The sun beats down on the banana trees, their sheet-like leaves dancing in the tropical breeze. The water in the pool sits somewhere between pleasantly warm and refreshingly cool. We swim to the bar at the end of the pool, sit on the submerged stools and order a drink with lots of ice and tropical fruit. We look out over a forest of steel and glass towers while several floors below office workers hit the streets as they head back home. This is the brand-new Westin Hotel in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD. A block from the river and a short walk to the sweeping lawns and rainforest of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, the Westin is positioning itself as the ‘well-being’ hotel.
With the gardens nearby and the Brisbane River boardwalk now extending several kilometres downstream to New Farm, running and walking for fun and fitness are considered a big part of your stay at the Westin. So much so that the hotel has teamed up with New Balance to provide guests with freshly laundered training gear and running shoes of all sizes, delivered to your room. If you’re more a cardio workout person there is a well-equipped gymnasium with running machines, weights, kettle bells and daily supervised sessions such as yoga by the pool.
Heavenly Spa is a Westin brand. While other hotels sub out their health and beauty treatment programmes Heavenly Spa has a consistent high level of quality throughout its hotels worldwide. Come for a Vitamin C facial or pull on a thick towelling robe, enjoy a cup of herbal tea then have every muscle in your body worked on by a trained remedial masseuse. Using hot oils and aromatherapy you come out not just feeling relaxed but rejuvenated.
Westin also has their Club Lounge. This is free for platinum members of their loyalty scheme but can be booked with your room. Entry allows for free breakfast buffet, papers, all day tea and coffee, snacks and drinks and nibbles after 5pm.
With the hotel only a few months old everything has a freshness about it: from the river reflection-inspired carpets to aeronautical influenced Charlie’s Bar. Being a curvaceous establishment sitting at street level and open to the passing parade of pedestrians gives smart European chic to this soft and moodily lit bar and casual eatery. Every evening a drinks-laden trolley is wheeled around from which glasses of the selected drink of the month – Champagne, rosé, pinot – are poured.
One floor above, overlooking the historic buildings of Mary Street, is the signature restaurant Eden’s Table. It is a stylish room with backlit onyx walls, jade finishes on the maitre’d station and wrap-around bar. At the heart of the open kitchen is a traditional parrilla (wood grill) over which are cooked great dry-aged steaks. In front of this is an island servery, filled with ice and covered in flipping fresh seafood. There could be perfectly grilled calamari or seared scallops with a small puck of grilled chorizo on top. The wine list is a smart and compact selection of fine Australian and international wines and there is a selection of classic desserts wheeled to the table on the dessert trolley.
‘We know travel can be hard,’ says Westin’s Michelle Scott. ‘But we want you to leave feeling better than when you arrived.’