It’s been 28 years since Alan Bond unveiled his beachside high-rise hotel, and it’s fair to say it’s seen its ups and downs.
But things are looking good for the Rendezvous Hotel, following a sorely needed $60 million facelift by Singaporean owners Far East Hospitality. Premier Colin Barnett snipped the ribbon at a VIP event on Thursday night, unveiling renovated function spaces, ballroom, lobby and a selection of bars and cafes.
Built in the mid 1980s to capitalise on the America’s Cup defence, the hotel courted controversy from the beginning amid allegations of bribery and corruption.
In its heyday, it was the hotel of choice for visiting superstars including Cher, Bono, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Tina Turner and rock group Pearl Jam. Fans of the late King of Pop Michael Jackson swarmed the hotel during his stay in 1996 and the baby grand piano he played at the time is displayed proudly.
Equally loved and hated by locals, the Observation City precinct slowly declined from the turn of the millennium and was menaced by the increasingly dodgy crowd brawling and doing hot laps along the Esplanade strip.
While the Scarborough (AKA ‘Scabs’) beach front still isn’t the safest place to walk alone at night, there are big changes afoot to make the area more family friendly, with plans for playgrounds, promenades and pop up kiosks.
The hotel rooms and suites have also undergone an extensive make over. Gone is the saggy carpet and musty cigarette smell, replaced with clean lines, glass and handpainted murals above the bedheads.
The shower is blisteringly hot – just the way I like it – which is no mean feat given the review room I was allocated was on the 23rd floor. The king sized bed was among the most comfortable I’ve slept in, an opinion backed up by the hearty snoring down the hall.
Even the toiletries are a little bit fancy, with a full complement of lotions and potions by French Connection. Call me weird, but I dig a hotel which digs oral hygiene and I was not disappointed. Sitting on the counter were two full sized toothbrushes with tiny little tubes of toothpaste. No emergency trips to the petrol station required.
Another win was the hairdryer – the powerful, sturdy kind – though it was hidden away in a cupboard and took me a little while to find (hint, it’s near the iron).
But what you really come to Scarborough for is the view, and there’s ample view from the balcony. On a clear day you can see up past Hillarys and down to Fremantle, or just gaze wistfully at the kitesurfers below.
Hotel manager Matthew Richardson gave visitors a tour of the new features, but said there “are still a few finishing touches to go”, mostly back of house.
That was reflected in the rooms with just the odd tiny thing amiss. The bedside lamps in my room had mismatched globes, one casting a white light, the other a warm tungsten glow, which was made all the more noticeable by the absence of a main bedroom light.
Several comments were also made by visitors about the state of the bathrooms adjacent to the function rooms, which were well below par compared to the rest of the hotel.
The room service menu was generous and very reasonably priced, though the popular Vanilla day spa downstairs was quite expensive charging $600 for its premium five hour package.
Regardless, the whole place seems to have been reinvigorated. The staff seem very chirpy, the function rooms themselves are flawless, the restaurants and bars look inviting and on the whole, the Rendezvous has scrubbed up really well.
But the big question remains, will the locals like it?
The author was a guest of TFE Hotels.