The Sheraton Perth

by Continental Club on May 1, 2009

At a little after 9am on an already-warm, late Summer morning in 2003, the half-mile long, stainless steel-clad Indian Pacific pulled into East Perth railway station, almost four days after it had set out on its transcontinental journey from Sydney.

A waiting Ford Falcon taxi cruised from the station towards the city centre, windows open to the fresh air and brilliant blue sky outside. It drew up outside the Sheraton Perth Hotel 10 minutes later, and a surprisingly memorable stay at this otherwise unassuming outpost of the Starwood chain began.

The preparations for this 2009 stay, arguably, began a couple of weeks after we’d checked out in 2003 when, out of the blue, a letter arrived from the hotel’s General Manager.

He’d read that standard comment card that most hotels leave propped on a pillow and was writing to thank me for completing it. Far from a standard response however, it picked up on the specific detail that I’d written down.

His attention came as no great surprise by then, as everything we’d seen in the hotel under his command had borne the hallmarks of a superbly-run operation and, as we’d just seen in Singapore at the St Regis, an immensely proud staff.

So, once again, why would we stay anywhere else?

In the intervening years, a new General Manager has arrived and a massive refurbishment of the public areas and the redevelopment of a new Executive Wing has taken place. And yet, somehow, the Sheraton seems still to be the Cinderella Five Star hotel in the city – not quite as central as the Parmelia Hilton (though central Perth is almost purely commercial and shuts up shop at tea-time), not as dripping with resort amenities as the InterContinental Burswood and not as design-led as the Outram. The rather stark, early 70s architecture doesn’t necessarily inspire the aesthete either, and it does little to disguise the fact that this is a large hotel with almost 400 guestrooms.

Nevertheless, and despite the changes, the hotel still seemed to have that instantly comfortable feeling; a definite retreat from the outside world but with a purposeful hum that so often promises good service.

The hotel’s location is far from inconvenient however, not least as it rests on the airport side of the immediate City Centre. So, even earlier than our arrival 6 years ago, we draw up outside to find a doorman ready and waiting to take our bags and park the car, and a friendly Receptionist inside to handle registration.

It’s a delight to discover that we are able to check in to our room immediately – one of the newly refurbished Executive examples – and our bags are brought up moments after we slump onto the fabulous Sweet Sleeper bed. You may note the reference to the singularity of the bed, for this was genuinely the only, and extremely minor, glitch during our entire stay. The room had been booked as a Twin, so a quick call to Housekeeping had two staff up to separate the zip-link King and remake it as two singles. Job done in a matter of minutes and no inconvenience whatsoever.

There’s also a personal welcome, in the form of a letter from the new General Manager, waiting for us in the room and complimentary bottled water to rehydrate.

And late that night, when MCC and FCC finally checked in, we found that they’d been assigned the adjacent room to ours too, which was very much appreciated.

The prospect of a shower and a freshen up neatly prompted an exploration of the bathroom which in another example of attention to detail, was an accessible wetroom for GCC. The majority of bathrooms in the Executive Wing rooms, however, have a separate shower cubicle along with a bath which looks through an internal window back into the bedroom – which was the set-up in MCC and FCC‘s room.

The décor is bang-up-to-date, with a slight retro feel and a definite nod to the colours of the Australian bush and outback. It’s warm, welcoming, calming and comfortable.

In 2003, the Executive Club was little more than a couple of guest rooms, knocked together. It was intimate and cosy, helped enormously by a delightful staff who were friendly, interesting and hugely helpful in suggesting things to do in Western Australia. In fact, we’d planned to stay only two nights before heading elsewhere but, in the event and inspired by the staff’s recommendations, we stayed four nights so as to be better able to explore the area.

The ‘new’ Executive Club is in a completely different part of the hotel and is, by comparison, vast. There are distinct lounging and dining areas, newspapers, magazines, PCs and plasmas. Breakfast is significantly more than a mere continental affair, with hot selections daily and a wide spread of pastries, cereals, juices, fruits, cheese and cold meats. The only slight issue is the coffee machine which, as a bean-to-cup job, takes a while and can end up with a bit of a queue. The huge mugs don’t speed the process of filling either.

Weekend afternoons see an Afternoon Tea service, but otherwise it is evening time when the lounge comes alive again, with a range of hot canapés and cold nibbles to choose from and all of which are regularly replenished. The bar offers a wide variety of bottled beers, spirits, soft drinks and, unsurprisingly, an excellent presentation of superb Western Australian wines, including a sparkler.

Compared to the former facility, well, the new one is just completely different and yet, pleasingly, the staff all seemed to just go that extra step, every time. Can I get you another beer? Would you like to try a different one? It’s from here or there and is made this way. Whether on holiday or on business, that little bit of additional, personal interaction backed by knowledge and experience, is invaluable.

The lobby houses the hotel’s main bar, which is not a bad place from which to people-watch – although it’s a little away from the principal flow of guests from the main entrance. Next to the bar is the highly-rated fine dining restaurant, Origins, and there’s also a useful gift and convenience shop in the lobby. Concierge holds complimentary copies of local and national newspapers.

The main hotel restaurant, Monterey’s, is to the left of Reception and showcases vast buffets which take great advantage of the abundant produce available from both land and sea in the local area.

Below ground level, spa treatment rooms have recently been added, adjacent to the well-equipped gym. The pool is almost hidden though and barely seems to warrant a mention in any of the in-room information. The inquisitive will find it, outside and accessed through a door between Origins and the Bar. It’s far from expansive and is out of the sun for most of the day, but it’s fine for a refreshing splash.

Throughout our stay, and indeed in all our dealings pre-arrival too, we were treated to warm, friendly, professional and efficient service from every single staff member. Even the ubiquity of guests’ white Toyota rental cars didn’t seem to throw the door staff too greatly as they slickly directed the right people to the right cars. And, though the billing was not particularly complicated, it’s still all-too-rare an occurrence that a check-out invoice is presented accurately at the first attempt – but no such problems here.

Final Verdict for the Sheraton Perth: 8.5/10. Just like their Singapore colleagues, the staff were wonderful and the location ideal. The guest rooms were comfortable and well-equipped with those fantastic Sweet Sleeper beds, and the Executive Club a great example of its kind. A larger, more clearly-signed pool would be ideal, if a little impractical and I’m sure that the non-Executive rooms will benefit from an upgrade soon. The new General Manager seems as in-touch as her predecessor and I once again leave the hotel certain that it’ll be the accommodation of choice for any future visit to the city.


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