From old town to new school, Medina rebrands

TO SIMPLIFY things for jet-setters, Toga Hotels has renamed 17 Medina hotels in Australia to Adina — the name used internationally for its apartment hotels (mostly in Germany). The Medina moniker will still apply to just four Australian properties: Medina Serviced Apartments Canberra and Medina Serviced Apartments Double Bay, North Ryde and Martin Place (all in Sydney).

The chief executive of Toga, Rachel Argaman, says: "The distinction between Adina Apartment Hotels and Medina Serviced Apartments is clear — Adina is apartment-style accommodation with full hotel service and Medina represents the traditional serviced-apartment offering."

Toga is adding more properties to its portfolio. The 111-apartment Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach, on Bondi's hip Hall Street, is set to open midyear, while the $28 million Vibe Hotel and Conference Centre will open late next year in Marysville, the Victorian town ravaged by bushfires in 2009. Work on the low-rise 100-room hotel is scheduled to start about midyear.

See togahotels.com.au.

Frond memories await

ANANTARA, which launched in Thailand in 2001, continues its global expansion. In September it will make its debut in Dubai when the Anantara Dubai Palm Jumeirah Resort & Spa opens on the crescent of Dubai's artificial archipelago.

Among the five-star resort's 293 rooms and suites are 18 overwater villas and a dozen beach villas. Guests can splash around on the private beach or explore 11,000 square metres of pools. Among six restaurants is an Australian-inspired grill; and there's even a shisha (water pipe) deck.

The Dubai resort complements Anantara's three Abu Dhabi properties — Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Desert Islands Resort & Spa on Sir Bani Yas Island and Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa in Abu Dhabi City.

Rooms will start from about $260 a night. See anantara.com.

Final wave for beach resort

SYDNEY'S beachfront Swiss Grand Resort & Spa, with its enviable views across iconic Bondi Beach, will soon be no longer. The 203-room property, managed by Accor, will close in April after a three-year reprieve from redevelopment in 2009 because of the global financial crisis.

The hotel will be transformed into Pacific Bondi Beach — a development comprising 95 apartments (from studios to a three-bedroom penthouse that could fetch $15 million), a 69-apartment boutique hotel and a two-level retail and dining precinct.

Swiss Grand rooms start from $220 a night. See swissgrand.com.au.

Virgin eyes Windy City

WITH properties ranging from Makepeace Island on the Sunshine Coast to a Swiss ski lodge and a Moroccan resort, hyperactive entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is in the business of luxury retreats. Now he's launching his latest venture — Virgin Hotels — with a property in Chicago.

He recently visited the downtown site — the 1928 27-storey Old Dearborn Bank building — and announced work would begin this month, with an expected opening in 15 months.

See virginhotels.com.

Send room service items to Jane Reddy at jreddy@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

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