilot ASIC Card holders.

The author’s wife made an interesting comment: “I love it. It’s perfect; I would love a big apartment in just this modern style.”

Key points:

1. Perfect location, offering, and pricing for pilots.
2. Modern, clean and well-staffed, pilot-friendly hotel, with large, comfortable, and well-appointed rooms.
3. Ideal for conferences.

About the Author

Paul M Southwick CA is a Melbourne based journalist, communications consultant, and pilot.