Review: Darwin’s Little Darling

The numbers say it all. Darwin is the place to be for conventions. It's tropical and kinky yet you don't need a passport to get there, and nothing like Adelaide or Sydney.

By Ian Neubauer

The numbers say it all. Darwin is the place to be for conventions. It’s tropical and kinky yet you don’t need a passport to get there, and nothing like Adelaide or Sydney. The crocs, the prawns, the swimming pools, the wacky nightlife… and what about the weather – it’s always hot.

Add Australia’s newest large-format convention centre to the equation, and you’ve got all the makings of a Disneyland for MICE.

The big hotel chains were quick to react, constructing and buying properties all over the shop. But one’s been there longer than most: Mantra on the Esplanade in the heart of the Darwin CBD.

Poolside cocktails? The Darwin Mantra on Esplanade offers guests a place
to relax which doubles as a cool space for small to medium sized events.

The first thing that’s great about this hotel is the view: panoramic windows that open up across Darwin Harbour. Sunset here is surreal, a veritable fresco of wild reds and canary yellows melting into one another in intricate layers over the sea – a sea that happens to be full of man-eating salties and big sharks and all kinds of nasty jellyfish. So don’t go swimming there, but feel free to hang at the Mantra pool, which doubles up as a cool place to hold small and medium sized events. Another funky option is one of two penthouses that can squeeze in 70-80 pax, and they’ve also a couple of boardrooms with all the gadgets for the serious stuff.

“Our point of difference is that we’re a lot smaller, in terms of meeting facilities than the average hotel in Darwin,” says general manager Sacha A’Bell.

“Our largest groups aren’t that big, so we’re much more flexible and can offer a more personalised service than the larger hotels. A lot of new places popped up when the Darwin Convention Centre was built and that’s great; they’re doing a roaring trade. But because we’re smaller, we can offer a more personalised service. Take the menu, for instance. If your client wants something that’s not on it, we can do that without fuss. A property catering for 400 or 500 delegates – that may pose a problem to them, or cost the client quite a bit extra to get it done. But for us, it’s easy.”

The Mantra on the Esplanade is currently offering discounts of up to 10 per cent on accommodation for groups. Suites and apartments with up to three bedrooms are available for short- or long-term stay, and they all come with 4.5-stars of professional service.

They were so nice to me, they even sent a bottle of shiraz up to my room. I’m not sure if they do that for everyone, come to think of it, they probably don’t, but hell, it went down like a treat while watching the sunset from my bed. It was spectacular.
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