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    Australia’s last grand hotel to get $325m makeover by British designer David Collins

    Geraldine Chua

    Indonesia’s Halim Group will spend $325 million expanding the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne by more than 100 hotel rooms, making it one of Australia’s largest hotel reconstruction projects.

    The announcement follows from Heritage Victoria’s recent approval of the new interior designs for what has been billed the nation’s oldest grand hotel.

    With construction expected to start in November, a 27-storey tower of suites will sit behind the original Hotel Windsor. The north wing, which was built in 1960, will be redesigned, while existing rooms in the oldest part of the hotel are expanded from a minimum of 21sqm to a minimum of 43sqm.

    According to The Age, much of the current interior of the Windsor will be torn down, paving the way for a new hotel that features the luxury standards high-end travellers would typically expect. London-based David Collins Studio will take charge of the internal renovations, working with Heritage Victoria, Denton Corker Marshall and the Halim Group to restore the hotel.

    Works for the hotel, which opened in 1883, will include The Windsor’s Spring Street Colonnade, Grand Ballroom, the Foyer, the Heritage Suites, and the Grand Staircase.

    An artist's impression of the Windsor Hotel's redevelopment, which includes a tower at the back and new building on the right. Image: The Age

    “We want the Windsor to be a unique experience, something people come to Melbourne to experience,” said Adipoetra Halim, owner of the Halim Group.

    “We want it to be like Raffles in Singapore – to be on your bucket list.”

    The Halim Group first purchased the hotel in 2005, and had planned a moderate refurbishment of $45 million. However, this number grew to $87 million, although the rising costs did not mean more capacity. As a result, a bigger redevelopment plan was hatched to make the hotel more commercially viable.

    Hotel Windsor... set to receive a revamp to the tune of $325 million. Photo: Ruth Duncan. Source: The Age

    However, the approved Windsor makeover is expected to leave only six heritage suites left, with everything else to be new, including the lounge and lobby.

    “The last grand hotel in Australia will be compromised and become a historical section of a modern hotel,” architectural historian for Melbourne Heritage Action Rohan Storey told The Age.

    Concerns about the impact of the 27-storey tower on the parliamentary precinct of Bourke Hill, which has a 23-metre discretionary height limit, have also been raised. Various developers have already begun using the Windsor redevelopment as a precedent to argue for taller buildings in the area.

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