Special Report: LA’s Designer Hotels Win Over Aussie Travellers

Designer properties in Los Angeles are winning over Australian business and leisure travellers as bang for the buck takes centre stage.

By James Wilkinson in Los Angeles

Five years ago, the importance of the Australian market to Los Angeles hotels was barely a shadow on what it is today, thanks to low airfares, increased flights and a strong Aussie dollar.

Hip LA: the Thompson Beverly Hills hotel

Many hotels in California’s largest city would now place the Australia at the top of the list of international markets outside North America, given the willingness of travellers to spend more on accommodation after significant savings on airfares.

Australian guests aren’t just spending up at the major chains, but rather the opposite – seeking out boutique, designer hotels like The Viceroy, The Mondrian, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the uber-chic Thompson Beverly Hills.

According to the Thompson Beverly Hills’ Hotel Manager Nico Hallwass, the Australian market has been growing significantly in recent years, particularly since the inauguration of flights by Delta and V Australia, and product upgrades by Qantas and United Airlines on trans-Pacific routes.

“The Australian market continues to be one of Thompson Beverly Hills’ most significant markets both in current production and in its future potential,” he exclusively told SpiceNews.

“Future potential is unlimited particularly since so many Aussies use us as a ‘home base’ while they are travelling to other parts of North America and Europe.

“We often have people that check in for a few days, check out and go to New York where they stay at one of our sister properties, then on to Europe and then back here to Beverly Hills for a few days before they head back to Australia,” he said.

While the Thompson brand is familiar to a select few Australians, it continues to grow in popularity as more get to experience the unique boutique offering thanks to the weak US dollar and the chain’s hospitable charm.

“The Australian market has always been important to Thompson Beverly Hills on a number of levels,” Hallwass said. “First and most importantly the Australian traveller identifies strongly with the Thompson brand. 

“Aussies appreciate both authenticity and design and when the two are merged, as they are with Thompson Beverly Hills, the venue becomes a natural fit. Aussies are also naturally warm and friendly people and they respond to our staff as both of those characteristics are key in our hiring practice.

“Also I think the freedom that one can have when staying at the Thompson Beverly Hills is tremendous… the location is central to everything Los Angeles has to offer and is in an area that one can get out and walk to hundreds of venues, something that’s a rarity for Los Angeles,” he said.

Not just the location, but the hotel itself is proving to be the major drawcard for Australian travellers, thanks to its hip design, rooftop pool, food and beverage offerings and unique packages (such as a current tie-in with La Perla lingerie) the chain has been renowned for.

“The hotel is such a wonderful getaway and even its location is discreet,” he said. “That’s discreet, but central. The Thompson Beverly Hills is very professional without being overbearing or pretentious and I think that is something all of our guests appreciate.

“I know it is an oft used cliché however most of our guests are travellers that do view us as their home away from home,” he said.

Hallwass said the Australian market has helped the hotel’s positive, but cautious, outlook for 2010.

“Cautious optimism seems to be the phrase that we all can identify with,” he said. “There has been a slow but steady increase in all segments of the market.

“We are definitely seeing a big pick up in the corporate business market and the international market… we expect all segments to grow however we do expect this growth to be a measured one,” Hallwass said.

The author flew to LA with United Airlines. The airline flies daily to Los Angeles from Sydney, and from Melbourne via Sydney. A must is to fly in the new International Business Class cabin, which was recently upgraded by United and features flat-bed seats and hundreds of hours of entertainment on demand. Expect good Californian wine and top-notch cuisine, along with a selection of very decent Hollywood blockbusters to get you in the real LA mood. Visit www.united.com for bookings.

International Business Class on United Airlines

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