How about a hotel among the gum trees?

Genevieve Jacobs 9 November 2018 44

The zig-zag gardens will line a path from the gates of the National Arboretum to the Village Centre. Photo: Supplied.

A new hotel, cabins among the trees and 50 newly planted zig-zag gardens in the central valley of the National Arboretum are all coming closer as the site grows faster than a rogue willow tree. And that means that what began as a patchwork of forests is rapidly changing shape as it expands commercially.

The hotel idea isn’t a new one: it formed part of the Arboretum’s infrastructure master plan. A range of five to ten years was initially indicated as a timeline, and the expression of interest process was slated to begin when economic conditions were “suitable”. It seems that time may be now.

The ACT government expects that an Expression of Interest for the hotel will be released next year, investigating potential development partnerships. It’s quite possible those investors may come from overseas: a spokesman for the Chief Minister said that an Arboretum hotel has been identified as a future opportunity during recent trade missions.

Mr Barr said recently that the acquisition of Hotel Hotel at New Acton by the Hong Kong-based Ovolo Group indicated the effectiveness of the international trade mission process and the interest in Canberra from internationally based investors.

Friends of the Arboretum president Trish Keller is enthusiastic about the potential and thinks “the sooner the better” for the project. “At the moment we have this wonderful site, with lots of events, weddings and the like, but there’s nowhere to stay if people afterwards want to relocate. Cabins in the forest would also be well received, I think, similar to the accommodation at the zoo. It’s a great opportunity and an ideal location.”

She says interest in the Arboretum as a tourist destination and venue as well as an attraction for locals continues to be very high. “The visitors are just continuing to come. People say to me, I’m staying in town where should I go for a really special lunch, somewhere memorable? And of course, for me, the answer is always the Arboretum.”

The next major development includes 24 gardens in the Central Valley, placed along the zigzag path stretching from the entry gates to the Village Centre. Each garden bed will be planted with a particular species and Arboretum director Scott Saddler says interest has already been surprisingly strong. “We have the prospectus out but we haven’t even got the project off the ground yet and already we have commitments for five gardens.”

The gardens will be matched by the avenue of trees already being planted by dignitaries, various world leaders and celebrities in an ongoing programme. Eventually, there are plans to incorporate a water feature cascading down the spine of the path, creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment for casual strolls.

On Tuesday night (13 November) the Friends of the Arboretum will launch their first fundraising campaign. They’re seeking $50,000 after committing to sponsoring one of the zigzag gardens and Trish Keller says they’ll launch a few balloons, pop some champagne corks and celebrate the next stage of growth.

Do you think there should be a hotel at the Arboretum?


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44 Responses to How about a hotel among the gum trees?
Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:00 am 12 Nov 18

I haven’t seen any gum trees at the Arboretum – it’s over-weighted with exotic trees, most of which seem to be struggling because the location isn’t ideal.

There are enough commercial intrusions already and with more tacky themes planned the place will end up be less like an arboretum that perhaps was originally planned.

I would like to know how much money has already been sunk into the place.

    palustris palustris 1:17 pm 12 Nov 18

    About 1/3 of the forests at the Arboretum are natives, including the Western Queensland white gums to your right as you enter, and the Camden white gums immediately behind the Visitor Centre. Other eucalypts include Morrisby’s gum, Wallangarra white gum, small leaved gum, red ironbark, spotted gum and snow gums. The STEP garden and remnant forest include mixed local eucalyptus.
    The addition of a hotel will have no impact on the current plan of the Arboretum and would add some useful amenity at the Western end of the site behind Dairy farmers Hill.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:31 am 13 Nov 18

    I was there at the weekend but didn’t recognise any of those eucalypti; probably because “native” trees do not look natural in plantation arrangements.

    The ratio of exotic to native is 2:1 which in any language is “over-weighted”.

Lynne Audsley Lynne Audsley 8:17 am 12 Nov 18

Does it matter what we think, anyway? Isn’t it a done deal, like most of the current ‘development’ in Canberra?

Vikki Downing Vikki Downing 8:45 am 12 Nov 18

Would love a building with architecture to last generations not the LEGO style that is being put together at present

Mat Barber Mat Barber 8:50 am 12 Nov 18

Free parking, and the main building actually staying open longer, it closes at 4pm, unsure why when the sun is up until 7pm during daylight savings

    Jack Hearps Jack Hearps 9:48 am 12 Nov 18

    Mat Barber Yes its a lost opportunity ...how brillant to see the sun go down over a vino or coffee...lovely cool of the day to enjoy the views. 😎👍

Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 9:09 am 12 Nov 18

Now that the trees are looking advanced in size, it’d be nice to see a decent restaurant or three dotted throughout the park to take advantage of the gorgeous views of the city, the mountain range etc throughout the year. Closing early doesn’t help!

Lynne Audsley Lynne Audsley 9:37 am 12 Nov 18

I would be on board with architect designed, pod accommodation that does not dominate the treescape, along with a restaurant also in keeping with current architecture. But I don't think that is what we will be getting - that takes money and time, both things developers try to minimize.

Julie Donda Julie Donda 9:43 am 12 Nov 18

Would be nice to have more tables and chairs. Recently took some interstate visitors, on a week day, nowhere for us to sit for lunch so we left.

Jack Hearps Jack Hearps 9:45 am 12 Nov 18

Great concept and architecture would love to see a series of cabins dotted anongst trees and a hotel as long as it all contributes to the development of the site and the 'free' or low cost access and ongoing plantings.

Helene Dowdle Helene Dowdle 10:30 am 12 Nov 18

picnic areas

Christopher Hemmingsen Christopher Hemmingsen 10:42 am 12 Nov 18

I don’t think the launching of balloons is a good idea, they end up in our waterways and then the ocean!

Donna Venables Donna Venables 11:03 am 12 Nov 18

A cafe that is more child friendly to go with the playground.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:35 am 13 Nov 18

    Unfortunately more 'child friendly' cafes tend to be less adult friendly.

    Donna Venables Donna Venables 9:37 am 13 Nov 18

    Julie Macklin even just food that is child friendly would help.

    Diz Neeii Diz Neeii 8:09 pm 14 Nov 18

    Coffee that isn't swill would be a nice start...

Tim Benson Tim Benson 11:43 am 12 Nov 18

I think a partnership with zoo in the creation of a savanna including wildebeest, warthogs, elephants, zebras, rhinos, gazelles, hyenas, cheetahs, lions, leopards and ostrich would be great.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 2:49 pm 12 Nov 18

    Not at an arboretum- it is for trees!

Helen Morgan Helen Morgan 11:49 am 12 Nov 18

Love it as it is and look forward to it growing into a fabulous treasure for Canberra .

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:57 am 12 Nov 18

The zoo concept is great,Tim.

I assume you are referring to an open plain/free range zoo in which case bicycle paths throughout would be an enhancement.

Vic Srbinovski Vic Srbinovski 1:20 pm 12 Nov 18

Longer trading hours

Paid parking 👎

Don’t charge Sat Sun at least

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 2:31 pm 12 Nov 18

“Cabins in forests”? I don’t mind too much if there is a very contained hotel somewhere in the Arboretum, but it’s totally wrong to set up cabins as well, instead of having a forest where those of us who are PAYING for it can wander and enjoy. Inevitably tourists staying in cabins would be privileged over locals.

Karen Joy Stone Nowak Karen Joy Stone Nowak 2:34 pm 12 Nov 18

More seating for the cafe could easily be achieved by the addition of a wide deck on the Eastern side of the building facing towards the lake and Civic. Instead of just having a glass window, you could have doors opening out onto a lovely seated area, covering over the ugly grassed bit which is there now. :)

Soo Jay Soo Jay 2:37 pm 12 Nov 18

A koala sanctuary.

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 2:48 pm 12 Nov 18

The arboretum in Portland has an area for Tai chi and a small chapel - felt appropriate to me set amongst mature trees

Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 3:21 pm 12 Nov 18

Less parking by fees

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