The business hotels that CEOs prefer to stay at

Conferences, business deals, and strategy meetings mean a lot of time away from home for most CEOs, which translates to plenty of time spent in hotel rooms.

So when it comes to finding the right home away from home, CEOs learn pretty quickly which hotels make them feel loved and which have them heading for the check-out counter.

It's not surprising that former Olympic swimmer Michael Klim always looks for a good pool and a well-appointed fitness centre when deciding on a hotel. "I still love swimming, for me the pool is a place where the phones never go off and I don't receive any emails," he says.

Klim, the CEO of skincare company MILK and Co, has a home in Bali, but actually lives at the Olsen Hotel in Chapel Street when he returns to his Melbourne headquarters. The hotel is walking distance to Klim's head office in nearby Richmond.

He has had a corner studio apartment at the Olsen for the past two years. When his children are in town (they are schooled in Bali) he rents out the adjoining room for them. Klim says the Olsen is not only a stylish space; it has good business facilities where he can scan, fax and hold board meetings. Plus it offers easy transfers to and from the airport, and free WiFi.

It's the little things

"It's those little things that may seem basic, but so many other hotels fail to deliver on," he says. "Such as friendly staff and super-comfortable beds. To me, the Olsen feels homely, not like a hotel at all. I just wish they'd put some MILK products in the bathrooms."

And Klim's favourite Sydney Hotel? "The QT. It might not be business focused but it's quirky and the restaurant is good. I also stay at the Intercontinental; they are very switched-on when it comes to business travellers, especially when it comes to dining and business facilities."

Indeed, this month the Intercontintental Sydney opened a new fine dining restaurant – 117 Dining. With chefs Tamas Pamer and Jarrod Walsh behind the stoves, it promises to join the top ranks of hotel cuisine in the Sydney CBD.

Sweat it out

Like Klim, LJ Hooker CEO Grant Harrod also looks for a decent gym when shopping for a hotel. "I like the gym to be a good size and with new equipment," he says. "Not a cupboard with a busted exercise bike."


Harrod says he also looks for value for money, friendly and helpful staff, a hearty buffet breakfast and free unlimited WiFi.

When in Melbourne he stays at the Crown Promenade. His choice in Brisbane is the Sheraton.

A pool for a morning swim is also important to Luke Littlefield, the CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Australia and New Zealand. In Sydney he stays at the Shangri-La (which offers a health club with a fully-equipped gymnasium and indoor swimming pool), while a trip to Brisbane sees him at the Emporium.

Living in Sydney, Shoretel managing director Jamie Romanin says he doesn't need a local hotel, and interstate and international guests are booked into the North Sydney Harbourview Hotel. "The location is convenient to our Australian office which is across the road, and the views are fantastic over the Harbour and Lavender Bay," he says.

Ticket to ride

When in Melbourne, Romanin checks into the Grand Hyatt on Collins Street. He says he likes the location (in the heart of the city), allowing him to walk to most meetings. And as a keen cyclist (he's a member of ACE – Australian Cycling Executives), the hotel is close to the main Yarra bike trail.

"I usually have a bike delivered to the hotel prior to my stay, and they look after this very well prior to my arrival, then kindly deliver it to my room," he says.

Romanin is another CEO attracted to a hotel with a dedicated place to get fit. "The Grand Hyatt has a great gymnasium, including a spin class," he says.

The personal touch is a big drawcard for Romanin. Being a long-time customer, the Grand Hyatt always books him into the same room, which has a certain layout that he likes. "There's always a welcome note from the GM, with a complimentary plate of fruit and a bottle of water waiting for me. They offer free WiFi as a platinum member and I'm able to use my Hyatt points to upgrade to club access, which gives me a lovely continental breakfast and private space to catch up on work. Every 50 stays, I receive a bottle of champagne for continued loyalty."

And in Brisbane? "The Marriott. Location is key here. It's central enough for me to visit my partners in the city and at Fortitude Valley. Plus it gives me easy access to a running track for an early morning jog."

Location, location, location

In general. Romanin says one of the main criteria he looks for in a hotel is proximity to work meetings and fitness facilities, or cycle and jogging paths. A fast and seamless check in/out process is also important, as is well-appointed rooms and good access to WiFi.

Alan Peckham, the chief knowledge officer at Herbert Smith Freehills, says location is crucial when selecting a hotel, along with rooms that are large enough to use as a temporary office, good gym facilities, free wifi and block-out blinds.

When doing business in Sydney, Peckham calls the Sheraton on the Park home.

"The hotel is exceptionally well located, across the road from our offices in Castlereagh Street, and it offers easy access to the airport," he says. "Plus the rooms are a good size, the bed is comfortable, the gym is well equipped and the Sheraton Club is excellent. I also appreciate the personal welcome and the occasional gift in the room."

Although Melbourne based, if Peckham needs to stay in the CBD, he drags his luggage to the Grand Hyatt, attracted to its convenient location, large guest rooms, and the Grand Club Lounge. He also likes the Nespresso machine in his room. "Far better than the instant coffee sachets that most hotels offer you," he says.

Good things in small packages

Some CEOs prefer smaller, boutique-style hotels, such as ISIS Australia group executive of sales and marketing, Gary Anderson. In Melbourne he heads for the Prince, a 39-room hotel in St Kilda. "The service is great there, they know me by name," says Anderson. "And If I take my bike with me, I can roll right out of the hotel and I'm on Beach Road in just a few minutes."

Anderson says The Prince is handy to the company's Melbourne office, and a tram runs past the front door. He is also attracted to the quality of food on offer in the hotel, including the award-winning Circa restaurant.

Another who opts for the boutique experience is David Bowie, the managing director of business analytics software business SAS, who often stays at the Blackman Art Series Hotel in South Melbourne.

"Apart from the expected great service, and for me convenience to our office down the road, I really like their use of original artwork themed throughout the hotel and into the rooms. It makes each room feel personalised, and not at all like a hotel."

The best of the best in business hotels

Late last year, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific magazine surveyed its readers and came up with a list of the best business hotels in the region, and the world:

Best business hotel in Melbourne

1. Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins Street, Melbourne

2. Park Hyatt, 1 Parliament Square, Melbourne

3. The Hilton, 2 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf

Best business hotel in Sydney

1. Park Hyatt, 7 Hickson Road, The Rocks

2. InterContinental, 117 Macquarie Street, Sydney

3. The Westin, 1 Martin Place, Sydney

Best business hotel in the world:

1. Shangri-La Hotel Singapore

2. Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

3. Four Seasons Hong Kong