ACT News


Inside-out Guggenheim-styled Vibe Hotel brings luxury accommodation to airport

When Canberra's own inside-out Guggenheim lookalike opens for business on Monday, the punters are going to get more than they bargained for.

Canberra Airport's Richard Snow said while the strikingly designed Vibe Hotel was five-star in quality, it was being marketed at a 4.5-star price point.

"We always wanted to build a top class hotel, and I believe it [The Vibe] is that quality," he said.

"But we are in a business-oriented market and the public service has a threshold on room rates. We have had to grapple to get the right [marketing] fit for the site."

Both the design and execution of the $50 million, seven-storey, 191-room hotel were strong talking points when members of the Australian Property Institute conducted a site visit on Wednesday.

Warren Prince, an API associate, was impressed.


"The hotel presents very well," he said. "A lot will depend on their housekeeping [however]; is the design housekeeping friendly?"

Luke Saunder of the TFE Group, which has partnered with Canberra Airport in the development, said designers, Bates Smart architects, had referenced the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York with the seven-storey-high atrium. The building's standout design feature, the atrium is pierced by large skylights and soars over the lobby, bar, restaurant and other public areas.

"We wanted a social space for both the hotel and the [adjacent] Brindabella Business Park," he said.

The Vibe, which began taking bookings online well ahead of Monday's opening, has been in the pipeline for over a decade.

"We had a hotel in the airport masterplan 15 years ago," Mr Snow, Canberra Airport's head of property, said.

"With the completion of the new terminal three years ago the time was right. We ran a design competition and the Bates Smart entry just stood out.

"It was very simple; one large circle and smaller circles around it."

The project has been an economic driver for Canberra at a time when the construction sector was slowing down. It was built in less than 18 months by local firm Construction Control, and generated about 600 jobs directly and indirectly during the construction phase. Each room cost an average of $250,000 to build and fit out.

The Vibe has a strategic role to play in Canberra Airport's ongoing development.

Mr Snow echoed previous statements by Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron that it would strengthen the case to bring international flights directly to the ACT.

"We are working closely with the carriers [on international flights]," he said. "It has been a long journey; it is getting closer, but at this stage there is no more news to report."