Located in Woody Point, a half hour’s drive from the Brisbane CBD, The Belvedere has just completed a large-scale renovation, allowing more guests to enjoy the already sizeable venue.
The main reason for the renovation was that The Belvedere simply needed more space to accommodate the volume of its guests, explained Chris Allison, Lewis Land Group’s Queensland regional leisure manager.
“It was in physical need of renovation but also, which we’re very grateful for and humbled by, we just needed more seats. It was simple. We were packing out every week and we certainly have a motto to make it bigger and make it better,” he said.
The Belvedere fully reopened on 23 October, and the updated spaces are already drawing in crowds.
“The outdoor area, referring to the pavilion, comprised about 65 per cent of our revenue prior to renovation and now, we’re only a month into trading but it’s sitting at about 40 per cent, 35 per cent. Upstairs is almost identical, so really 75 to 80 per cent of the revenue is coming from that upstairs bar and that outdoor bar,” Allison said.
Not everything is new and modern, however. The Belvedere first began operating as a pub in 1901, and the venue includes some heritage-noted boarding houses. These heritage aspects have been retained in the final renovation.
“We just felt it was really important, especially given that we were doing something reasonably contemporary, that we had that nod to the old surrounded by the new. We felt that was that that was emotionally important, that people were able to identify it as the traditional Belvedere but obviously see that it’s had some pretty drastic modernised changes as well,” said Allison.
Interestingly, the Belvedere does not have private function spaces, with guests able to access the entire venue at all times.
“We have our different areas in the hotel, like public bars and gaming, but we made a deliberate, conscious decision to open up the entire venue with the same offer, effectively. We have a private dining room, a 20-seater, which is, as the name suggests, available through private arrangement. But for the rest of the hotel, we deliberately didn’t build a big function space because we wanted it to be entirely à la carte, to make sure that we can cater to the huge number of walk-ins. We wanted every part of the hotel to be available to anyone. We don’t like a situation where upstairs is closed off for an event and you can’t go there,” Allison explained.
This has already proven popular, with guests moving through different areas of the venue in the same visit.
“We’re seeing people bar hop all the time now which is a really great thing for us, given that we were in construction for so long. It’s good to see people enjoying a drink upstairs and then enjoying a drink on the far deck or in the public bar or in the sunset room and working their way around the hotel.”.
Even though there are no private function rooms, large groups are continuing to visit the Belvedere.
“The Belvedere’s success has been based on having groups of medium to large size come in, so [we have] a large space with occasionally divisible areas within it. A group of 10 or 12 can fit into a booth, or 20 that can sit across two long tables,” said Allison.
Though much of the Belvedere’s offering remains the same, there have been some tweaks to the menu.
“We decided to specialise in in lobster so we do a lobster pie, we do a lobster prawn spaghetti, and we do a lobster pizza which are all absolutely beautiful. We changed our beef supplier and we’re very confident in the Kilcoy meat that we’re using now as well. It’s really just doing what we already did, but we’re doing it better and making sure that we can deliver that to an even larger customer base,” Allison said.
Cocktails and large serves – such as jugs, carafes – have remained important for the customer base, with Allison estimating that one in four drinks purchased on a weekend is a cocktail, increasing to one in three if you also include large-serve drinks.
“Cocktails and people’s expectations of their experience when they come to the venue now are much more elevated than they used to be. They’re looking for something pretty and high quality to drink, and they may have less of them, but they’ll spend the same amount on items that are better,” he said.
These styles of drinks, as well as share-style food, are particularly appealing to large groups visiting the Belvedere.
“They’re our bread and butter and those people are generally the ones who will engage in a share activities like cocktail balloons, beer towers, wine carafes, party serves, party service, seafood platters, all those sorts of things,” Allison explained.
Ultimately, Allison is confident that the increased capacity will continue to benefit the community, and raise the revenue of the venue.
“The ability to have a big venue with 1100 to 1200 seats and a big car park that a large family group can ride up to with confidence that they’ll be able to find a space, that is a pretty powerful offer,” he concluded.