Restoration of historic Portarlington Hotel set to revitalise Bellarine Peninsula Region – The Hotel Conversation


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The revitalisation of one of Victoria’s sleepy coastal towns is underway, with the completion of restorative works on the historic Portarlington Grand Hotel, set to restore the coastal town’s status as a landmark regional destination for locals and tourists alike.
The revitalisation of one of Victoria’s sleepy coastal towns is underway, with the completion of restorative works on the historic Portarlington Grand Hotel, set to restore the coastal town’s status as a landmark regional destination for locals and tourists alike.
Designed by Technē Architecture + Interior Design for the Little Group, the hospitality development draws inspiration from its distinct harbour-side location and proximity to the Portarlington Pier, as well as its grand history as a Portarlington’s oldest hotel. Originally built in 1888, the landmark resort was constructed to accommodate the flourishing tourism market arriving via the steamer service to indulge in the picturesque setting and sandy beaches.
Engaged for full services as lead consultants and project managers, the architecture and interior design scope of Technē’s work on Portarlington Grand Hotel stretches across the 1900sqm space and encapsulates the design of its new beer garden, as well as substantial heritage restorations of the building and internal refurbishments.

The completed Portarlington Grand Hotel is visible from the bay as a grand beacon on the hill, and we’re very proud of our work in redefining an important place in Portarlington’s history,” says Technē associate director, Sam Sempill.
“It reconnects locals and visitors with the building’s opulent past, and stays true to its character as a welcoming seaside venue that offers both the intimacy of a boutique hotel, and a personalised taste of the Bellarine Region’s tourist and wine offerings.”
Extensive research on the heritage of Portarlington Grand Hotel was undertaken by the design practice, lending to a comprehensive understanding of the building’s history and architectural detail of its original structure.
The new design pays homage to these learnings, with elements from phases of the Hotel’s colourful past intertwined and brought to life with a modern twist.
The historic façade and structure was retained, with Techne’s design refurbishing these cornerstone features back to former glory. This includes the refurbishment of the 1800s archways and cornices, wall filigree, etched glazing, and the main stair balustrading.
The completed project notably reinstates heritage façade elements that had been removed over time – reinstating the iconic cast iron verandah which originally adorned the upper levels of the Hotel.
“It was pertinent to us that the new design not only paid architectural homage to the original building, but also included contemporary elements that modernises the Hotel and amplifies the region’s character,” Sempill explains.
“We limited the demolition of the existing structure, preserved various heritage detailing, and ensured minor alterations were made to the internal walls to accommodate the new guest rooms.”
Set to renew itself as a popular beachside destination, Technē has reinforced this thematic with elements that harks back to the spirit of its locale. The essence of the old pier is transported to the Hotel, with the use of natural and reclaimed materials, like timber, anchoring both the indoor spaces and outdoor structures.
Various shades of blues, greens, and beige feature prominently and are used to convey the hues of the surrounding seaside town. While hand-trawled walls add a textural quality akin to the hard plaster walls trademark of the Hotel’s past life. The inclusion of soft, warm lighting further highlights the textural qualities and intricate colour scheme of the spaces.

To authentically recapture the Hotel’s former grandeur within its new contemporary context, Technē employed its signature use of layered colours and textures to invigorate the visual interest for each space. The outdoor cast iron design and Victorian detailing persists in the interiors of the 18-guest room accommodation, with selected furniture and carpets reflecting the patterns and motifs found within the decorative elements. These ornamental elements are balanced with rustic and contemporary components throughout the various hotel room spaces, layering touches of timeless elegance with materials that reference the bay-side vibrance.
The new adjoining beer garden features brightly coloured sun shading umbrellas, fabrics and tiling, lining boards that reference beach shacks, and an array of playful furniture that reflect the zest and vibrancy of a beachside holiday. Further accentuating the connection to the outdoors, large windows open the internal beer garden spaces and offers patrons views across the ocean and beyond.

“Our vision for Portarlington Grand Hotel provided the perfect opportunity to build a memorable visitor experience by bringing the ‘grand lady’ back to life as a destination venue, catering for the needs of visitors to the region and a growing resident population,” says Paul Little, chairman and founder of the Little Group.
“Techne’s proven experience in projects similar to ours made them the standout choice for the Portarlington Grand Hotel, and we are incredibly proud to see the outstanding results they have achieved,” he adds.
The Portarlington Grand Hotel sits on the main street across the pier where the Docklands-to-Portarlington Port Phillip Ferries docks. The completed project has transformed the Hotel to encompass a front bar, bistro, indoor and outdoor beer garden, private dining areas, the kitchen and back of house, and all aspects of its hotel accommodation, which are wholly underscored by Technē’s characteristic sensitivity and respect to a venue’s history.

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