The 15th floor lounge billed as Canberra's most exclusive has quadrupled its membership in less than a year.
QT Hotel's invite-only lounge overlooking Civic targeted the nation's top 300 influencers, from federal cabinet members to ambassadors and business leaders, when it opened 15 months ago. Now it is clear those originals have invited their other powerful friends.
QT Canberra director of food and beverage Tarn Morrow said earlier this year members were able to nominate five people to join them on the list, which now numbered about 1200.
"For the first probably six months we were very strict on that [300-limit], obviously to allow that exclusiveness or alignment with our brand, here in Canberra it's all about influencers," he said.
"The first 300 were the top 200 ASX executives in Australia, frontbench from a political point of view – it was and still is key influencers."
Property heavyweight Paul Powderly, one of the original members, said he had shared a few drinks with ACT MLAs at the venue but it was mostly used for private sector events or discussions.
"I've been there 40 or 50 times, I've never seen many politicians there," he said.
The Colliers International ACT state chief executive said the venue was under utilised, but was gaining in popularity.
"It's a good opportunity to go to the top of Canberra, it's got great food and wine, and what I like is you can book it for functions," he said.
New bar and lounge manager Jason Hirt said interest from those who knew members was strong. Approval – the criteria for which is naturally unpublished – in the main had to come from the company's managing director or general manager.
And once they've swiped their electronic pass to enter the light-filled, panoramic setting – there's some private rooms, but the lounge is mostly open plan, compact lounge chairs lined up for one-on-one chats – what is it they do up there?
"It can be to have the casual off-the-books chat, and to have that business meeting where it's not that formal," Mr Hirt said.
A fully stocked bar sits at one end of the lounge, while the one-hatted Capitol Bar & Grill restaurant downstairs delivers the quality dining a captain of industry, including many based interstate, would expect.
Private lounge areas have been converted to private dining areas, and with widescreen TVs sharing the news visible from most vantage points, the feel – at least at 3pm, when this humble reporter was allowed access – was very much of a place of modern business, with not a leisurely cigar or leather couch to be seen.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.