City Shapers Interview / The Lounge
Gregg Currie, Head of Hospitality, The Lounge, UNSW
Seamlessly blending work and play, The Lounge is an integrated hospitality dining and meeting space for exclusive use by the 6,800 staff, alumni and their guests on the University of New South Wales Randwick campus. Open from breakfast through to dinner, The Lounge differentiates itself from other on campus dining options. It feels more like a social club, weaving together meeting, working and dining spaces in a high touch indoor/outdoor setting that looks out from the building's 11th floor, offering 360-degree views over Sydney.
We caught up with the Head of Hospitality, Gregg Currie, responsible for the vision and delivery of The Lounge’s success, and asked him what makes The Lounge unique.
What is the purpose of The Lounge?
I would say the strongest drivers for The Lounge are around community and retention. We have a mandate to build a community within the University, and so far, we are seeing really good results. We are creating the spaces with service for staff, alumni and guests to come together and engage over a coffee, meal or drink.
In previous years, staff have shared the same facilities as the students; being immersed in student’s lives was seen as a good thing. The Lounge provides a space for staff to unwind and focus on themselves up on the 11th floor, which has incredible views and is away from the activity on campus. Staff are appreciating the space and vision investment in their wellbeing, and they are openly embracing it.
What elements of the design do you think work really well?
The Lounge is a new concept for UNSW. Often people discover it when they are invited to meetings. They are always really surprised by the high quality of the food, the offering and the full service they experience. It is such a pleasure to hear the ‘wows’ as people see it for the first time, and it is very rewarding and makes the team proud to work here.
The spaces are so flexible that we are able to accommodate a number of different functions, from meetings to celebrations, formal and casual dining as well as nightly social drinks after work. The layout of The Lounge enables us to offer multiple options from semi-private and private meeting, social and dining spaces with seamless technology for meetings. The semi-private spaces have surprised us the most. They are extremely popular. It is easy to screen off these smaller spaces or open them up, and the private dining room is very popular. The materials used and the palette has proved to compliment the space. We can change the mood of the room with speed and ease!
What has surprised you the most about this new format?
It’s very different to the predictable corporate hospitality format, like a flight lounge or a high-end restaurant. The Lounge is clearly designed with the user in mind, and that creates the next level experience for everyone
Also, the social aspect has surprised us. Night time guests’ numbers are improving every day as people are beginning to meet their friends and family here on campus and come to The Lounge and its mostly through word of mouth. People have realized we offer something different, surprising and unique and are coming up to the 11th floor as an escape, offering stunning sunset views, beautiful ambiance, great food and leading service.
What would you do differently next time?
Make it bigger!