During the 1860's, the American inventor George Pullman developed the world's first luxury rail sleeping car; and in doing so changed the face of rail travel forever. Dubbed the Pullman Sleeper or the Palace Car, Pullman expanded his operation extensively - that by the mid-twentieth century, the name Pullman became synonymous with opulent and lavish travel.
Today the Pullman name lives on - as an international upscale hotel brand launched in 2007 under the Accor banner. In Australia, there have traditionally been two Pullman properties; the Pullman Cairns Reef Casino and the Pullman Sydney Olympic Park.
However, the brand is set to grow significantly around the country - a move made possible by Accor's acquisition of the Mirvac Group's hotels in December 2011. A total of 43 hotels that were formally operated by Mirvac are now under the Accor wing.
Chief Operating Officer of Accor Pacific, Simon McGrath, said growing the Pullman brand in Australia was a key priority for the group, with many of the former Mirvac hotels scheduled to be re-branded to Pullman over the next twelve months.
"The Pullman brand holds such a rich history and is highly regarded throughout Asia and Europe, and it makes sense for us to grow this brand in Australia where there is clear demand for quality internationally-branded hotels aimed at the corporate and upscale leisure markets," said Mr McGrath.
"There is considerable investment being made in the Pullman network in both Australia and internationally, and the expansion of the brand in Australia comes at a time when the brand is launching signature hotels in other major centres around the world. Pullman is already a major brand in key source markets for Australia across Asia and Europe, and it is anticipated that there will be some 150 Pullman hotels and resorts by 2015."
In May this year, the Sydney Marriott Hotel became the first former Mirvac property to be rebranded as a Pullman. In doing so the property received a $7 million refurbishment to ensure guests enjoy the accepted plush Pullman standards. This was followed by the rebranding of Quay West Resort Bunker Bay to Pullman Resort Bunker Bay in September. Quay Grand Suites Sydney rebranded to Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour on October 10 and the Sebel Cairns became the Pullman Cairns International on October 17.
Today, Accor announced that the Sebel King George Square Brisbane will now be known as the Pullman Brisbane King George Square. The team are currently assessing additional Mirvac properties, to see which other hotels would potentially suit the Accor brand. The Sebel Albert Park Melbourne will rebrand to Pullman from February 2013.
As part of the rebranding process, the Brisbane property will experience a $7 million renovation including a complete redesign of the lobby - which will feature a blue and green water hues inspired by the Brisbane River and the coastal region.
The property's General Manager, Grant Parnell said, "As it was Brisbane's first international hotel in the 70s, it seems fitting that in 2012 the hotel once again has an international brand atop its porte-cochere and will deliver to the city impeccable service."
According to Simon McGrath Pullman hotels are a favoured hotel for business travellers with all guest rooms fitted with work desks and chairs, high speed internet, a connectivity panel and docking stations.
"Pullman hotels also place an emphasis on 'meetings with a difference'. The Pullman Co-Meeting promise ensures seamless business whatever the occasion. Pullman hotels typically specialise in medium to large meetings, events and functions. The Co-Meeting take on events includes dedicated meeting areas, latest-generation equipment, innovative breaks and special-purpose meetings teams with an allocated 'event concierge' to each and every event," said Mr McGrath.