Open: June 2017
VISITORS to Tasmania seek so much more than cocktails and selfies that is what the owners of the new Macq01 believe. So this new hotel, opening in on the Hobart waterfront today (June 1) bills itself as the world’s first storytelling hotel. And if anybody can bring us something different, Federal Group can. The company’s innovatively designed Saffire Freycinet caused a stir when it opened in Tasmania in 2010 and the group also run the stylish Henry Jones Art Hotel further along the waterfront so we expect great things from this new sister property. On MacQuarie Wharf in the heart of Hobart MACq 01 tells the story of Tasmania’s history through its 114 rooms, each of which references a local character from its first people, inventors and explorers to convicts and heroes.
So how did the idea of an immersive storytelling hotel come about?
The owners of the hotel discovered that visitors see Tasmania as “an analogue place in a digital world.” So they created the hotel around stories of those who have shaped the Tasmanian landscape, past and present. Apparently Tasmanians fall into five character types: The Fighting Believers, The Hearty and Resilient, The Colourful and Quirky, The Grounded, Yet Exceptional and The Curious and Creative. Each of the rooms reflects one of these five Tasmanian character traits through its design and furnishing – a way to help guests “really begin to understand what makes us Tasmanian”. Each room also tells the story of a character who exemplifies the chosen trait, taking guest “deeper into the psyche of this intriguing destination”.
The heart of the hotel is the spectacular lounge with an open fire in the round, a modern version of the fires which aboriginals sat around telling stories. The space encourages guests to chat and tell their own stories. . A local stonemason crafted the fireplace with the idea of shared stories in mind. Continuing the theme the Lounge is decorated with aboriginal artefacts and tools.
The hotel also has an in-house Master Storyteller and a team of full-time Storytellers to entertain guests. You can take The 114 Doors Storytelling Tour which guides you through the patchwork of stories and artefacts that punctuate the hallways. The Storytellers also conduct complimentary guest tours of the Hobart Waterfront and the dark underbelly of the Wapping district which used to be a red light area. sS with the tales in the hotel itself the history of the area is told through its colourful characters
All this in a setting of what Federal likes to call “informal luxury”. The large rooms with interiors by Pike Withers have designer furnishings and very subtle references to the character they are named after. TLTB likes the Waterfront rooms with unspoilt views of the Derwent Estuary and the finishing line of the Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht race. The Executive corner suites have deep leather sofas and open fires.
Exterior architects, Circa Morris-Nunn who also designed Saffire, say the essence of their approach was to create a ‘re-purposed’ waterfront warehouse, where its provenance and history is still visible in its new form and they’ve succeeded.
Ultimately however the success of a hotel is not in its clever storytelling theme or its architecture but in just how comfortable guests feel. Macg01 wants guest to “write their own chapter” –we suspect the story it will a best seller.
Lisa Edwards 31/5/17