Cairns' new hotel, Bailey by Crystalbrook Collection, opens and is filled with Australian art

Art and the environment are to be permanent guests at Cairns' newest hotel, Bailey.

Its foyer has already become a talking point thanks to a six-tonne marble mosaic of former Cairns resident Dolly the Dugong.

The mosaic took 5000 hours of labour by 25 Syrian artists, now refugees in Turkey, in a philanthropic move by the hotel's owner, Syrian businessman Ghassan Aboud.

The Cairns newcomer is the latest in the Crystalbrook Collection, which is owned by UAE-based Aboud, who is also the founder of humanitarian group Orient for Human Relief, which finds employment for Syrian refugees. The artists' depiction of the baby dugong, which was rescued from fishing nets in the 70s and found fame while she was nurtured in the Cairns Oceanarium, is the first indication of Bailey's artistic aspirations.

Located opposite the new Cairns Performing Arts Centre, the 255-room Bailey showcases works by a different Australian artist on each floor, and plans a program of art workshops and performing arts. It will also partner with the highly regarded Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, held annually mid-year.

It also signals the hotel group's commitment to environmental care, with recycled wood guest room keycards, biodegradable, plastic-free bags and disposable containers, a commitment to minimal paper use and low food miles. Crystalbrook is also a founding citizen of the Citizens of Great Barrier Reef movement. 

Having a cattle station in the Crystalbrook family means all meat is from its own property in the Atherton Tablelands, and local fish also gets a star showing on Bailey's menus. While its grill restaurant and Milk Bar are already up and running, a third restaurant, the Latin-themed Pachamama, will open on the hotel's rooftop early next year.

Choose from its urban room, which sleeps up to three, while the family rooms comprise two interconnecting rooms, sleeping up to six. Rooms come with a splash of summer, with bespoke throws and cushions by Melbourne textiles designers Bonnie and Neil.

The Crystalbrook Collection includes Sydney's Little Albion hotel and, as of last month's $41 million acquisition, the Byron at Byron. Bailey is the second of three new five-star hotels that it is opening in Cairns. The 311-room Riley – billed as the most family-oriented of its three – opened last year, making it Cairns' first new five-star hotel in 20 years.

The triumvirate will be capped off when Flynn, the so-called "wild child" of the group, also with 311 rooms, opens its new restaurant, Boardwalk Social, on January 21, 2020, with the accommodation to follow on March 31. The Kingsley, in Newcastle, is slated to open late 2020. Bringing 877 new hotel rooms to the city, all three five-star hotels are within a kilometre of each other, on or near the waterfront in Cairns' CBD.

Bailey's opening special sees stays from $199. See crystalbrookcollection.com/bailey

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