NYT persp’ on Melbourne
I came upon this New York Times argument for placing Melbourne in #15 among the 41 places to go in 2011:
With a bunch of new hotels and restaurants led by notable chefs cropping up, Melbourne has been stealing the spotlight from its sister city, Sydney. The most notable addition comes from the luxury brand Crown, which is investing 1 billion Australian dollars (about the same in U.S. dollars) to expand its sprawling Crown Entertainment Complex on the southern bank of the Yarra River. In April it opened Australia’s largest hotel, the 300-million-dollar 658-room Crown Metropol, which has an infinity pool on the 27th floor with 180-degree views of the city, and is home to the Maze and Maze Grill, the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s first endeavors Down Under. The complex also includes the Crown Towers hotel, which has four private penthouse gaming salons with 360-degree views of Melbourne’s skyline.
The city’s thriving arts scene now has stylish boutique hotels to match, too. Three Art Series Hotels, inspired by (and featuring the works of) famous artists, opened in the last year. The Olsen, named for the landscape painter John Olsen, is the flagship of the group, with 229 rooms (from 215 dollars a night) and a heated, glass-bottomed swimming pool.
Visiting foodies will be able to choose from a number of new restaurants. In October, the Australian chef Neil Perry, of Rockpool in Sydney, opened Spice Temple, a 200-seat contemporary Szechuan restaurant next door to his Rockpool Bar & Grill in the Crown complex, as well as a new bar, the Waiting Room, in the lobby of the Crown Towers hotel. Also within the Crown complex, a new seafood restaurant, the Atlantic, will debut in February with Donovan Cooke as executive chef.
This is fairly puzzling, Not the fact that Melbourne is on the list, of course, this is indeed an attractive and thriving city I enjoyed living in the past two weeks. But the reasons provided here are just so unappealing. A new expensive hotel? Duh. A new restaurant? Doh. (Plus, there already is a highly rated Spice Temple in Sydney! Why bother with a replica?) Reading through the series with a new eye makes me seriously wonder if this is anything else but covert advertising… (In the 2012 version of this NYT list, Montpellier appears as the French entry…not for its beautiful medieval centre but for its modern architecture and for its tramway, which has been completed but which construction created such a traffic nightmare over the years I have visited Jean-Michel Marin there.)