Inside 1 Hotel & Homes: the global brand bringing a new era of luxury to Seafarers

For the first time in two years, we welcomed to Melbourne the SH Hotels & Resorts team to sign off on guest room prototypes for the hotelier’s debut 1 Hotel & Homes project in Australia.


Luxury travellers are set to benefit from the rapid global expansion of sustainable hotelier SH Hotels & Resorts, as the brand’s first Melbourne property reaches a new project milestone at Seafarers.

SH Hotels & Resorts senior vice president of design Tony Machado visited Melbourne in May to sign off on guest room prototypes for the hotelier’s debut 1 Hotel & Homes project in Australia, located at Riverlee’s $550 million heritage project, Seafarers, in the CBD’s Northbank precinct.

As the first mission-driven lifestyle hotel brand inspired by nature, 1 Hotels successfully merges sustainability with luxury, pointing towards an emerging trend in five-star travel amid discerning travellers who are interested in personal wellbeing and the local environment.

With the hotelier on track to expand its offering to 25 hotels over the next five years, in global destinations including Paris, London and Copenhagen, Mr Machado said the brand’s commitment to sustainability and conscious design was resonating with a new era of luxury travellers around the world.

“We find we have created a collective. Whether it’s hotel guests or like-minded companies that have the same core values, they seek us out,” he said.

“Coming out of the pandemic, this real notion of wellness is front of mind and people are thinking about how we live, breathe and interact in all of our spaces and with the environment. The wellness component is something we’re really bringing forward, looking at everything from air quality in the rooms to operable windows and carving out spaces for wellness amenities.”

SH Hotels & Resorts invest in a range of sustainable initiatives, from intelligent energy management systems that reduce consumption by an average of 17 per cent, to signature in-room water refill stations that are estimated to have saved 1.2 million plastic bottles in one property alone.

A brand focused on localising its design by referencing the unique surrounds of each property, 1 Hotel Melbourne will take inspiration from the heritage-protected Goods Shed No.5 being restored as part of the project, with the original wharf timbers, roof trusses, purlins and columns from the historic site being incorporated into the building’s interior.

The design was also inspired by a trip to regional Victoria led by interior design firm One Design Office (ODO) at the commencement of the project. ODO and 1 Hotels are working in partnership to deliver guest rooms and common areas such as the lobby, bar, signature restaurants, swimming pool and day spa.

Determined to connect nature with all touchpoints of the 1 Hotel experience, Mr Machado said understanding the city’s culture and Victoria’s natural environment were crucial to both the aesthetics and functionality of common spaces.

“Breakfast is kind of a big deal in Melbourne, for example, so we start to organise the spaces based on these observations. Our coffee bar won’t necessarily just be for guests because we’re on the waterfront adjacent to this incredible park, and we want to draw people into the space to create a local hub,” he says.

“The Goods Shed is this amazing, cathedral-like heritage space that we have really drawn from because it has a very magical feeling inside. We then looked at the waterfront, and wanted to find out what was upstream and downstream of it too, to bring it all together,” Mr Machado said.

“Walking through the Dandenong Ranges, with those incredible forests with gigantic ferns, it felt very prehistoric. The takeaway was the layering – the natural materials, the colour palettes – which tended to be very rich, and the exaggerated sense of scale, which is how we have applied the DNA of the brand to this specific location.”

As the first 1 Hotel in Australia, Mr Machado said he was confident locals would embrace the brand DNA in the same way their local project partners had.

“We are creating a very unhotel hotel, so for that I’m very excited and I think it will be well received,” he said.

“What has been really inspirational is how everyone has really embraced what we stand for. We’re all looking for the same end result, which is a great product that has meaning. With Riverlee, I feel like we’re part of the family – it’s very collaborative and we absolutely have shared values,” he said.

Riverlee project director Brett Howlett says SH Hotels & Resorts’ arrival in Australia speaks to the rising demand for sustainable luxury accommodation.

“There has been a fundamental shift in our social conscience around sustainability. This is not just evident in younger generations, we are now seeing the rise of the eco-Boomer. Responsibility around the environment is increasingly influencing the way we all choose to live, work and travel,” he says.

“Coming out of the pandemic, people are also thinking about the wellness benefits of immersing in nature, which is another reason why 1 Hotels’ nature-inspired ethos has resonated with our purchasers at Seafarers.”

Seafarers will comprise a limited collection of 120 luxury residences and 277 guest rooms. Not yet seen in Melbourne, the branded residential concept is an integration of residences and hotel that provides residents with exclusive access to the hotel’s amenities and services, as well as priority status across 1 Hotel properties globally.

Crafted by Riverlee in collaboration with renowned firms Fender Katsalidis, Oculus, CARR design and ODO, Seafarers is marked for completion in 2024.