Spice issue 105 Winter 2024

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Issue 105 – Winter – 2024 Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores Events excellence on Sydney Harbour HOT 100 Celebrating the best hotels and events spaces INNOVATIVE CATERING Sustainable food and beverage at scale WINTER WARMERS Escape the chill with indoor comforts DESIRABLE DESTINATIONS Spotlight on Melbourne and NSW Southern Highlands


excellence on Sydney Harbour.

2024 Reflecting on the biggest event in a decade.

best hotels and venues

by Spice readers.

Winter warmers Welcoming venues to escape the chill.

Sharna Greig from Business

Adelaide. 60 Events Uncovered Counting down to the ninth instalment of Spice’s annual showcase event.


8 New
Going up, going down
and noteworthy
Cover story: Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores
Hot 100
Food and beverage Innovative big-venue catering.
56 ABEA Emerging Leaders
Winter 2024 16 36 48 14 spicenews.com.au 3 Contents
64 NSW Southern Highlands A regional hidden gem.
world-class business events city.

Full steam ahead for events in 2024

Hello and welcome to the winter 2024 issue of Spice It’s been a brilliant start to the year for the events industry. AIME 2024 in Melbourne, in February, has been heralded as a phenomenal success with the 31st edition the biggest in a decade. It was 65 per cent bigger than 2023 alone, reflecting the positive position Australasia's events industry is currently at.

Spice is proud to have presented the Ideas Academy at AIME 2024, with sessions featuring the industry's thought leaders and innovators, and engaged audiences soaking in knowledge and expertise. You can read a full wrap of AIME 2024 (including the unforgettable welcome party!) from page 16.

Gavin Dennett Editor

Managing Director

Simon Grover

Publisher Paul Wootton pwootton@intermedia.com.au

Editor Gavin Dennett gdennett@intermedia.com.au

National Sales Team

Charlotte Marshall & Katherine Ross


Jacqui Cooper & Tazlin Cantrill magazine.material@intermedia.com.au

Art Director

Ryan Vizcarra Prepress

Tony Willson

Subscriptions subscriptions@intermedia.com.au

The opinions expressed by contributors and advertisers in Spice magazine are not necessarily those of Food and Beverage Media's management or staff. All material contained in SPICE is copyright.

Attention now turns to Events Uncovered presented by Spice at MCA Australia on 23 July, 2024. The ninth edition of this single-day event promises to be an enriching experience for attendees, with the Showcase and Knowledge Sessions featuring industry experts imparting their wisdom and advice, innovative exhibitors, and plenty of excitement and fun. Tickets are selling fast so don't miss out on one of the events of the year. Read more from page 60.

This issue of Spice is our food and beverage edition, and the cover story features the culinary excellence of The Venues Collection's Watersedge at Campbell's Stores, on Sydney Harbour. We also have a feature on a new era of innovation for large-venue catering, as well as the dining establishments that will warm your heart this winter.

Also featured in this issue is our annual Hot 100 hotels and venues, as voted by Spice readers, and destination features on Melbourne and the NSW Southern Highlands. Enjoy!

ON THE COVER: Chefs from The Venues Collection.

Spice magazine's sales, marketing and design team

Charlotte Marshall cmarshall@intermedia.com.au

Ryan Vizcarra ryanv@intermedia.com.au

Visit spicenews.com.au for the latest industry news as it happens. Our twice-weekly updates cover venues, suppliers, destinations and technology, as well as inspiration and tips to help you plan stand-out events.

@SpiceNews @SpiceNewsMag @SpiceNewsMag Spice Magazine

Spice Magazine and spicenews.com.au are proud media partners of:


Spice Magazine is published by Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd (ABN 81 163 792 292)

41 Bridge Road, Glebe NSW 2037 ph: 02 9660 2113, fax: 02 9660 4419 ISSN 1832-7176

This publication is published by Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd (the “Publisher”). Materials in this publication have been created by a variety of different entities and, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher accepts no liability for materials created by others. All materials should be considered protected by Australian and international intellectual property laws. Unless you are authorised by law or the copyright owner to do so, you may not copy any of the materials. The mention of a product or service, person or company in this publication does not indicate the Publisher’s endorsement. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Publisher, its agents, company officers or employees. Any use of the information contained in this publication is at the sole risk of the person using that information. The user should make independent enquiries as to the accuracy of the information before relying on that information. All express or implied terms, conditions, warranties, statements, assurances and representations in relation to the Publisher, its publications and its services are expressly excluded save for those conditions and warranties which must be implied under the laws of any State of Australia or the provisions of Division 2 of Part V of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and any statutory modification or re-enactment thereof. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher will not be liable

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Events excellence on Sydney Harbour HOT 100 Celebrating the best hotels and events spaces INNOVATIVE CATERING Sustainable food and beverage at scale WINTER WARMERS Escape the chill with DESIRABLE DESTINATIONS Spotlight on Melbourne and NSW Southern Highlands
Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores
4 Spice Winter 2024 Editor’s letter

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Sydney

Discover fresh and innovative trends, suppliers, and venue offerings at the FREE showcase. Hear from the greatest minds in the event industry at the Spice Knowledge Sessions. Connect and network at the famous Uncovered Wrap Party.

NOW 23 JULY 2024

Tech-enhanced dining

One of the most exciting food trends is immersive dining experiences that incorporate gastronomy, art, technology, storytelling and music for a unique and entertaining multi-sensory experience.

Going up

Healthy food

Health and wellness remain top of mind for many clients. When curating an event menu, it’s now the norm to incorporate lighter and healthier options for all event attendees. Variety is key to accommodate special dietary needs and to deliver healthy food choices.

Natalie Le, managing director of The Event Room in Sydney, reveals what’s hot and what’s not in 2024.

No-alcohol and low-alcohol beverages

With event attendees increasingly conscious of their alcohol consumption, many clients are seeking a variety of non-alcoholic beverages such as tea-infused mocktails, bubble tea-inspired drinks, fresh juices and fun mocktails with interesting flavours.

Coffee, always

Personally, I’m not a coffee drinker, however I recognise that barista coffee is still a must-have at daytime events. We’re seeing a rise in companybranded coffee stencils and bespoke coffee cups featuring designs with different questions to spark conversation with other event attendees.

6 Spice Winter 2024 Trends

Donut walls

The once-popular vertical donut wall seemed like a good idea at the time, but in reality, the colours run and any company branding positioned on the actual donut tends to slide off as icing melts. What is intended to be a photo-worthy moment potentially ends up being a hot mess.

Overly complicated dishes

Simplicity is best when it comes to food. We’ve seen a decrease in extravagant food and beverage options – such as champagne towers – at corporate events. There is also a shift from oversized portions, especially with sustainability and waste reduction front of mind.

Going down

Last-minute dietaries

We have noticed that event attendees are no longer waiting until the last minute to share their dietary requirements with event organisers. It’s a more seamless process now as dietaries such as vegan, gluten-free and dairy free are mainstream, and the event industry is actively paying more attention to these needs of attendees.

Traditional events

Larger traditional events are on the decline, with more intimate and personalised gatherings now the focus for corporate clients. Event attendees want to network, make meaningful connections, and move around an event instead of staying seated the entire time. This means incorporating menus on the move.

spicenews.com.au 7 Trends

New + noteworthy

Courtyard by Marriott hotel debuts in Perth

Marriott International has unveiled its fifth hotel in Western Australia, with Courtyard by Marriott Perth, Murdoch opening its doors.

Located in the south Perth suburb of Murdoch – 10 minutes from the CBD and 25 minutes from Perth International Airport – the hotel has been developed in partnership with Western Australian property developer Hesperia.

“Courtyard by Marriott Perth, Murdoch marks the brand’s first hotel in Western Australia as part our ambitious expansion strategy,” says Diana Plazas-Trowbridge, senior vice president and global brand leader for Marriott Select brands.

“We are excited to continue opening hotels in significant urban growth corridors, and the Murdoch Health and Knowledge precinct being Western Australia’s newest healthcare and commercial district is an ideal fit for Courtyard by Marriott, allowing the hotel to appeal to a broad range of leisure and business travellers.”

The hotel features 150 guest rooms; meeting and conference spaces; a 24-hour fitness centre; and all-day contemporary dining venue Substance Restaurant & Bar.

Its Dampiera Library is a bespoke space geared for small corporate groups and conferences, featuring a modern pre-function area, and a meeting room with floor-to-ceiling windows and balcony, which can accommodate up to 40 guests in a cocktail set-up.

“Each facility in the hotel is aimed at creating an environment where great things can happen, enabling our guests to focus on productivity or simply relax,” says Courtyard by Marriott Perth, Murdoch general manager James Illing.

“Connecting travellers through comfortable and innovative spaces, intuitive service and a commitment to personal fulfilment is at the foundation of what we offer at Courtyard by Marriott Perth, Murdoch. We look forward to welcoming guests to experience this.”

New events venue for Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has released images of its soon-to-be-completed corporate venue on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The wedding and corporate events space, known as “The Homestead”, is in its final stages of construction ahead of its opening in May 2024.

Designed in collaboration with global leisure and entertainment company Pico Play, the 841-square-metre property draws inspiration from the famed “Queenslander” style of home, complete with wrap-around verandah, high ceilings and sandstone fireplace.

The venue can seat 200 guests for private functions.

“We designed the facility as the centrepiece of our new ‘Outback Springs’ precinct – the most significant in the sanctuary’s 75-year history – following extensive guest feedback and the opportunity to fill a gap in the market for a premium event space offering,” says Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary general manager Travis Couch.

According to Destination Gold Coast, the corporate events industry in the southeast Queensland region continues to grow post-COVID-19, with 99 business events bringing in $202 million for the local economy in the 2022-2023 financial year.

“With this increase in major corporate events, we expect a venue such as The Homestead will be highly sought after,” says Couch. “The concept of paddock-to-plate is at the

forefront of our dining experience at The Homestead, keeping in mind our heritage and the community to ensure our dishes are reflective of the region.”

The venue will also feature an outdoor bar and alfresco dining area.

“Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is already a popular location for weddings and events, and The Homestead offers couples and event organisers a unique, premium facility,” says Couch.

8 Spice Winter 2024 Upfront

Refurbishment for Adina Town Hall in Sydney

Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Town Hall is undergoing a multimillion-dollar refurbishment. The 27-storey hotel in the Sydney CBD – which features cityscape views, four conference spaces, a pool, gym and 145 apartments from studio size to three-bedroom offerings – shut down operations on 16 April, 2024, and will be closed until renovations are complete in December.

“This major-scale project represents a huge repositioning of the asset, and supports our contemporary vision for the Adina brand,” says TFE Hotels’ group chief operating officer, Chris Sedgwick. “Elevating the Adina brand and hotel experience across our network is our goal – city by city and hotel by hotel. Adina Town Hall – which launched in 1998 – is the latest in the TFE Hotels portfolio to undergo an extensive update as part this rolling refurbishment program.

“Sydney is a massive focus for us in 2024 with Adina in Darling Harbour also in our sights. It’s an exciting time for TFE Hotels and our homegrown Adina Hotels brand.”

Sustainable design firm Bates Smart is at the helm of the hotel’s new interior design, with its aim being to create a home-away-from-home experience for guests, with a touch of casual elegance. The completed guest rooms will look and feel like contemporary long-stay apartments, and lighting will be a key design element.

Adina Town Hall is owned by TOGA Group.

Rockhampton launches accessible tourism campaign

Rebrand for Japan’s largest hotel chain

Japan’s largest hotel chain, Seibu Prince Hotels Worldwide Inc, has combined its three hotel companies under the one new brand. The trio of hotel companies – Seibu Prince Hotels Worldwide, StayWell Holdings and Prince Resorts Hawaii – is now branded under the one name: Seibu Prince Hotels & Resorts.

“This integration strengthens our domestic and international strategies, paralleling our ambitious expansion plans,” says Yoshiki Kaneda, president of Seibu Prince Hotels Worldwide. “We aim to grow to 250 hotels and deliver exceptional value and unforgettable experiences for every guest.”

As part of the company’s rebrand, it has introduced Seibu Prince Global Rewards, a program merging existing domestic and international memberships.

Members can earn and redeem points across the entire portfolio, including accommodation, restaurants, retail outlets, golf courses, ski resorts and facilities operated by Seibu Group in Japan.

The Queensland city of Rockhampton has launched a new tourism campaign focused on inclusivity for travellers with a disability. The city’s lead tourism, marketing and major events agency, Advance Rockhampton, has launched the “Explore Rockhampton Accessible Tourism Campaign”, with the first phase showcasing local experiences that demonstrate mobility inclusiveness.

Subsequent phases in the ongoing campaign will include experiences for people who are hard of hearing or deaf, and with low vision or blindness.

From guided tours to outdoor adventures, the Explore Rockhampton campaign is promoting activities accessible to all visitors, from a meerkat encounter at Rockhampton Zoo to catching a barramundi from an accessible land-based fishing platform. Included in the campaign is technical aspects such as hallway width, lift access, ramps and amenities.

Local operators have access to a campaign toolkit with a suite of images and videos to download and use for promotional purposes.

Upfront spicenews.com.au 9

Vibe Hotel Melbourne Docklands welcomes first guests

Vibe Hotel Melbourne Docklands has opened for business, welcoming its first guests on Monday, 8 April, 2024.

Back in February, TFE Hotels announced its takeover of the former Four Points by Sheraton on the Docklands site, rebranding the 273-room hotel as Vibe Hotel Melbourne Docklands – the 12th hotel for the Vibe Hotel brand and second in Melbourne.

The hotel’s general manager, Nigel Maxey, was joined by senior TFE Hotels figures for the opening, including chief operating officer, Chris Sedgwick; senior director of operations, ANZ, Tish Nyar; and regional general manager, Victoria, Stephen Moore.

Vibe Melbourne Docklands is located close to Marvel Stadium and boasts harbourside and CBD views.

TFE’s global sales officer, Shahnaz Bakhshay, says the hotel holds broad appeal across all market segments

Three city hotels to convert to SureStay brand

BWH Hotels has signed three properties in Sydney and Brisbane that the company will convert to economy SureStay Hotels.

Renovations have begun on two of the conversion properties in Sydney – located in the CBD and in St Leonards, in the city’s north – which will become economy SureStay hotels. Work is expected to be completed on both properties in late 2024.

The Brisbane property, located at Mount Gravatt in the city’s south, will become the first extended-stay SureStay Studio, with its existing residential apartments converting into two-bedroom accommodation.

The three SureStay properties are designed to appeal to the growing budget-conscious travel sector.

“SureStay Hotels has experienced remarkable growth in recent years … our premium economy products have become one of the fastest-growing brands in the hotel industry,” says Rod Munro, managing director, BWH Hotels Australasia.

“SureStay is resonating with investors as we navigate the current economic crisis. With a strong pipeline and interest from new developers, we look forward to continuing to expand SureStay’s presence across the region.”

thanks to its accessible location, deluxe queen and queen room stock, and versatility in the MICE space.

“As a precinct, Docklands brings together the best of Melbourne’s dining, conferencing, events and accommodation in one buzzing spot, making Vibe Docklands an attractive proposition for our leisure, conference and special events guests,” she says.

“We have no doubt the deluxe queen-queen rooms will be very popular with families.

“We’re also excited to add seven meeting rooms – including the Sky Room with its skyline views – to the Melbourne portfolio, along with a private bar, two outdoor terraces, and wellness facilities such as the heated rooftop lap pool, 24-hour fitness centre, pool, spa and steam room.”

Sister property, Vibe Hotel Melbourne, also launched rooftop venue Fleet – conceptualised by Melbourne interior designer Paul Kelly – on Friday, 12 April, 2024.

The two new Sydney properties brings the number of BWH hotels in the harbour city to eight, with five in Brisbane.

Launched eight years ago, the SureStay portfolio consists of economy and premium economy brands SureStay, SureStay Plus, SureStay Studio and SureStay Collection.

“When labour and construction costs are at historical highs, a premium economy brand represents the ideal solution for cost-effective asset repurposing, serving as a gateway to a global brand,” says Danilo Curcuruto, BWH Hotels Australasia’s director of development. “It’s great to see Australia catching up with the appreciation for this underestimated segment, which delivers consistency in performance, flexibility and a targeted approach to an emerging customer database.”

Globally, the SureStay portfolio boasts more than 450 properties with 30,000 rooms.

10 Spice Winter 2024

Work begins on new Crystalbrook Collection hotel in Canberra

Crystalbrook Collection is expanding to the ACT, with work commencing on a new hotel that is set to open in the first quarter of 2027.

The new-build hotel is being constructed in partnership with prominent Canberra developer Tony Pan from TP Dynamics. It will form part of a 10-storey mixed-use commercial and hotel development on Bunda Street, encompassing the current Garema Arcade building.

“With the announcement of our new Canberra property and continued expansion of the group across Australia – with recent expansion into Adelaide and the acquisition of a second property in Sydney – my vision for Crystalbrook Collection as a truly national hotel group is coming to fruition,” says Crystalbrook Collection founder Ghassan Aboud (pictured, below right, with Tony Pan, left, and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, centre).

“This growth of our brand across Australia is delivering a strong base for future expansion of Crystalbrook Collection into overseas markets.”

The Canberra property will feature 238 guest rooms, a rooftop bar and restaurant, ground floor dining venue, a luxury retail operator, a ballroom, meeting and function rooms, Crystalbrook’s Eléme Day Spa, gym facilities, a pool and a central skylight atrium and gardens.

TP Dynamics has secured building approval, and construction is already underway following a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, 28 March, 2024.

“At TP Dynamics, we are committed to the vision for Canberra’s evolution, and we are proud to contribute to the city’s next phase of growth,” says Pan. “Crystalbrook’s ethos and values are consistent with our goals for central Canberra’s revitalisation. Together, we are delighted to build a legacy for the city.”

Visitor numbers to Canberra are on the rise, with the national capital tourism board reporting 5.7 million visitors in 2023, generating $3.7 billion revenue.

Laissez-faire catering to supply three new Sydney venues

Sydney-based Laissez-faire Catering has won new contracts to supply cuisine to three venues across the Harbour City.

The company will join a panel of suppliers at Luna Park Sydney’s new Big Top venue, as well as being the exclusive in-house management partner for Urban Winery Sydney at The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park.

Laissez-faire Catering will also be food caterers at Machine Hall, a new 1000-square-metre industrial-meets-heritage space in the Sydney CBD.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the team,” says Laissez-faire Catering general manager Sara Flaksbard.

“We not only deliver what is promised, but constantly innovate, staying ahead of industry trends and thinking differently for our partners.

“Each of these collaborations mirrors our steadfast commitment to delivering extraordinary food and beverage experiences.

“Our values are deeply rooted in sustainability and ethical food practices, exemplified by our strong foundation of working closely with local producers and suppliers in NSW.

“As we embark on this expansion journey, we are dedicated to

bringing sustainability, community engagement, and the five-star restaurant experience to events.”

The company’s cuisine supply to Luna Park promises a fun and vibrant approach to food.

“The addition of Laissez-faire Catering to our panel of suppliers adds great strength to what we can offer the corporate market,” says Luna Park Sydney CEO John Hughes. “Their reputation and experience as a trusted caterer to Sydney venues for 35 years precedes them. We look forward to tapping into this expertise, standard of delivery and creativity for our guests to match our new Big Top offering, spectacular park and iconic views of Sydney.”

Machine Hall has a focus on curating some of the most innovative cultural experiences, brand events and private celebrations in Sydney.

“We are driven to work with the best of the best in everything we do so our alignment with Laissez-faire Catering just makes sense,” says Machine Hall general manager Trish Rogers. “Bringing with them a depth of experience and expertise in the gastronomical space, Laissez-faire Catering delivers elevated standards of service and creativity.”

12 Spice Winter 2024 Upfront

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The recipe for successful events

Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores, in The Rocks, is one of Sydney’s premier venues which elevates event experiences by offering culinary innovation and inclusivity that reflects diverse tastes and trends.

WUnforgettable instalments and brand activations for recent events at the picturesque venue, as well as the culinary team that delivers sensory dining experiences for guests.

ith a capacity of more than 8000 guests*, The Venues Collection has its sights set on making its flagship venue, Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores, the ultimate destination for brand activation and mega events on Sydney Harbour.

It combines breathtaking views of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge with the venue’s heritage allure, hospitality expertise and inclusive culinary team, and leverages its food ethos to help clients achieve their event goals.

“We recognise the pivotal role food plays in events,” says Philip Beauchamp, a director of The Venues Collection. “During the past two decades, we’ve witnessed its power to enhance social interaction. More recently, luxury brands such as Dior have used it to elevate brand engagement with their target audience.”

In 2023, event organisers managed a surge in dietary preferences driven by lifestyle

choices. Forward-thinking event agencies began strategically incorporating cultural representation to introduce a diverse array of flavours through food stations, fostering inclusivity, psychological safety and guest appreciation.

In an era dominated by social content – where “the phone eats first” – delivering a sensory dining experience has become a priority. Event food must engage multiple senses, tantalising taste buds with thoughtfully plated dishes, aromas and vibrant colours. Importantly, the story behind the food’s source adds depth and richness to an event’s atmosphere.

Top priority for The Venues Collection’s culinary team is crafting an experience that energises and engages guests. It focuses on serving nourishing, well-balanced cuisine while minimising food waste, supporting local producers and ensuring guest satisfaction.

Above: Watersedge at Campbell's Stores, on Sydney Harbour, illuminated at night. Right:
14 Spice Winter 2024 Cover story

Beauchamp emphasises his event management team proactively suggests what works best for clients and their guests. For those preferring a restaurant-quality meal in intimate settings, organisers can choose from a variety of cuisines offered by the five restaurants at Campbell’s Stores. For those who take on chef’s selections, Japanese restaurant Bay Nine Omakase promises beautifully plated surprises.

The culinary team also recommends new event cuisine concepts such as complementing food stations featuring Australia’s finest ingredients with roving plant-based entrees and non-alcoholic beverages for large cocktail parties. From potato and chickpea sliders to artfully crafted whipped tofu and lemon aspen tarts, these delights are visually stunning and delicious, proving plant-based cuisine’s potential for culinary excellence.

For banqueting events centred around meaningful connections, the team suggests offering a selection of petite plates during pre-meal networking drinks instead of a seated entree. From kingfish ceviche to delicate canapes topped with locally sourced cheeses and charcuterie, each petite plate offers a symphony of flavours perfectly suited for socialising. n

*Capacity varies based on production set-up and utilisation of promenade areas and selected spaces in neighbouring venues such as the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

spicenews.com.au 15 Cover story

Boom times for business events

With the dust settled on AIME 2024, Spice reflects on the biggest instalment of the event in a decade, writes Gavin Dennett.

Thousands of business professionals converged on Melbourne in February for the 2024 Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME), with the trade show being heralded as one of the biggest and best in its 31-year history.

AIME 2024 was held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the event welcomed people from around the world for a show that was a whopping 65 per cent bigger than in 2023.

With the business events industry bouncing back from COVID-19, the vibe on the show floor was overwhelmingly positive with a groundswell of activity and collective future focus. This sentiment is supported by numbers, with the blockbuster AIME 2024 being the biggest instalment in a decade. More than 4000 people attended, and business traded between exhibitors and buyers during the week is estimated to be worth more than $330 million for the next 12 months.

There were more than 570 exhibitors, 595 hosted buyers and 17,000 meetings occurring on the show floor across the two days, with more than 89,500 connections being made.

The success of AIME 2024 is more remarkable given it was held at the same time Taylor Swift mania was sweeping Melbourne, with the US pop superstar performing her colossal MCG shows on the same weekend international buyers arrived in town on the eve of the event.

“Fortunately, we were locked in first [before Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour' was announced],” AIME 2024 event director Silke Calder tells Spice. “When hotel prices go up from $250 to $800 a night, it has a big impact on us. Luckily, everybody got in early with accommodation. But my learning is to lock in hotels for next year straight away because we don’t know who could be coming.”

16 Spice Winter 2024 AIME 2024
AIME 2024’s welcome party, Neon Carnival, at Grazeland

Other key outcomes from post-show analysis reveals:

• More than 90 per cent of exhibitors were satisfied with their attendance at AIME, which puts it in the top 10 per cent of trade shows around the world for visitor satisfaction.

• Almost one in two visitors were first-time AIME attendees.


3 1

• More than 85 per cent of visitors report their objectives for attending AIME were met.

• More than nine in 10 exhibitors are likely to return next year.

“The growth of AIME 2024 was phenomenal, and we are thrilled these post-show results confirm that success,” says Calder of her third AIME delivered with her team from Talk2 Media and Events, on behalf of Melbourne Convention Bureau. “AIME’s winning formula comes down to the unmatched lengths we go to vet our hosted buyers, together with pre-qualified appointments exhibitors receive through our AI-powered meeting matching platform.

“AIME wouldn’t be the success it is without the great support of the global business events industry and, of course, our incredible sponsors who help us deliver an outstanding event. So many of our exhibitors have reserved their space again for next year so they don’t miss out on the connectionbuilding that AIME’s unique Australian flavour facilitates. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back for 2025.”

AIME’s appeal to international exhibitors is on the rise, with 2024 seeing 63 per cent growth in this area from 2023. Exhibitors came from countries including the US, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, UK, Ireland, India and Canada. In total, 33 countries were represented.

“International buyers took the longest to trust the market here again [after COVID-19] and flights are still expensive, but our international reach is very pleasing,” says Calder. “I would love more buyers ›

1. Julz Partington from Encore Event Technologies presenting at the Ideas Academy presented by Spice 2. The AIME 2024 team, with event director Silke Calder fourth from right. 3. Spice editor Gavin Dennett with Lorelle Chittick, general manager, tourism, business and major events, Brisbane Economic Development Agency.
spicenews.com.au 17 AIME 2024
Foodie haven Grazeland turned it on for AIME 2024's welcome event

from China, for example, so hopefully that is something we can increase once flight prices are more stable.

“When I look back three years, the event was so different. I really feel we are back, people are spending more money on their stands and making an effort, and buyers are impressed. But our goal is not to double or triple every year. It is all about the quality of the show. We have to deliver the right buyers to the right visitors, but feedback we have is that exhibitors feel they have to be here.”

On the show floor across the two days of AIME 2024, the Ideas Academy presented by Spice was a roaring success. Across 10 keynote speaker sessions and panel discussions – delivered silently via headphones from the events industry’s thought leaders – expert information and knowledge sharing was well received by attendees, with most slots at capacity.

Each session delivered high-quality, informative content with practical takeaways for attendees to implement in their businesses. Topics covered included event marketing, sustainability, food and beverage, entertainment, team building, First Nations culture and wellness.

On the day prior to AIME 2024’s show floor opening, 1850 people attended AIME’s Knowledge Program at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. With a theme of “The 4 Ps of Glocalisation”, attendees enjoyed plenary sessions and educational workshops.

The day was capped by the spectacular Neon Carnival welcome event at foodie playground Grazeland, west of the city. The venue turned it on with vendors serving up cuisine and drinks at a fun-filled, colourful and vibrant party.

Curated by Fernando Barraza and his team at Cirkus Bizurkus, the welcome event featured performers in incredible costumes, brilliant designs and an unforgettable performance by Discovery, Melbourne’s tribute to French dance music superstars Daft Punk, to which attendees danced the night away. n

“AIME wouldn’t be the success it is without the great support of the global business events industry and, of course, our incredible sponsors who help us deliver an outstanding event.”
AIME 2024's bustling show floor
18 Spice Winter 2024 AIME 2024
The Ideas Academy presented by Spice
Elevate your event expectations. Meetings and Events Venue of the Year | Caterer of the Year | Best Hotel Bar of the Year skycityadelaide.com.au
on the
20 Spice Winter 2024 Hot 100
Pan Pacific Melbourne Yarra River

HOT 100


The votes are in for Spice’s annual Hot 100 hotels and venues. Our readers have spoken, putting forward their nominations for the best events spaces across Australia and New Zealand. From large convention centres and stadiums, to hotels, restaurants and retreats, here are the gongs for the best of 2024.

spicenews.com.au 21 Hot 100

Amora Hotel Brisbane

“Amora Hotel has been my go-to for business travel in Brisbane for years.”

Brisbane, Queensland | @amorabrisbane

The Ritz-Carlton, Perth

Perth, Western Australia | @ritzcarltonperth

Dorsett Gold Coast

Gold Coast, Queensland | @dorsettgoldcoast

Grand Hyatt Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria | @grandhyattmelbourne

The Fullerton Hotel Sydney

Sydney, NSW | @fullertonhotelsydney

Crystalbrook Albion

Surry Hills, Sydney, NSW | @crystalbrookalbion

Ace Hotel Sydney

Sydney, NSW | @acehotelsydney

Emporium Hotel South Bank

Brisbane, Queensland | @emporiumhotels

Jonah’s Restaurant and Boutique Hotel

Palm Beach, NSW | @jonahswhalebeach

Hotel Indigo Melbourne on Flinders

Melbourne, Victoria | @hotelindigomelbourne

Hyatt Regency Sydney

Sydney, NSW | @hyattregencysydney

W Brisbane

Brisbane, Queensland | @W_Brisbane

Crown Metropol

Melbourne, Victoria | @crownmelbourne

Pan Pacific Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria | @panpacificmelbourne

InterContinental Adelaide

Adelaide, South Australia | @interconadl

Hyatt Regency Sydney Amora Hotel Brisbane Best business hotel Best convention centre hotel Best boutique hotel Dorsett Gold Coast
22 Spice Winter 2024 Hot 100
Crystalbrook Albion

Studio 1 W Melbourne

“Studio 1 is the best of so many spaces to choose from at W Melbourne.”

Best venue or studio for virtual/hybrid events

Studio 1 W Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria | @wmelbourne

Loghic Events

Haymarket, NSW | @loghicconnect

Connected Event Group Broadcast Studio

Sydney, NSW | @Connectedeventgroup

ICC Sydney

Sydney, NSW | @iccsydney

Encore Hybrid Studio

Sydney, NSW | @encoreapac

Hot 100
ICC Sydney
“ SPICE READERS LOVE: Bannisters by the Sea “Mollymook is an absolutely beautiful part of the world.”

Bannisters by the Sea Mollymook, NSW | @bannistershotels

Lorne Hotel

Lorne, Victoria | @lornehotelview

Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park Werribee, Victoria | @lancemorehotels

The Sebel Yarrawonga

Yarrawonga, Victoria | @sebelyarrawonga

Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley

Windsor, NSW | @cphawkesburyvalley

Best regional conference venue

Batavia Coast Conference Centre

Geraldton, Western Australia | @bataviacoastconferencecentre

Chateau Elan at The Vintage Hunter Valley, NSW | @chateauelanhuntervalley

The William Inglis Hotel – MGallery Hotel Collection

Warwick Farm, NSW | @thewilliaminglis

The Trawool Estate

Trawool, Victoria | @trawool_estate

Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas

Noosa Heads, Queensland | @pepperesnoosaresort

Best MICE hotel in New Zealand

Park Hyatt Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand | @parkhyattauckland

Hilton Lake Taupo

Hilltop, Taupō, New Zealand | @HiltonHotels

JW Marriott Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand | @jwmarriottauckland

Cordis Auckland Hotel

Auckland, New Zealand | @cordisauckland

Crowne Plaza Queenstown

Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand | @crowneplazaqueenstown

Best regional hotel The Trawool Estate Crowne Plaza Queenstown
24 Spice Winter 2024 Hot 100
The Sebel Yarrawonga
Enjoy panoramic and dynamic views of the Melbourne City Skyline AT THE NEW MARVEL STADIUM ROOFTOP Book your next function now marvelstadium.com.au/elevate


“Stunning location with epic views. Loved the spa treatment.”

Bowen Hills, Brisbane, Queensland | @brisbaneshowgrounds Best resort

RACV Cape Schanck Resort

Cape Schanck, Victoria | @racvcapeschanckresort

JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa

Gold Coast, Queensland | @jwmarriottgoldcoastresort


Hamilton Island, Queensland | @qualiaresort

Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas

Noosa Heads, Queensland | @pepperesnoosaresort

Saffire Freycinet

Coles Bay, Tasmania | @saffirefreycinet

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Melbourne, Victoria | @mcec

Spring Bay Mill

Triabunna, Tasmania | @springbaymill

Element Melbourne Richmond

Melbourne, Victoria | @elementmelbourne

voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley

Pokolbin Hunter Valley, NSW | @vocokirktonparkhv

Brisbane Showgrounds


wellness hotel or resort

Billabong Retreat

Sydney, NSW | @billabongretreat

Elements of Byron Resort

Byron Bay, NSW | @elementsofbyron

Spicers Sangoma Retreat

Bowen Mountain, NSW | @spicerssangomaretreat

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

Tallebudgera Valley, Gold Coast, Queensland | @gwinganna

Alba Thermal Springs & Spa

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria | @albathermalsprings

qualia Brisbane Showgrounds Spicers Sangoma Retreat
26 Spice Winter 2024 Hot 100
Most sustainable hotel or venue

Wellness Makes Good Business Sense

Elevate your event with wellness at Elements of Byron. Our award-winning spaces and luxury accommodations, nestled along Byron Bay’s beachfront, offer a holistic experience for your conference. Engage your team and transform your business. Designed with wellness. Luxury accommodation. Absolute Byron Bay beachfront.


(02) 6639 1517 | events@elementsofbyron.com.au elementsofbyron.com.au/groups-and-events


Jin Bar

“A fantastic moody spot for cocktails after dark.”

Machine Hall

Sydney, NSW | @machinehallprecinct

Reign QVB

Sydney, NSW | @reignattheqvb

Flex by ISPT Collider

Sydney, NSW | @TheCollider_

Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores

Sydney, NSW | @watersedge_events


Melbourne, Victoria | @showtimeeventgroup

Best private dining venue


Melbourne, Victoria | @cecconisflinderslane


Melbourne, Victoria | @warabimelbourne


Sydney, NSW | @12micron

Luna Lu and Bar Lulu

Sydney, NSW | @lunalutherocks


Perth, Western Australia | @fleurtherestaurant

Best hotel bar

W Brisbane

Brisbane, Queensland | @W_Brisbane

Songbird Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Perth

Perth, Western Australia | @ritzcarltonperth

Zephyr Sky Bar

Sydney, NSW | @zephyrbarsyd

Jin Bar

Melbourne, Victoria | @jinbarmelbourne


Sydney, NSW | @astersydney

Zephyr Sky Bar Warabi Best venue for a product launch
28 Spice Winter 2024 Hot 100
Machine Hall

Best hotel restaurant


Sydney, NSW | @kilnsydney

Misono, JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa Gold Coast, Queensland | @jwmarriottgoldcoastresort

Harrisons by Spencer Patrick Port Douglas, Queensland | @harrisonspd

Dolly at Le Meridien Melbourne Melbourne, Victoria | @dollymelbourne


Brisbane, Queensland | @Hellenika

Misono, JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
“Love the Jatz crackers with smoked butter and anchovy. Such novel reimagining of an Aussie classic.” +61 2 4998 2603 events@thevintage.com.au www.chateauelan.com.au
australia’s finest resorts, offers luxury accommodation, a premium golf club, a full-service spa and four event spaces - all in the heart of a world-famous food and wine region. spicenews.com.au 29 Hot 100
the award-winning château élan in the hunter valley is
“Very well organised with flexible spaces and friendly staff.”

Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre

Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland | @gccec

ICC Sydney

Sydney, NSW | @iccsydney

Darwin Convention Centre

Darwin, Northern Territory | @darwinconvention

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Melbourne, Victoria | @mcec

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Brisbane, Queensland | @bcec_brisbane

Best venue for a gala dinner Best convention centre catering

Flames of the Forest

Port Douglas, Queensland | @flamesoftheforest

The Calyx, Botanic Gardens of Sydney

Sydney, NSW | n/a

Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre

Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland | @gccec

Le Montage

Lilyfield, Sydney, NSW | @Bynavarra

The Westin Perth

Perth, Western Australia | @westinperth

Best small venue in Australia (1-50 pax)

Henson Gallery

Melbourne, Victoria | @billhensonphoto

Mary Mary

Hobart, Tasmania | @marymarybar

Bay Nine Omakase

Sydney, NSW | @baynine_

QT Sydney

Sydney, NSW | @qtsydneyhotel

The Apartment

Woollahra, Sydney, NSW | @merivale

“ SPICE READERS LOVE: Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
Bay Nine Omakase Le Montage
30 Spice Winter 2024 Hot 100
Darwin Convention Centre

Voted as the BEST MEGA VENUE in Australia by Spice Hot 100, South Wharf Promenade offers unique indoor and outdoor spaces suited to a diverse range of events, including conferences, social events and gala celebrations. For everything from 50 guests to our one-of-a-kind 5,000 guest Promenade Parties, the location is exceptional. Located at the doorstep of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on the city fringe, attendees and exhibitors can easily activate iconic venues such as Showtime Event Centre, the River Pavilion, Aerial, Cargo Hall, and many more within walking distance.

Showtime Event Group will work with you to design the perfect footprint based on your unique venue requirements, all along the riverside. Tapping into the Melbourne laneway culture and excellence in food and beverage service, this entire precinct can be activated to deliver on your bespoke event requirements.

Showtime Event Group is Melbourne’s leading unique venue specialist with a diverse portfolio of venues, including State Library Victoria, Rippon Lea Estate, Hellenic Museum and Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium. Stay tuned as we unveil yet another exciting addition to our line up soon!

(03) 9682 1777 or events@seg.melbourne Chat with us about how we can elevate your next corporate function!


“Elevate Experiences & Events is simply outstanding.”

Mid-sized venue in Australia (51-150 pax)

Flex by ISPT Collider

Sydney, NSW | @TheCollider_

Café del Mar


Sydney, NSW | @cafedelmarsydney

Great Ocean Road Resort

Anglesea, Victoria | @greatoceanroadresort


Adelaide, South Australia | @weare_ILA

Athol Hall

Sydney, NSW | @atholhallvenue

Best large venue in Australia (151-500 pax)

The Venue Alexandria

Sydney, NSW | @thevenuealexandria

NSW Parliament House

Sydney, NSW | @ nswparliament

Rydges Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria | @rydgesmelbourne

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Sydney, NSW | @mca_australia

The Langham, Gold Coast

Surfers Paradise, Queensland | @langhamgoldcoast

Best mega venue in Australia (501-5000+ pax)

Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Gold Coast

Main Beach, Queensland | @Marriottbonvoy

Adelaide Oval

Adelaide, South Australia | @adelaideoval

Marvel Stadium

Melbourne, Victoria | marvelstadium.au

The Tivoli Brisbane

Brisbane, Queensland | @thetivolibrisbane

Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre

Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland | @gccec

South Wharf Promenade, Melbourne

(Showtime Precinct Events)

Melbourne, Victoria | @showtimeeventgroup

Flex by ISPT Collider The Langham, Gold Coast
32 Spice Winter 2024 Hot 100
Marvel Stadium

CHOOSE Kindness




The Collider

Flex by ISPT is a network of unique, inspiring and flexible meeting, event and conferencing venues all over Australia.

With convenient locations, one booking system and a connected, supportive team, getting together to connect and collaborate has never been easier.

Flex by ISPT flexbyispt.com.au company/flex-by-ispt/


500 Bourke Street

Meetings | Events | Conferences

Spring Place

Meetings | Events | Conferences


4 National Circuit

Meetings | Conferences

Pathway Place



George Place

Meetings | Events | Conferences

477 on Pitt Street

Meetings | Conferences

The Collider Events | Conferences

Brisbane Central Plaza

Meetings | Events | Conferences

Spice Magazine Hot 100 2024 Finalist Venue for a Product Launch BEST Mid-Sized Venue BEST


36 Spice Winter 2024 Food and beverage
Watermelon salad at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

The landscape has changed for large-event conference venues when it comes to food and beverage. Sustainability, innovation, curated menus and a local focus are the new modus operandi, shaping the way catering is delivered to suit modern expectations from planners and their delegates, writes Matthew Sainsbury.

spicenews.com.au 37 Food and beverage

Food and beverage offerings at large conference facilities are rapidly shifting as venues meet the broadening interests of organisers and attendees. Evolving trends are underscored by a move towards curated menus that cater to individual dietary and lifestyle preferences despite the large number of delegates that need to be served at events in these venues. To achieve this, venues are looking local.

“Delegates and event attendees expect locally sourced and health-oriented foods to be served at events,” says ICC Sydney’s director of culinary services, Lynell Peck.

Fortunately, Australia benefits from being home to exceptional agricultural produce. For example, NSW has the “freshest seafood, superfoods, Indigenous ingredients, sustainably sourced foods and produce sourced from smaller, local suppliers that also provide health benefits,” according to Peck.

But it’s also about the premium finish, Peck adds, highlighting the use of Pepe Saya butter and Bondi Yoghurt – both premium boutique brands known for their rich taste and health benefits – because they “turn heads”.

“Organisers and their guests often remark on the rich taste and buttery aroma,” she adds.

Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre’s executive chef, Garry Kindred, echoes this sentiment, pointing to the Queensland venue’s popular wellness and poke bowls as examples of these trends.

“They tick all the boxes for a meal choice that delivers flavour and satisfaction on the go,” he says. The bowls combine vibrant colours thanks to the freshest seasonal salads and vegetables in them, which helps make them a centrepiece for events held at the venue.

Additionally, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) offers extensive options for gala dinners, of which the classic buffet approach continues to be a crowd favourite. However, for this option, it’s all about selection and variety. Kindred says one of the appeals of GCCEC is it’s a venue that can be used for repeated events, with delegates having a consistent, but varied experience each time.

“We pride ourselves on serving restaurantquality meals,” he says. “We also have clients

Seasonal & Local produce Journey to zero waste 100% carbon neutral BCorp certified Drops us a line 02 9820 4011 radishevents com au events@radishevents com au Ethical
A fine buffet selection and other quality offerings at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
Event Catering
Food and beverage

Food and beverage

returning year after year, and the team works closely with each one to ensure an inspired and well-thought-out meal is offered every time.”

Beyond innovation with ingredients

Another key trend with large-venue catering is embracing technology and innovation to enhance what can be delivered. Large-venue events, with their complex logistics and high guest expectations, are the types of environment where the efficiencies and productivity promised by innovation can add significant value.

Adelaide Convention Centre prides itself on having one of the most technologically advanced kitchens in Australia.

“There has been a lot of research during the past eight years as part of our kitchen upgrade,” says Adelaide Convention Centre executive chef Gavin Robertson, highlighting the venue’s proactive approach to staying at the forefront of catering technology. This innovation means the venue is often used as a “test kitchen environment” for suppliers, which in turn gives Robertson and his team the opportunity to provide feedback and ensure any equipment they purchase directly supports the running of the environment.

“Technology is essential to deliver creative, restaurant-quality food for events up to 3000 guests,” he says, underscoring the critical role of innovation in managing large-scale productions without compromising quality.

spicenews.com.au 39

Food and beverage

Overcoming key challenges in largeevent catering

Catering teams at large-event venues face their fair share of challenges. Here is how they are overcoming them.

Managing special diets

“The ever-growing number of lifestyle and medical diets are certainly posing additional challenges,” says Adelaide Convention Centre’s executive chef, Gavin Robertson, noting that 10-15 per cent of meals served at any event have special requirements. To address this, his team has established a dedicated special diets department, headed by a specialist section sous chef, ensuring guests with unique dietary needs receive the attention they deserve.

Supply challenges

Another ongoing challenge Robertson highlights is ensuring regular access to the native Australian ingredients that sourcing locally requires. Adelaide Convention Centre has formed partnerships with local First Nations producers, securing year-round supply of essentials such as Warrigal greens and karkalla. “With the ever-increasing cost of food, smart purchasing and our highly skilled procurement team come into play,” he says.

Staffing challenges

HR is another challenge for large-venue operators.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre has had the challenge of finding and retaining skilled staff post-COVID-19 pandemic. To address this, the venue has cultivated a flexible work environment and invested heavily in training and personal development.

“Earlier this year, 11 of our team members embarked on a culinary journey, participating in a series of masterclasses,” says MCEC executive sous chef Karl Edmonds. Because MCEC’s team feels engaged and gains valuable support in their careers, they’re inspired to put 100 per cent into their work and deliver a standout experience for delegates, he says.

Weather and economic fluctuations

Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre executive chef Garry Kindred says increasing unpredictability of weather is having an impact on catering. “When floods, droughts and other major weather incidents affect our growers and suppliers, we have to adapt menus to suit what we can purchase in bulk,” he says. Economic fluctuations also play a role, influencing the cost of goods and delegate numbers, necessitating flexibility and a focus on minimising food waste.

Grazing tables are a popular choice for Radish Events
40 Spice Winter 2024
Adelaide Convention Centre executive chef Gavin Robertson (left)

At Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), a sophisticated menu management system is the cornerstone of its kitchen’s efficiency.

“Our chefs no longer need to spend countless hours behind a computer sorting and planning the production list and orders,”

Inspired by the changes of the Gulumoerrgin (Larrakia) seasons, Darwin Convention Centre offers a unique cultural dining experience that takes delegates on a multi-sensory culinary journey.

Available to book as a seven-course degustation for smaller groups, or a three-course banquet for large events.



Food and beverage

Prioritising sustainability

In New Zealand, an overarching desire to demonstrate sustainability in catering drives many of the decisions that are made about menus.

“Sustainability plays a massive role in what we do at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre,” says the venue’s executive chef, Desmond Davies.

“To ensure our culinary offerings are in line with our company’s principles, we source 80 per cent of produce locally from the Canterbury region and South Island. This helps to reduce our miles and support local businesses. We like knowing where our produce is coming from – particularly fruit and vegetables – and it helps drive our decisions around menu offerings.”

The push towards sustainability also underpins increasing interest venues have in providing vegan meals that delegates – vegan or otherwise – will love. With meat production a major source of carbon emissions, special effort goes into the design of those menu items at Te Pae Christchurch.

“This year, there has been a big change for our new menu with specific catering options for plantbased diets,” says Davies. “This change will help provide delicious options for those dietaries in a menu section that caters to them specifically. There will also be trained staff on these stations to help people know what is OK for them to eat and not.”

Long gone are the days when delegates could predict what would be on the menu when they attend a large-venue event. Now they can expect the unexpected, where seasonal, fresh local produce and ingredients come together with a deep understanding of individual health and sustainability for the planet. n

Comparing largevenue and smallevent catering

When it comes to catering for smaller-scale events, fundamental trends are the same as with large venues. Delegates crave variety and creativity, and making the experience distinctive and interactive is a compelling way to go.

“Our clients are keen to create more interactive and engaging experiences for their guests,” says Henri Turra, managing director at boutique specialist Radish Events.

“Food stations such as pasta bars, taco stations and paella set-ups allow chefs to showcase their skills while providing guests with a hands-on culinary experience.”

While interactive food stations are a hit, traditional options such as canapes and grazing tables also remain popular. Clients often opt for themed menus or bespoke dishes tailored to their event, ensuring the menu meets unique dietary requirements of everyone in attendance.

“We’ve observed a significant increase in inclusive menus during the past few years,” says Turra.

“Having a diverse menu that caters to various dietary preferences is a must.”

Smaller events also face challenges regarding budgetary restrictions, pushing boutique catering services to adapt by providing value-driven solutions.

“Flexibility in packages, including self-serve options and drop-off buffets, ensures cost-effectiveness without compromising quality,” says Turra.

Also, demand for sustainability is no lower with smallscale events. Boutique caterers need to go through the same sourcing process as large-events chefs do.

“Sourcing ingredients from sustainable and ethical suppliers is at the very heart of what we do,” says Turra.

“We work closely with suppliers to ensure we meet our procurement guidelines and offer state-local inspired menus to meet client preferences.”

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre executive chef Desmond Davies
42 Spice Winter 2024
Beverage excellence at ICC Sydney
Food and beverage

Culturally immersive dining

Darwin Convention Centre honours the Larrakia people with its spectacular Seven Seasons dining experience.
D“The Seven Seasons menu features fresh local produce and native ingredients, including wattle seed, Kakadu plums, mud crab and renowned Northern Territory barramundi.”

arwin Convention Centre invites guests to be part of a journey more than 65,000 years in the making with its signature Seven Seasons dining experience.

To the Larrakia people – traditional custodians of the Darwin region, in Northern Territory – the year is divided into seven seasons rather than four. There is no beginning and no end, but rather a constant change that can be felt. Each season has distinctive patterns of weather changes, and plant and animal activity, with its own special purpose.

A Seven Seasons dinner allows guests to experience the dramatic changes of the Gulumoerrgin (Larrakia) seasons and the impact these changes have on the sights, sounds, landscape and natural habitat.

To achieve this, Darwin Convention Centre has worked closely with the Larrakia people to take the culinary experience beyond food, offering an audiovisual package that features stunning artwork by local Larrakia artists and moving narration by a Larrakia Elder to explain the seasons and their significance.

The AV package is designed to accompany

each course, changing with the seasons as dishes are served to provide delegates with a multisensory immersion of Aboriginal culture.

The Seven Seasons menu features fresh local produce and native ingredients, including wattle seed, Kakadu plums, mud crab and renowned Northern Territory barramundi. It can be incorporated into an event program to suit different budgets and event requirements. Event planners can choose between booking just the menu or adding production elements to give their delegates a more enriching cultural experience.

Darwin Convention Centre can assist event planners to incorporate a Welcome to Country or cultural performance into the dining program by connecting planners with local Indigenous organisations such as The Youth Mill and NT Dance Company.

“Our Seven Seasons menu is about more than just the ingredients or presentation of food – it’s about offering delegates a meaningful experience that provides a deeper understanding of the local land and culture,” says Darwin Convention Centre’s executive chef, Toby Beaton. n

Australia and Tourism NT 44 Spice Winter 2024 Food and beverage
Photo: Tourism

Sustainable dining in Fiji

Marriott Bonvoy’s four resorts in Fiji are elevating MICE events through sustainable dining experiences in paradise.

Escape to the pristine shores of Fiji and immerse in unforgettable MICE events at Marriott International’s four exquisite resorts: Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort, and Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island Fiji.

Beyond offering world-class facilities and breathtaking scenery, the resorts are committed to sustainability, creating dining experiences that blend culinary excellence with ecological guardianship.

At Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, events can be elevated with sustainable initiatives that showcase the best of Fijian hospitality and cuisine. Indulge in a farm-to-fork experience, where fresh produce from the onsite Chef’s Garden takes centerstage in every dish. Also on offer are marine ecosystem teambuilding activities – guided by the resort’s sustainability manager and marine conservation expert – to support the conservation of Fiji’s marine ecosystem while fostering team camaraderie.

Sheraton Denarau Villas invites guests to experience Wet Edge Restaurant, where sustainability meets spectacular views. Delight in Fijian fusion cuisine crafted from locally sourced ingredients, while enjoying the gentle sea breeze and panoramic ocean vistas. Embark on a guided tour of the Sheraton Denarau Farm to learn

about sustainable farming practices and support efforts to plant native trees in collaboration with Mamanuca Environment Society.

At Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort, sustainability is at the heart of its culinary offering. Visitors can enjoy an ocean-totable dining experience – featuring fresh seafood sourced from local fishers – and savour the vibrant flavours of Fiji through an exquisite vegetarian menu. Guests are also invited to join beach clean-ups and support Marriott International’s commitment to environmental stewardship, while enjoying unparalleled views of Nadi Bay.

Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island Fiji, is where traditional Fijian culture meets contemporary indulgence. Guests can feel the vibrant spirit of the Meke dance, followed by a Kava tasting ceremony and delightful Fijian Lovo feast cooked in an earth oven. Experience the blend of Indian-fusion flavours at Curcuma Restaurant, where al fresco dining is complemented by stunning views of Mamanuca Islands.

Incorporating sustainable practices into MICE events enhances guests’ experience and contributes to preserving Fiji’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. These events go beyond the ordinary, where sustainability, culinary excellence and cultural immersion converge to create unforgettable memories. n

Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island Fiji
46 Spice Winter 2024 Food and beverage
Fish Bar at Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay

Set the Stage for Success


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It’s a party in the clouds, offering the Best View from the Sydney’s Highest bar in the Iconic Sydney Tower


ESQ BAR + DINING, QVB Exudes elegance and mystery, ideal for impressive cocktail evenings.
& Bar in the iconic QVB. Reign is the ultimate destination for queens and kings to play.
over 2,500 events per year, trust Trippas White Group to make
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Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains

The multi award-winning Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains is located 90 minutes’ drive west of Sydney. It stands as a beacon of excellence in conference and event hosting. From team recognition gatherings, product launches and small business meetings to large residential conferences and buy-outs, it epitomises versatility.

The resort’s 23 meeting spaces offer opportunities for customisation and exclusivity, crafting unforgettable experiences, from team building to onsite activities and golf.

Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains offers superb food and beverages, including at awardwinning Two Doctors Whiskey Tavern, with its cosy interior spaces, leather chesterfields and bookshelves housing vintage books and curios.

The Chef Hat-awarded No.1 Sublime Pt hosts private dinners and events overlooking Jamison Valley. It delivers a gastronomic experience that complements the resort’s warm hospitality.


Winter warmers


comfort cuisine to snug surrounds, escape the chill this winter at these cosy, cool-climate venues.


Nestled in the heart of the Sydney CBD sits ESQ, a venue shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Its central location beckons guests into a world of intimate warmth, which is perfect for winter gatherings.

ESQ, located in the Queen Victoria Building, embodies speakeasy elegance, offering a backdrop for cocktail events and intimate chef’s table dinners. Elevate your next event by partnering with Trippas White Group’s head sommelier, Louella Mathews, to curate an unforgettable experience.

An event at ESQ is the crafting of a journey through sophistication and style. esqatqvb.com.au

48 Spice Winter 2024 Winter venues

Dean & Nancy on 22

Developed by the creative minds behind internationally acclaimed cocktail bar Maybe Sammy, and perched under the golden crown of A by Adina Sydney, Dean & Nancy on 22 balances decadence and drama with precision and playful service.

Step off the brass curved staircase from A by Adina’s Sky Lobby and order a cocktail, sample bold flavours, watch the sun set and see the city come alive.

“At the end of the day, an impressive cocktail list might get people through the door, but it’s the experience they have that keeps them coming back,” says A by Adina general manager Jay Hore. “Our guests’ happiness is top priority and our venue team has a lot of fun making that happen.”

Dean & Nancy’s “Above the Clouds” cocktail menu invites guests on a celestial journey with space-themed cocktails, including their first edible cocktail, “The Rocketman”. deanandnancyon22.com.au



Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Working Kind Collective

Nestled within the walls of Working Kind Collective, in Stanmore, in Sydney’s Inner West, lies a culinary haven waiting to be explored. The venue is a beacon of community, creativity and social impact that boasts a delectable food and beverage offering.

Featured is a selection of dishes lovingly prepared by some of Sydney’s best social enterprises. HW Catering provides hospitality work experience and training for refugees and asylum seekers. Its menu is a celebration of cultural diversity, offering global cuisine that reflects the heritage and culinary traditions of those who craft them.

Other offerings include bespoke menus crafted by asylum seekers and refugees from Parliament on King social catering; and Jamaican Delight, which serves authentic Jamaican cuisine that tells a story of resilience, passion and community that transcends borders.

Working Kind Collective is all about making a difference. With a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, and a focus on reducing under-representation, the venue partners with local social enterprises to offer catering options that are delicious and environmentally conscious. It is a place where great food meets great purpose, leaving guests nourished in body and soul. workingkindcollective.com

Located at one of the world’s most spectacular sites, on the edge of Sydney Harbour, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s Foundation Hall is an impressive ballroom with seven-metre-high ceilings and a large terrace with views of Sydney Opera House.

Once the original reception hall of the former Maritime Services Board, this 450-square-feet space has been beautifully refurbished using traditional materials, including scagliola pillars and terrazzo flooring.

In 2024, clients and guests will see continued improvements in this venue, including upgrades through MCA Australia’s major partner, AV1. Foundation Hall can accommodate 300 people seated or 750 standing.

MCA Australia is dedicated to exhibiting, collecting and interpreting the work of contemporary Australian artists. By hosting an event at this venue, you are supporting them. mca.com.au

50 Spice Winter 2024 Winter venues
Your Vision, Our Commitment! Broaden your horizons in Fiji’s biggest playground and earn valuable points. Plan an extraordinary event in a place with purpose, innovative tools, sensations to savor and services thoughtfully personalized, where connections flourish. Elevate your sustainable meetings seamlessly, gather responsibly and step beyond the horizon for experiences made memorable. Connect with us: Email FijiSales@marriott.com or call +679 998 1902


In a city known for its ubiquitous wine and cocktail bars, Fleet stands tall – not only as the highest rooftop bar on Melbourne’s Flinders Street, but as a venue leading the modern-day rum renaissance.

Located on level 22 of Vibe Hotel Melbourne, Fleet opened in April 2024 and boasts one of the city’s most picturesque views. Designed by Paul Kelly Design – also responsible for Black Star and Crown Casino – the hotel’s former penthouse apartments have been transformed into a chic, 90-person rooftop bar reminiscent of an intimate private suite.

Fleet’s stylish, travertine bar is generously stocked with more than 70 rums from around the world, including local distillers. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 3pm until late, and is available for buy-outs, excluding Friday and Saturday nights. fleetrooftopbar.com.au

The Victoria Rutherglen

The jewel of historic Main Street, in Rutherglen, The Victoria is located 10 minutes off the Hume Highway on the Victoria-NSW border. The regional venue is a three-hour drive from Melbourne and an ideal meeting point for guests from Sydney, Canberra and Victoria.

Under the guidance of head chef Brendan Anderson, The Victoria’s enticing winter menu celebrates local produce, cooked over open flame with skill and care, and delivers nostalgic pub classics or something elevated.

Enjoy wine pairings from a selection that pays tribute to the region’s exceptional winemakers, or work through the cocktail menu where locally distilled spirits provide an artisanal twist on the classics.

The open-air, dog-friendly beer garden is ideal for enjoying the all-day snacks menu, while the roaring wood fire offers perfect ambience in cooler weather.

For people seeking an overnight stay, The Victoria’s luxury boutique suites provide a welcoming winter escape, designed for the leisure and business traveller. victoriahotelrutherglen.com.au

VIC 52 Spice Winter 2024 Winter venues


Belvedere Restaurant and Bar

Belvedere Restaurant and Bar is a destination eatery within a hotel that effortlessly shifts from breakfast to all-day dining. It’s where a passionate team waxes lyrical about the destination in the Tasmanian capital.

Located on the ground floor of Vibe Hotel Hobart, Belvedere feeds a growing global appetite for authentic local encounters intertwined with paddock-to-plate dining. Through thoughtful interactions, the team creates experiences that talk to the providence of the site – through art and design – and the produce it serves.

The site’s colonial back story serves as an entree to its incarnation as the Belvedere – a beloved Art Deco dance hall that shaped the city’s social fabric from the late 1930s. This story is memorialised in mesmerising chain art featuring a 7.5 metre x 3 metre Kriskadecor panel.

At Belvedere, produce is revered and crafted with contemporary flair, and best washed down with a bottle of Josef Chromy’s finest.

vibehotels.com/book-accommodation/hobart/ hotel-hobart/belvedere

today venues@mca.com.au +61 2 9245 2480 mca.com.au/venues Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

M C A One stunning location Eight versatile venues Enquire
Winter venues
Photograph: Elise Hassey

Chifley’s Bar and Grill

While Hotel Kurrajong Canberra tributes the nation’s history, Chifley’s Bar & Grill pays homage to the ACT region’s wineries and boutique food producers with a seasonal, modern menu. Chef Saju Rajappan and his team cater to discerning travellers, diplomats and businesspeople with classic, but inventive, dishes that are delicious and look gorgeous.

Named after the 16th Prime Minister of Australia, Ben Chifley – who loved dining at the hotel and frequently enjoyed a tipple in the bar – Chifley’s takes guests on a sensory journey of whiskies from around the world. A wide range of local and international wines, cocktails, craft beers and ciders are also available.

The restaurant retains a sense of history with its warm, nostalgic interior, comfortable leather chairs, elegant decor and glassed-in terrace overlooking the hotel’s gardens.


Mount Lofty House

Nestled on Mount Lofty’s eastern slopes, in the Adelaide Hills, winter transforms the estate into a misty wonderland with crackling fires and adventure amid nature’s embrace. Enjoy a twonight stay at Mount Lofty House with its Winter Warmer package, featuring daily breakfast and dining at three-Chef Hat Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, and indulgent spa treatments.

The menu at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant is created using locally sourced seasonal ingredients crafted into dishes that redefine the boundaries of flavour. Each plate reflects a harmonious balance of creativity and tradition, leaving diners with a sense of familiarity and awe.

Guests can also experience Après Lofty at the Ski Chalet, which offers mulled wine and hot toddys, plus fire pits under the stars. Throughout July, savour winter roasts at Piccadilly Panorama Restaurant on weekends, and unwind with new saunas, a hot tub, and an ice bath at the Gatekeeper’s Day Spa, while rejuvenating in the serenity of Adelaide Hills. mtloftyhouse.com.au

54 Spice Winter 2024 Winter
Elevate your vision Together we can transform your event into an unforgettable experience. Adelaide, Australia’s Convention City +61 8 8210 6677 | SALES@AVMC.COM.AU SCAN THE QR CODE TO EXPLORE OUR VENUE OR VISIT ADELAIDECC.COM.AU

Fostering future talent

ABEA’s Emerging Leaders program is unearthing events industry stars of tomorrow, such as Sharna Greig, who will help lead the sector for decades to come, writes Gavin Dennett.

“Once you are in the industry, it is so well connected and opportunities are endless.”

The Australian Business Events Association (ABEA) is the leading industry body that represents people and organisations in the nation’s business events sector. It was formed in July 2023 through the unification of three organisations – Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB), Australian Convention Centres Group (ACCG) and Exhibition & Events Association of Australasia (EEAA) – and its aim is to promote the business events industry and drive member prosperity through industry development, networking, research and advocacy.

As part of ABEA’s charter to promote the industry, it founded the Leading Well for Emerging Leaders program to help nurture the next generation of business events talent.

The program had its beginnings before the merger, but has been honed under the new banner, attracting the brightest sparks from industry who are keen to establish their credentials as future top brass.

Following a competitive application process, the 2023 winner was Business Events Adelaide team coordinator Sharna Greig. A relative newcomer to the business events industry, she joined the Business Events Adelaide team in 2022 and has enjoyed sinking her teeth into a sector that wasn’t at the forefront of her learnings while at university.

“I studied tourism and events management at UniSA,” she says. “I wanted to get into events but wasn’t sure what type. I hadn’t considered business events as a pathway because they didn’t really teach us about it at uni.

“I studied a bachelor of business in tourism and events management so there was a lot of accounting and business admin-related topics – including sustainability and how that affects events – but in terms of business events, it wasn’t on the radar.”

When a job opportunity came up at Business Events Adelaide, Greig experienced a workplace awakening, discovering

56 Spice Winter 2024 ABEA Emerging Leaders
The beautiful city of Adelaide, Sharna Greig's hometown

a multi-layered industry overlooked in the educational curriculum.

“I was blown away when I started working at Business Events Adelaide,” she says. “I was thinking, ‘You guys do so much, such as bidding for events and bringing them here.’ There are so many factors that go into it, such as

convincing the government they are worth funding. At uni, they never mentioned there are convention bureaus around the world, which is such an important thing to not cover.

“There is a lack of awareness outside of the industry because it was barely touched on at university. There can also be a lack of information and openness from industry leaders to say, ‘This is what I do for a living, and this is how I got into it.’ I feel the industry can be a bit conservative about how people got to where they are.”

This is where ABEA’s Emerging Leaders program is providing a valuable pathway for young people in the events industry to be heard and to help build an army of next-generation talent that will take the sector forward.

While the program is helping shine a spotlight on leaders of tomorrow, the industry at large still has some work to do – in partnership with tertiary institutions – to spruik business events as a rewarding career that will attract talent, offer mentorships and prove it is more than a highly casualised industry that offers carer stability and growth.

“Once you are in the industry, it is so well connected and opportunities are endless, but there is room to do more to show that planning, attending and coordinating events is great work. The fun should be celebrated.” n


Adelaide Convention Centre, a hub for business events in the South Australian capital
ABEA Emerging Leaders

Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Connect with city luxe in Cairns

Tourism Tropical North Queensland extends an invitation to Cairns to experience iconic natural wonders and local cuisine that will leave delegates in awe.

Amelting pot of urban luxury, bespoke experiences, natural beauty and warm Australian hospitality, the revitalised Queensland coastal city of Cairns is the tropical north gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage Wet Tropics Rainforest.

Upon touching down in Cairns, it is easy to see why it’s a modern, nature-based, luxe incentive hotspot in Australia. Visitors soon discover how this regional destination inspires, rewards, surprises and delights, and why the city was chosen to host Tourism Australia’s signature incentive showcase, Australia Next, in September 2024.

Cairns offers Australia’s largest concentration of eco-certified experiences, two Indigenous cultures and two World Heritage icons. The city has emerged as a premier regional incentive destination with itineraries designed to sustain the environment and soul.

With access to Atherton Tablelands – one of Australia’s most diverse food bowls – taste buds will savour the flavour of paddock-to-plate with premium local produce sourced within a three-hour drive from Cairns.

Just 10 minutes from the airport, delegates arriving in Cairns can shrug off jackets, breath fresh, warm air and sip on locally inspired cocktails in luxurious five-star surroundings. After taking in the view of the Coral Sea during a tropical welcome lunch overlooking the lush, sprawling oceanfront, they will be inspired to dive deep into Indigenous culture with a smoking ceremony on the beach. Upon inhaling the fragrant smoke, delegates will feel calm and connected to the land

before taking a historical journey to discover native foods and bush medicines, while learning about ancient Aboriginal traditions, customs and artefacts.

Continuing the theme of local and fresh, next on the itinerary is taking over a fleet of Queensland fishing trawlers for a private seafood extravaganza on the water overlooking the lights of the city, before moving on to an exclusive speakeasy cocktail bar to sample the best of Cairns and Great Barrier Reef’s unique, locally distilled, award-winning gins from Wolf Lane and Mt Uncle, which feature native botanicals Davidson plum, juniper berry and lemon myrtle.

When the sparkling aquamarine waters of the Great Barrier Reef beckon, delegates will be spoiled for choice – from relaxed, slow-paced sailing, to an intimate catamaran adventure with a private chef on a white sand coral cay.

Experience an immersive First Nationslead adventure to the colourful outer reef, or add an educational, citizen science or conservation element by partnering with GBR Biology, Turtle Rehabilitation Centre or the world-first Forever Reef.

The luxury of fresh ingredients with low food miles gives Cairns an edge. Dine in a historical World War II oil tank; be surrounded by magnificent gardens under swaying palms illuminated by lanterns; go barefoot in the sand at the edge of the Coral Sea; or visit a working farm enveloped by towering sugar cane against a backdrop of rugged mountains.

These are experiences only found in Cairns, the home of nature-based luxury. n

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Join PCOA and reap the savings from our “Get in Quick and Early Bird” registration rates. pco.asn.au/membership For EventManagement Professionals The As s o ciation PCOA24 1 - 3 DECEMBER 2024 THE STAR BRISBANE $699 GET IN QUICK MEMBER REGISTRATION OFFER ONLY AVAILABLE TO PCO'S AND IN-HOUSE EVENT MANAGERS JOIN AND SAVE

An unmissable event

Events Uncovered presented by Spice returns for its ninth year on 23 July, 2024, with a Showcase and Knowledge Sessions featuring the events industry’s innovators and thought leaders.

One of the most essential dates on the events industry calendar is approaching fast, with Events Uncovered presented by Spice coming to Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, in Sydney, on Tuesday, 23 July, 2024.

The ninth edition of the single-day experience is must-attend for professionals working in the Australian events sector who want the latest information on fresh and innovative trends, suppliers and venue offerings.

On show at MCA Australia – located at Circular Quay on stunning Sydney Harbour – will be the nation’s leading venues and suppliers, as well as keynote speakers and event professionals sharing their insight and experience on the events industry.

Downstairs, the free Showcase will feature exhibitors demonstrating their products and services that can help attendees take their events to the next level.

Throughout the day, upstairs in MCA Australia’s Harbourside Room and Quayside Room, the industry’s thought leaders will impart their wisdom and knowledge in the Spice Knowledge Sessions.

These ticketed sessions will feature information and case studies across a range of topics most relevant for today’s

event planners. Confirmed sessions will be themes on combatting event planner burnout; innovation trends and AI; industry veterans discussing the future of the events sector and intergenerational learnings; sustainability in the events industry; crisis management; delivering sensory journeys that go beyond visuals; event marketing and promotional cut-through; hosting events on a budget and getting maximum bang for your buck; and sustainability in events.

Spice Knowledge Sessions speakers appearing on the day include Janene Wardrop, event specialist, International College of Management, Sydney; Alana Hay, director, Milestone Creative; Chris Schlueter, director of business and innovation, Sprintr; Paul Hutton, area vice president, APAC, Hilton; Shelly McElroy, managing director, Dream Culture; Luke Flemming, director of human resources, ICC Sydney; Martine Beaumont, founder and CEO, Select Wellness Australia; Manisha Amin, CEO, Centre for Inclusive Design; and Anna Sheppard, founder and CEO, Bambuddha Group, who is also the event’s MC.

Also running with the Spice Knowledge Sessions will be an educational hub presented by audio-visual company AV1, as well as fun and interactive musical engagement from Song Division.

60 Spice Winter 2024 Events Uncovered

Bringing audio-visual excellence to MCA Australia

As part of AV1’s partnership with Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the progressive audio-visual company has invested in highly considered state-of-the-art equipment for the venue’s level-six event spaces: Harbourside Room and Quayside Room.

Recent upgrades to the home of Events Uncovered presented by Spice include:

• The installation of Panasonic 20k lumen laser projectors (the world’s smallest and lightest 20k lumen 3-chip projectors).

• Replacement of 16:10 screens with 16:9 screens.

• Ceiling-mounted L'Acoustic X8 speakers, which provide even coverage and crystal-clear audio. The ceiling-mounted design clears floor space and gives a premium feel.

• New LED strip lighting, which allows organisers to customise the room’s look and feel with colour washes and movement.

This investment in technology is a commitment of excellence from AV1 and MCA Australia to provide market-leading solutions and phenomenal value for organisers in one of Sydney’s most iconic locations.

Through the installation process, AV1’s managing director, Nigel Mintern, and MCA Australia’s head of venues and events, Kirsty Esson, collaborated to create venue spaces that elevate the experience for clients and guests, while providing in-house flexibility for conferences, weddings, cocktail events and product launches.

Laser versus bulb projectors

Laser projectors use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to project images rather than their predecessors, bulb projectors, which use light bulbs.

LEDs are smaller, brighter, provide a sharper image, require no heating up, and use less electricity compared to bulbs. LED lights run at a low temperature, meaning a laser projector requires less cooling inside the unit.

Laser projectors provide higher contrast compared to lamp projectors. The colour black, displayed by a laser projector, gives a much darker look. This is because lamp projectors illuminate a canvas entirely, whereas LED projectors do not illuminate black areas. With bulb projectors, black areas are always illuminated, giving a slightly washed-out effect.

The installed Panasonic Laser projectors carry a long shelf life of 20,000+ hours, meaning they can run for eight hours a day for 12.5 years without maintenance.

Laser projectors were chosen for the MCA Australia spaces due to their superior performance, energy efficiency and long life, reducing overall environmental impact of the equipment while giving a superior result.

The new equipment upgrades allow for:

• Ultra-HD energy efficient projection on two drop-down screens in each space.

• Ultra-HD projection directly onto the venue’s walls.

• Block, dual and multicoloured wall lighting washes that create a visibly stunning effect.

• Crystal clear audio delivery for all types of events installed and readily available.

spicenews.com.au 61 Events Uncovered
AV1's new audio-visual display at MCA Australia

After a full day of learning and engagement, attendees can let their hair down with drinks, canapes and entertainment after dark during a fun-filled night of networking, music and dancing. This year promises to be the biggest in the event’s history so don’t miss Events Uncovered presented by Spice

To purchase tickets and for more information – including many more exciting speakers to be announced soon – visit eventsuncovered.com.au. n

Events Uncovered’s valued sponsors

D PLUS D Events

Known for its commitment to intuitive service and innovative style tailored to clients’ needs, D PLUS D Events brings a unique touch to every project. Rejecting cookie-cutter approaches, it specialises in crafting bespoke experiences that authentically reflect clients’ brand values, ensuring genuine connection and impact.

D PLUS D Events redefines event styling and designer furniture hire, and at Events Uncovered presented by Spice, the company will showcase its latest ranges – Apollo, Luna and Atlas – which are modular, versatile and come in a range of shapes and colours.


Sprintr is a curator of innovative event tech from across the globe. Its commitment is to facilitate and amplify the delivery of deeply impactful and meaningful experiences. Sustainability is an important part of the company, and it works hard to keep improving its practices.

For many years, Sprintr has consistently and reliably provided Events Uncovered presented by Spice with cutting-edge event tech for onsite registration services, including kiosks, lanyards and an app to enhance the delegate experience.

Solution Entertainment

Solution Entertainment is a team of highly skilled and passionate people with backgrounds in performing arts, music, fashion and events. Since 2007, it has been connecting brands with epic entertainment that leaves a lasting impact.

The company’s purpose is to take pressure off its clients by connecting them to the best curated talent in Australia. It’s about focusing on details, ensuring never losing sight of objectives, but having fun along the way.

Inspire Speakers

Inspire Speakers is on a mission to change Australia’s conference and events industry. Established in 2014, the company is a small and passionate team providing clients with world-class speakers and outstanding service.

The team presents an imaginative approach to boost events by selecting the right speaker or entertainer, which it believes is a science and art. The company thinks outside the box to deliver the perfect speaker options.

Oneill Photographics

Founded by Shane O’Neill and co-owned by Natalie Page, the experienced duo has built a team of more than 38 professional visual creatives around Australia and New Zealand, who all share a passion to create content that translates a moment in time into a connection between audiences and brands.

62 Spice Winter 2024 Events Uncovered


Connect with nature and each other in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef .




The NSW Southern Highlands is a cool-climate destination that will warm the heart of every visitor this winter, writes Gavin Dennett

64 Spice Winter 2024 Destination
Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands

Located 110km from the Sydney CBD, the NSW Southern Highlands is a hidden gem for travellers seeking a regional getaway that combines modern attractions with tranquil surrounds.

Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral

The centrepiece of the Southern Highlands for business travellers is Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral, a premium conference and events destination. Taken over by Seibu Prince Hotels & Resorts in 2023, and given a major spruce, the 77-room hotel is a contemporary and spacious getaway that features the scenic 18-hole Gibraltar Golf Course.

Relaxed, yet sophisticated, Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral boasts eight versatile meeting spaces, including a double-height gallery and grand ballroom that offers a panoramic view of Mount Gibraltar and is capable of hosting up to 280 guests. The hotel’s purpose-built meeting rooms feature state-of-the-art audiovisual facilities and are bathed in natural light on nature’s doorstep.

Accommodation ranges from deluxe rooms to three-bedroom suites, and other facilities include bars and dining – one with an open fireplace – a gym, and an indoor swimming pool and spa.

Centennial Vineyards Bowral

Situated adjacent to Park Proxi Bowral Gibraltar, Centennial Vineyards is a sprawling 80-acre estate and cellar door specialising in cool-climate wines including Chardonnay, Riesling, pinot gris, albarino, pinot meunier, pinot noir and tempranillo.

“Relaxed, yet sophisticated, Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral boasts eight versatile meeting spaces, including a double-height gallery and grand ballroom that offers a panoramic view of Mount Gibraltar.”

Geographically, the historic region sits on the Great Dividing Range, 500-900 metres above sea level. It comprises the commercial towns of Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Berrima, Bundanoon and Robertson, as well as small residential villages dotted around them.

With a cool temperate climate and it being just an hour-and-a-half drive from Sydney – significantly less from the city’s southern suburbs – the area is an ideal winter getaway. For city slickers seeking clean, country air, the Southern Highlands offers natural beauty such as open countryside, national parks and waterfalls, as well as boutique shopping and hearty cuisine.

Easily accessible by road and rail – Bowral train station is serviced directly from Sydney and Canberra – visitors delight in the quiet pace and friendly locals.

As a business events destination, the region is perfect for offering the comforts of luxury accommodation, cool-climate wines, fantastic food and incentive leisure activities, where delegates can escape the everyday, bond with colleagues and learn.

The onsite restaurant has a strong focus on fresh regional produce and innovative, contemporary cuisine. It offers a la carte dining, Devonshire tea and high tea in a spacious and airy environment showcasing high ceilings, exposed beams, hardwood floors, antique furniture and full-length windows for stunning views.

For functions and corporate events, Centennial Vineyards offers a range of premium spaces to suit groups of all sizes. The restaurant and verandah spaces can host 180 sit-down guests, or 300 people in a cocktail setting. The verandah on its own can host 60 people for intimate gatherings, while the outdoor Tuscan courtyard is framed with creamy sandstone, an open fireplace and fountain, which is perfect for alfresco dining or marquees. The upstairs vineyard room can also host 12-80 guests.

Visitors also flock to Centennial Vineyards for special events, including performances by Australian and international musicians including Sting, Chris Isaak, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Vika and Linda, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Stevens and James Reyne.

Pinnacle Team Events

Conferences and events held at Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral can schedule team-building

spicenews.com.au 65 Destination
The serene Centennial Vineyards Bowral

activities in itineraries, with the crew from Pinnacle Team Events able to come onsite to coordinate fun and engaging programs.

The company is driven by energetic corporate facilitators and event organisers who share a passion for making a difference in people’s lives. Their programs and events are thought-provoking, educational and motivational, and range from 30-minute activities to full-day action.

There are more than 100 team-building activities to choose from, including outdoor pursuits such as archery, laser clay shooting and lateral-thinking exercises; indoor engagement such as “paint and sip”, cocktail masterclasses, meditation and corporate social responsibility challenges; night events such as murder mysteries and trivia; and exercise sessions such as bootcamp, yoga and Pilates.

The company can cater for groups ranging in size from 10 to 1000 people.

Bradman Museum

Honouring Australian sporting icon Don Bradman, the Bradman Museum in Bowral is a place of national significance. As the greatest cricketer of all time, Bradman’s legacy lives on at this precinct that is home to the museum, Bradman Oval, Memorial Garden and Glebe Park.

Bowral is the town where Bradman spent his formative years honing his craft. The museum is a shrine to his life, career, achievements and the game of cricket – past, present and future.

Bradman Museum houses many spaces ideal for various events, team meetings, board meetings, corporate gatherings and training. The Pavilion has a boardroom and Private Bradman Library with audiovisual and conferencing equipment suitable for meetings and small groups.

Other spaces include the Pavilion Club Room; the upper outdoor pavilion deck for cocktail events and small gatherings; a theatrette that seats 100 people; the Museum Gallery that can host corporate events; and a tiered grandstand for informal outdoor events.

Craft breweries

For lovers of craft beer, the Southern Highlands is home to two of Australia’s finest independent breweries: Eden Brewery, in Mittagong, and Southern Highlands Brewing, in Moss Vale. Both businesses offer a range of artisanal craft brews, from lagers and pale ales, to IPAs and stouts, with other limited-release beers produced throughout the year.

Both breweries can cater for small groups and functions, including site tours and full venue hire. n

“Honouring Australian sporting icon Don Bradman, the Bradman Museum in Bowral is a place of national significance.”
Eden Brewery in Mittagong Bradman Oval and Bradman Museum in Bowral Action from Pinnacle Team Events
66 Spice Winter 2024 Destination
Centennial Vineyards Bowral


Melbourne prides itself on being an events city, and its bustling CBD and surrounds are tailor-made for hosting global spectacles and selling itself as a destination where business thrives, writes Gavin Dennett.

When US pop sensation Taylor Swift brought her “The Eras Tour” to Australia, in February 2024, it seemed the nation came to a standstill. Her sold-out concerts dominated headlines and each city she performed in was flooded with visitors clad in their idol’s merchandise. Hotels were full, cafes and bars thrived, and each respective state’s economy beamed from the spending injection.

In Victoria, Swift’s three colossal shows at the MCG packed in almost 300,000 fans. The day after her final show, AIME 2024 kicked off at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), providing an interesting segue from the American’s publicity machine – and other big-ticket items in town such as the Australian Open tennis in January, and Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix in March – to the Asia-Pacific region’s biggest event on the business meetings and events calendar.

For all the hype, and to some degree, hysteria, of the Swift extravaganza, and the trumpeting of revenue it brings in, business events are kicking the same goals. In 2024, it is projected business events in Victoria will deliver $397.4 million in economic benefit to the state. As a world-class city comfortable hosting huge conferences and events, Melbourne is an obvious choice when choosing a destination for delegates.

“Events are in our DNA,” Julia Swanson, chief executive officer of Melbourne Convention Bureau, tells Spice. “It is a natural strength built into our culture, infrastructure, jobs and overall mentality.

“Melbourne is an events city, with such a strong major events and business events sector. Having the Australian Open and Grand Prix, plus all the events throughout the year, means we have a robust supply chain that is always staffed up and ready to deliver.

“With those three Taylor Swift shows, the city could absorb it – the hotels and flights accommodated it, and extra public transport was put on.”

In the past decade, business events have done plenty of heavy lifting in Victoria, generating $2.7 billion.

“The Victorian Government really understands the business events sector, with big infrastructure at places such as Marvel Stadium and MCG, and diversity in our products,” says Swanson.

“We are bidding to 2030 and planning for the long term, which gives clients, destinations and venues certainty, and supports growth. But we can’t rest on our laurels so need to continue to innovate and do things differently.”

At the epicentre of Melbourne’s business events industry is MCEC, which is nestled on the bank of the Yarra River and hosts large conferences, expos

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Above: Plenary at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

and events throughout the year. The venue’s chief executive, Natalie O’Brien AM, acutely understands the importance of business events to Victoria’s economy.

“It feels that business events don’t generate the publicity compared to a football game or big concert event,” she tells Spice. “They are not quite as visible so the messaging has to work a bit harder. But most people have attended business events conferences; there isn’t an industry the business events sector doesn’t touch as there is an association for everything, meaning there are so many opportunities to explore.

“At MCEC, we have our sense of place along the river and feel we are the fabric of Melbourne. We have this incredible centre with huge diversity of spaces, large and small, plus other Melbourne institutions on our doorstep – such as cultural and sport – that are increasingly used as selling points.

“There are several venues close to each other with great connectivity and city attractions for pre-event and post-event activities.”

For event planners looking at Melbourne for a city business event, the following venues deliver cutting-edge experiences highlighting the best of the Victorian capital.


Our expert culinary chefs have carefully crafted a menu that celebrates indigenous flavours and plant-based options, showcasing the finest seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.

Let our dedicated events team bring your vision to life and create an unforgettable experience for your next event.

Start planning today and take your event to new heights, email: H9875-SB@accor.com

192 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne. pullmanonthepark.com.au/meetings

Marvel Stadium in Docklands
Elevate your event at...
Surrounded by the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens, with iconic views of the MCG and right next to Melbourne’s premier Sports and Entertainment Precinct, Pullman Melbourne on the Park is the ideal venue.

Marvel Stadium

“The Victorian Government really understands the business events sector, with big infrastructure at places such as Marvel Stadium and MCG, and diversity in our products.”

The phenomenal Marvel Stadium, in Docklands, is a jewel in the heart of Melbourne. As a sports, entertainment and conferencing hub, it offers innovation and excitement, and is the only stadium in the Southern Hemisphere with a retractable roof.

In 2024, it has launched its remarkable $225 million redevelopment as part of its Elevate Experiences & Events offering, featuring 26 purpose-built event spaces accommodating up to 10,000 people for galas, dinners, conferences and award ceremonies. Its Skyline and Horizon rooms are purpose-built high-end function spaces, while Stadium Square is an exterior space for public gatherings that increases the site’s footprint.

The stadium has also upped its culinary game, with fine dining options throughout, including the Skyline Room with its menu curated by Chef Hat-awarded Peter Gunn, from Collingwood restaurant Ides. Onsite restaurants Lee Ho Fook, Friends of Fire and Amphora are also reimagining stadium food and beverages, offering best-in-class experiences for guests.

Showtime Events Centre

Located next door to MCEC at South Wharf, on the Yarra River, Showtime Events Centre is a heritage warehouse venue dating back to the 19th century. As the flagship venue for Showtime Event Group, its central positioning offers skyline views and features original hardwood floorboards that blend the old and new.

Having undergone a redesign in 2010, the award-winning industrial design venue houses indoor and outdoor spaces, with the feature being a custom-designed chandelier bar and fully integrated lighting, sound desk and audiovisual equipment.

City hotels

Opened in May 2023, Dorsett Melbourne forms part of the $2.4 billion West Side Place, at the western end of the CBD. The 316-room, eight-level hotel offers stylish and elegant modern comfort, with an indoor pool, lounge, restaurant, wellness and vitality spaces, meeting rooms and the popular Jin Bar.

The 370-room Rydges Melbourne has recently reopened following an extensive renovation. Once home to Bobby McGee’s nightclub, it now features 11 versatile conference and event spaces spanning 1500 square metres across two levels, including the state-of-the-art Centre Stage function room, a 495-square-metre pillarless ballroom with seven-metre ceilings, a massive four-metre by seven-metre HD LED screen, and two 200-inch retractable HD projector screens.

On level two, the new Rooftop Terrace provides guests with outdoor space, a mobile bar and views of Her Majesty’s Theatre and Chinatown.

Overlooking the MCG, Pullman Melbourne on the Park is a newly refurbished 419-room hotel featuring 11 meeting and conference rooms with inbuilt audiovisual equipment, an executive lounge, restaurant, bar, pool and sauna. With Fitzroy Gardens, MCG, Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne and Olympic Parks on its doorstep, convenience is key here.


Move delegates around in style with Luxcoach, a unique people-mover that can seat 20 guests. An experience in this luxury coach is all about the journey, not just the destination thanks to an onboard cocktail bar, butler service, 50-inch LCD TV and bathroom. The large windows offer views of the world passing by outside, but within the coach it’s quiet and spacious, offering privacy and fun. n

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