The Darling Hotel & Spa: Distinctively Darling

Part of The Star’s $870-million redevelopment in Sydney, Australia, The Darling Hotel & Spa won Best New Hotel Construction & Design 2012 at the Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards.

The Darling Best Tech Hotel at the 2012 HM Awards

Making the most of stunning views of Darling Harbour and the surrounding city of Sydney, The Star complex boasts two hotels, penthouses, serviced apartments, 20+ restaurants, bars, cafés, an infinity pool, a 16-room day spa, an entertainment center, plus upscale retail and casino areas.

As part of the multi-million redevelopment, The Star features a new Event Center that caters to international performers, smaller concerts, corporate conferences, exhibitions, and 1,000-seat banquet functions. Perhaps the key feature is The Darling, Sydney’s newest 5-star hotel offering 171 luxurious rooms and suites with views of the city skyline and harbor. It was recently named one of the Top 60 Best New Hotels in the World by Condé Nast Traveler magazine and was the winner of the Best Tech Hotel at the 2012 HM Awards. It is the first five-star boutique hotel to be built since the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The Darling Hotel: Designed by Cox Richardson Architects

Designed as a stand-alone hotel – with its own entrance, reception, and aesthetic – The Darling brings the total rooms and suites at The Star to over 650 across three towers. It is also home to Sokyo, a contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar.

Following the Australian tradition of “Design and Construct,” Cox Richardson Architects were commissioned to design the hotel, and the designs were then interpreted and built by Brookfield Multiplex Building Co. with interiors by DBI Interiors and Laurence Lee. The lighting was accomplished by Point of View (POV), an award-winning Australian independent design consultancy with studios in Sydney and Melbourne. The firm specializes in lighting design, audio visual, and theater systems design.

The Darling Hotel Point of View Lighting

According to Mark Elliott, design director of POV, the role of lighting design is to interpret the interior design and enhance the aesthetic using light. “In a casino hotel you can often go further with lighting elements than with a city hotel,” Elliott explains about his dramatic lighting scheme. “The biggest challenge was the double height atrium that occupies half of the lobby space,” he notes.

In such a tall space, creating a feeling of intimacy can be difficult.  The POV team installed light sources at low levels: floor lamps, integrated joinery lighting, and in-ground luminaires. The feature wall behind the reception desk is deliberately done in a red tone that draws the eye through to the low ceiling zone.

Chandeliers were hung to add a sense of luxury and help to fill the triple height void without competing with the architecture of the atrium roof.  “We up-lit the flanking sandstone walls to bring the lighting to a human level and draw the eye down from the sky beyond,” Elliott remarks.

He lit the Spa for comfort rather than function. Since spas are a lucrative addition to hotels, the lighting is critical for making clients comfortable in a space where they might otherwise feel vulnerable or exposed.

“I love lighting spas,” Elliott comments. “You can push darkness to its limits and fully explore the drama of shadows.” Integrated light plays a huge role, for example where light spills from the slots in joinery and provides an indirect illumination that promotes relaxation.

The POV team worked closely with the interior designers from DBI. “We have a close working relationship with DBI and have delivered hospitality projects together in Abu Dhabi,” Elliott says. POV has also previously collaborated with Cox Richardson Architects on The Sydney Convention Centre.

What the client, Echo Entertainment, wanted to achieve was a beautiful destination hotel that complements the new casino development and draws clientele across the harbor to the complex.

Larry Mullin, CEO of Echo Entertainment Group, concludes, “We think it’s an innovative and aesthetically beautiful building that appeals to business and leisure travelers looking for something different from chain hotels.”

About Edward Frebowitz
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