by Amanda Clarke
10th April, 2018
Il Mondo Boutique Hotel: personality and charm
The privately-owned Il Mondo Boutique Hotel is conveniently located in beautiful Kangaroo Point, known for its natural beauty, unmatched views and of course Brisbane’s most recognisable icon, the Story Bridge.
A strong and passionate team of individuals led by general manager, Chris Hillman bring their substantial skills, knowledge, and professionalism to the daily operation of this distinctive hotel.
Chris explained: “Il Mondo is an Italian word meaning ‘the world’. The hotel was designed, constructed, and initially operated by a well-known, highly respected Brisbane-based Italian family. Built in two stages, the first stage was 10 motel-,style rooms with a 60-seat restaurant, followed by a separate seven-storey building consisting of hotel-style rooms, one-bedroom apartments and two penthouse apartments.
“The complex also has a breakfast room offering a self-serve continental-style breakfast, a swimming pool and undercover secure carparking.
In 2015, a Chinese investment syndicate acquired the Il Mondo Boutique Hotel in a single buyout of the entire complex for which the purchaser holds as a freehold investment. At the time, the sale represented a record price per key, far surpassing other recent CBD fringe and metropolitan hotel sales in Brisbane.
The desirable site on which the complex sits, has favourable zoning provisions for future residential development and is only minutes from the CBD, Fortitude Valley, the Gabba and numerous transport options. Furthermore, the rooms and facilities throughout the hotel have always been fastidiously maintained with major bathroom refurbishments recently carried out, along with numerous soft furnishing refurbishments; this hotel has maintained a modern, comfortable and fresh appeal.”
Since the hotel was acquired in 2015 it has received two Certificates of Excellence from Trip Advisor 2016 and 2017 and Il Mondo is currently ranked on TripAdvisor as number 9 of 170 hotels in Brisbane.
Chris said: “We see this as a substantial achievement given that we are a privately owned and operate as an independent, non-branded hotel. Our OTA partners have also scored us quite high by way of guest reviews over the last 12 months.
“These results are incredibly heartening and confirms the passion, professionalism and effort undertaken by every member of our team,” Chris stated.
“While we are a small team, we as individuals are all motivated by the achievement of goals, both personal and business. All of us truly enjoy a challenge and respond methodically to developing strategies and solutions. One of the greatest motivators is the contribution by every team member to suggesting new ideas, improving work concepts and sharing feedback from our guests, suppliers and service providers.
In May 2017, the popular Mitoki Japanese Tapas Restaurant which forms part of the Il Mondo complex, was acquired by a new commercial tenant and extensively renovated and refurbished.
Hotel guests, locals and tourists regularly dine in this much praised restaurant, that offers ever-changing daily specials based on seasonality and availability of fresh product. Here, diners’ encounter a unique experience in a pleasant environment with an innovative twist to the Japanese cuisine.
Chris advised: “You just have to try the TakUmeshu Martini created by Takumi Otsuka, the manager of Mitoki. This umeshu plum wine-based martini cocktail is very refreshing and has a tantalising and very moreish aftertaste.” And further from the latest Menu I would highly recommend the Coral Trout lemon teriyaki which is a distinctive, flavoursome and somewhat unique dish.
What advice can you give other resort managers or potential managers?
“Focus your endeavours on the execution and delivery of the best possible service to your guests by both yourself and every member of your team. This means; anticipate and sincerely meet and go beyond the expectations and needs of every guest. At Il Mondo we believe this is one of our major points of difference.”
Take note - when Chris gives you advice – take it! After all, he is a long-term industry professional, having been involved in hospitality since the 1970s.
While studying hotel/motel management, he worked and trained at several Sydney properties including: The Cambridge Inn (Surry Hills) and Barker Lodge (Kingsford) before relocating to the Gold Coast where he held management roles at Ten the Esplanade, The Islander, Aquarius Apartments, Beachcomber and Beach Point Apartments.
Other management roles ensued, with appointments to the team of Lend Lease Leisure. (Country Comfort Motels) Chris has also owned and operated several motels, and restaurants. In recent years and, prior to his role at Il Mondo, Chris offered his expertise to the industry as an advisor to motel operators, MLR owners, receivers/liquidators, and specialist consulting and remedial management groups.
“Over time, I have had many achievements that have rendered high levels of personal satisfaction and acknowledgement, however I am now in a unique position; being surrounded by a small team of highly enthusiastic professionals who are constantly finding ways to improve the working and operational aspects of the hotel.”
Chris and his team obviously delight in engaging with their guests. “We are privileged in our daily work roles to meet and interact with a huge cross section of people from all different places and positions,” he said.
“I particularly find great interest in talking to so many different people. The points of view expressed, the sometimes-cultural differences, the concepts, and ideas, it all makes for a broad understanding of life at large.”