Accor, the largest hotel operator in Australia, will operate Wonil Hotel Perth, a new Handwritten Collection hotel set to open at the Forrest Hall Precinct in early February 2023. Wonil is the Noongar name for peppermint tree and the new hotel is located on the banks of the Swan River surrounded by peppermint trees, adjacent to The University of Western Australia.
Through a unique operating model, net revenue from the hotel will be reinvested back into the Forrest Research Foundation (FRF) to support current and prospective scholars and fellows, and sustain FRF into the future.
As part of Accor’s new Handwritten Collection, Wonil Hotel is joining a global portfolio of charming bespoke hotels that offer an intimate and stylish hospitality experience, offering 66 short-stay accommodation rooms and open to all, from visitors to any of WA’s five universities to guests seeking a leisure break in the region. A premium dining offering with panoramic views of the Swan River and UWA’s Crawley campus will also be available, appealing to hotel guests and local residents.
Dr Richard Walley OAM, lecturer and cultural adviser in UWA’s School of Indigenous Studies, consulted with a number of Elders who agreed the name was appropriate.
“The name wonil links the hotel’s place and purpose together,” he said. “This is a significant site by the river that was known to the Noongar as a place of rest and the wonil has many uses in Noongar culture. “It’s used in medicine but also as an abode for birds and other animals and a place of wisdom.”
The hotel completes the development of the Forrest Hall Precinct, which also includes 52 rooms for scholars and fellows, and office space for the Minderoo Foundation — one of Australasia’s largest philanthropies. The Forrest Hall Precinct supports the Forrest Research Foundation, which drives research and innovation capacity in Western Australia by awarding fellowships and scholarships to the best and brightest minds from around the world. FRF was established in 2014 following a donation from Andrew and Nicola Forrest, through the Minderoo Foundation.
Wonil Hotel is expected to open early next year, enabling a program of events and activities for FRF scholars and hotel guests, as well as students from across WA’s five universities and the wider community. Director of the Forrest Research Foundation Professor James Arvanitakis said the appointment of Accor and the announcement of the hotel name was an exciting development for the State.
“Accor will support the Forrest Research Foundation’s mission to build Western Australia as an international research destination,” Professor Arvanitakis said. “In addition to Wonil Hotel being an ideal accommodation location for visiting academics and others staying in Perth, guests will know the profits from their stay flow directly into FRF to fund more scholarships – something that will have long-lasting benefits to the research eco-system in WA.”
Professor Arvanitakis also said Accor was an ideal partner for FRF, as its ‘Hospitality of the Heart’ initiative, which seeks to combat the social and economic exclusion of society’s most disadvantaged members, aligned with the Forrest Research Foundation’s values and broader goals.
For two decades, the Accor Indigenous Programs have also played a key role in empowering Indigenous success within Australia’s hospitality industry through employment, career development, procurement and cultural experiences for guests, where Accor plays the role of enabler by finding genuine ways to share Indigenous culture through storytelling, food, performance and art.
Accor Pacific CEO, Sarah Derry, said: “We are delighted to partner with the University of Western Australia in this venture, which will provide financial support for the Forrest Research Foundation. We will give our guests an extraordinary experience, providing accommodation and dining options, while helping to sustain the important work of the FRF.”
“Handwritten Collection is a curated selection of hotels that exhibit charming and one-of-a-kind concepts; they are hotels sought out by travellers who appreciate heartwarming travel experiences and cherish the unique personality of a hotel. Wonil Hotel is the first Handwritten Collection hotel to open in Australia and is tailored to guests who wish to be located near the campus and surrounding areas, and value high standards in style, amenities and design.”