Ovolo Hotels brings its quirky vision to Sydney.
No detail was too small, no idea too outlandish when Girish Jhunjhnuwala opened his first hotel in 2002.
"I thought about all the things that irked me about hotels I've stayed in, about the unfriendliness once you get to your room," says the Hong Kong entrepreneur, "and I used those experiences to model what became Ovolo."
Among his family-owned company's nine hotels are two new Sydney acquisitions, in landmark heritage buildings: a former wool store in Pyrmont, refurbished and rebranded Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour, and the wharf-front Blue Sydney, reopened last month as Ovolo Woolloomooloo after extensive renovation. Other properties are in Hong Kong and one is in Melbourne's Little Bourke Street.
Though the look of each hotel is different, they share features that Jhunjhnuwala says are designed to make the hotel experience "effortless and connected", offering all-inclusive services and carefully designed communal spaces. Ovolo hospitality extends to nightly happy hours, free minibar and breakfast, 24-hour gyms, Apple TV and self-service laundries. "The number-one requirement of travellers - business and leisure - is to stay connected," says Jhunjhnuwala, so Ovolo hotels have always had free, high-speed WiFi with no limits on data or devices and an oversupply of USB charging points.
Both Sydney hotels showcase contemporary Australian art - the walls in the 90-room Ovolo 1888 are hung with bold murals by Jasper Knight. The most striking transformation is in the cavernous entrance to the 100-room Woolloomooloo hotel, which has become a tree-lined laneway of lounges, bars and dining areas - a kind of grown-up playground, with three retro video-game tables, featuring Space Invaders, too.