Canberra's grand dame eyes international market under Accor brand

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One of Canberra’s most historic hotels, Olims, is aiming for a new global audience following its $8m upgrading program and relaunch under Accor’s Mercure brand.

Now branded as Mercure Canberra, the hotel is offering a special accommodation package as part of its strategy to raise awareness about the changes.

The National Trust listed hotel was on Canberra's pioneering properties, originally launching 80 years ago as the Ainslie Hotel before becoming the Ainslie Ladies Hotel in the 1940s, the Ainslie Rex hotel in the 1950s, and then Olims in 1989.

One of the owners Jerry Schwartz said that the management was looking forward to the hotel getting a new lease of life following the renovations and rebranding.

"It’s an exciting new era for the ‘grand dame’ of Canberra hotels, but while the accommodation will add 21st century comforts, the hotel’s exterior and ambience will definitely retain its heritage style," he said.

"The hotel has been very popular with the local market since it was launched as the Ainslie, but with the new look and style, and Canberra’s growing popularity with international travellers, it was time to give the hotel global branding.”

Accor already manages three other Schwartz Family Company hotels - Mercure Sydney, Ibis World Square and Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, which is also undergoing a major upgrading program.

The 128-room Mercure Canberra has already completed much of the renovation program, with all standard rooms receiving new bathrooms, new paint, new furnishings and fittings. The completely refurbished entry and foyer have been given an "early Australiana", theme, reflecting the hotel’s historic nature and a new restaurant has been launched to complement the Bistro. Refurbishment of the remainder of the public areas and rooms will be completed by the end of the year, with each wing separated so that guests will not be disturbed. The bar will retain the Ainslie Bar name in honour of the hotel’s origins.

The Mercure first opened in 1927 as the Hotel Ainslie, coinciding with the launch of Old Parliament House. Built in English deco style, it quickly became the centre of Canberra’s social scene and today is still a popular meeting point for locals, dignitaries, politicians and business people.

The hotel has been entered on the Royal Institute of Architect’s Register of Significant 20th Century Architecture and on the Australian Heritage Commission’s Register of National Estate.


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