Worth the wait: A look at The Tasman, Marriott’s newest luxury hotel in Australia

Mar 10, 2022

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When you think of Australian cities with exciting hotel scenes, Sydney or Melbourne might come to mind. However, recently Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, has been upping its accommodation game with some fabulous new boutique and luxury hotels.

The design-forward MACq 01 hotel helped transform the city’s waterfront when it opened in a massive former shipping shed a few years ago. Across Sullivan’s Cove, along lively Salamanca Place, the smaller Moss Hotel introduced a more residential style of luxury to the city when it premiered in 2019.

Perhaps the hotel that has been most hotly anticipated, however, and partly in thanks to an opening that has been delayed several times, is The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel. It opened this past December, marking this particular Marriott Bonvoy brand’s debut in Australia.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

On my recent visit Down Under, I hopped over to Hobart for two nights to experience the new hotel and all its historic grandeur for myself.

That said, I won’t be giving it the full TPG review workup for a few reasons. First, because it’s still so new and only a fraction of the 152 rooms and suites are bookable, I don’t think it would be fair to judge the hotel just yet. A tourism colleague also inadvertently alerted the hotel to my impending visit, so the management knew I was coming, but I paid for everything out of pocket, including the room and all meals. However, I was given a room tour to see some of the other categories, which I’ll detail below.

With all that in mind, here’s a snapshot of what The Tasman is like from my visit.

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Booking

Over the next few months, paid rates at The Tasman seem to start at around 370AU$ ($262). Due to the lack of full room capacity, though, they have been a little volatile. The nights I wanted to stay, for instance, saw price spikes to 670AU$ ($470) per night and only special packages available.

(Screenshot from Marriott.com)

However, even on nights where only higher rates were being charged, I was able to find award availability for just 35,000 points per night. That meant I got over 1.3 cents per point in value, well above TPG’s current valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents apiece. It also meant I could have used one of the free night certificates from my Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, which cap out at 35,000 points (though starting later in March, you should be able to top these up with up to 15,000 more points each).

(Screenshot from Marriott.com)

Location

The Tasman Hotel is located right in the heart of Hobart, adjacent to Tasmania’s Parliament. It’s across the street from leafy St. David’s Park, and just about a block from the waterfront and the bars and shops of Salamanca Place.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

That makes it easy to walk to most places in the city center — a friend and I met for Caribbean-inspired cocktails at Rude Boy on Elizabeth Street, about a 10-minute stroll away, and then continued on to a delicious dinner of fresh Tasmanian-grown, raised and fished delicacies at La Sardina Loca. I spent one afternoon exploring beautiful nearby neighborhoods including Battery Point, and you can catch the ferry to the Museum of Old and New Art at one of the closest piers to the hotel.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

My Ubers to and from the airport cost about 30AU$ ($22) and took only 20 minutes in either direction. There’s also a Hobart City Express Skybus that takes a bit longer, but only costs 19.50AU$ ($14) each way.

Architecture and design

One of the reasons so many hotel watchers have been waiting with bated breath for this particular property to open is its striking mix of architectural styles and history — well, history since Europeans arrived, that is. The human history of Tasmania and its Indigenous peoples dates back tens of thousands of years before that, of course.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

The hotel’s wings comprise hand-hewn, sandstone Georgian building remnants that date to the 1840s; an Art Deco-era wing upon which construction began in 1937 to house the state’s departments of taxation, public works, forestry and agriculture; and gleaming glass-and-steel contemporary additions.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

You can find plaques and photos, as well as display cases with unearthed trinkets around the hotel detailing the history of each building’s site, including some structures that are no longer standing.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

It might all seem too discordant, but architecture firm FJMT and interior design outfit Joseph Pang Design Consultants have managed to weave them all into an attractive pastiche by incorporating iconic Tasmanian elements, including works by local artists on the walls throughout the public areas and materials like Tasmanian oak floors and paneling and, yes, more sandstone.

Lobby and check-in

The hotel’s main entrance is through a neo-Georgian façade. It was built in the old style, but in 1920, to house the Hydro Electric Commission Office located just off Murray Street. As my car pulled up, two bellhops greeted me dressed in what looked like colorful stevedore uniforms. They promptly took my bags and escorted me into reception.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

The lobby is small but contains a striking wooden installation and screens to lend the individual reception desks some privacy.

The agent helping me thanked me for my Marriott loyalty and gave me a brief rundown of the hotel’s facilities before escorting me to the Art Deco wing elevators, which I rode up to my room on the fourth floor.

The room

As my room was in the Art Deco wing, it took that design era as its inspiration. The most eye-catching features included sculptural chrome light fixtures and richly toned fabric and leather upholstery on the furnishings, as well as a geometrically patterned carpet with concentric rectangles.

The edges of the desk, cabinetry, mirrors, chaise lounge and desk chair were all rounded out to complete the look. There were also contemporary touches like a wall-mounted flatscreen television, a DeLonghi espresso maker, cordless handheld phones and touchscreen buttons to control the lights and curtains.

My favorite element was the dramatically lit recessed ceiling vault, paneled in gorgeous Tasmanian blackheart sassafras (hence the dark staining). I flopped down on the king-size bed (made up in Frette linens) just to stare at it for a few minutes after I arrived.

The bathroom was equally dramatic, tiled with striated gray limestone. There was a single marble sink and a spa-like walk-in shower with both an overhead and a wall-mounted, handheld showerhead. The bath products were by Australian botanical brand Grown Alchemist, though the hand soap was from one of my favorite local companies, Beauty and the Bees, made from Tasmanian dairy cream and leatherwood honey — the scent was heavenly.

Speaking of local products, the minibar was also impressive on that front, containing Tassie wines like a Simla white-wine field blend, Lark Distillery whiskey, Coal River Farm chocolate and dry-roasted almonds from the Huon Valley.

The two (minor) inconveniences I found in the room were that it wasn’t too comfortable working at the desk due to the low rise of the chair’s back and the fact that the windows didn’t open, though that helped with the soundproofing and I could have asked the technical staff to open them.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

As I mentioned, I got to see a few other room categories including those in the Heritage wing, which even have gas fireplaces and gleaming marble bathrooms complete with deep soaking tubs. They tend to cost 50AU$ ($35) more per night than the Deluxe room I had in the Art Deco building.

I also toured a room in the Panoramic category in the contemporary floor additions above the Art Deco wing. They boast floor-to-ceiling windows for uninterrupted views of the city and the harbor, though they also cost over 200AU$ ($140) more per night in general.

 

Food and beverage

The Tasman’s flagship restaurant is a contemporary Italian eatery called Peppina from chef Massimo Mele, and is situated at the end of the Heritage building along the ground floor with an entrance on Parliament Square.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

There is outdoor seating on the plaza, though most of the tables, as well as the open kitchen and a bar, are inside. The dining room feels like a greenhouse or a garden with huge skylights, brick planters holding small olive trees and a mix of blond wood tables and green-upholstered chairs and booths.

If breakfast isn’t included in your stay, expect to pay 38AU$ ($27) for the sumptuous buffet — which included a spread of fresh fruits and vegetables, pastries, smoked fish and seafood, cereals, yogurt and more — plus made-to-order eggs and sides like bacon, pan-fried mushrooms and buttered Tasmania greens.

I skipped the smorgasbord and instead ordered scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with a side of pork-fennel sausage plus a cappuccino and the total came to 20AU$ ($14).

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

I joined two friends for dinner there that evening and we agreed to share the “Tutti a Tavola” tasting menu for 80AU$ ($56) per person. The five courses included starters like fresh local oysters with mignonette, pickled sardines with pine nuts and fennel on crostini, and fried pizza dough with smashed zucchini, chili and oregano. We tried the fluffy gnocchi with stracciatella and cherry tomatoes next and oven-roasted pork belly with tangy salsa verde and potato cream for our main before tiramisu for dessert. The food was delicious and refined, but not snooty. It also went very well with the mostly Australian wine list, including an earthy but vibrant Sangiovese from Latta in Victoria.

More of a casual hangout, the Deco Lounge is located near the lobby and serves small bites and drinks throughout the day in a comfortable, living room-like space, though there are also some tables just outside on the square. Thursday-Sunday evenings, you can even get a half-dozen Tasmanian oysters and a glass of Arras sparkling wine from Tasmania for 25AU$ ($18) — a relative steal.

Finally, the hotel has a speakeasy-style bar named Mary Mary (a reference to St. Mary’s Hospital, which once stood here). The creative cocktails, which ranged from around 18-22AU$ ($13-$15) included the Apiarist’s Manhattan with a beeswax-infused rum blend, Port and bitters; and the True Local with apple brandy, raspberry aperitif, vermouth and apple juice. Fun fact, the parquet flooring was laid out by hand using salvaged timber from the construction site.

The bar serves small bites like oysters, olives, octopus with almond cream, salumi and cheese plates, but I didn’t sample any of those ahead of dinner at Peppina.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

Other amenities

Aside from the bars and restaurants, as well as a few meeting rooms that double as wine cellars of sorts, the hotel’s main amenity is a small fitness center.

It contains stationary bikes, treadmills, an elliptical, free weights and a few weight machines and some space for stretching, though it didn’t seem to get much use during my visit.

 

Overall impression

Though its opening was delayed a few years by factors including the pandemic, The Tasman certainly feels like it was worth the wait. I thought the site’s history and architecture were fascinating and the Art Deco room I stayed in was beautifully appointed and very comfortable for both working and resting.

Peppina turned out to be one of the hottest tables in town and the drinks at Mary Mary were excellent, though the hotel’s location meant it was easy to venture out and explore Hobart’s other eateries and bars, too.

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

While I won’t comment formally on the staff or service, I can say that every interaction I had was friendly and pleasant, with most folks excited just to greet a non-Australian visitor for the first time in two years. I wouldn’t hesitate to book here again, though I’ll aim for rates on the lower end of the spectrum or more award nights if I get back to The Tasman. Perhaps I’ll also consider upgrading to one of the Heritage rooms for views of the park and evenings lit by the flames from my private fireplace.

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