by Matt Alderton | August 08, 2018
California has Napa and Sonoma. France has Bordeaux and Burgundy. Spain has La Rioja. And Australia? It has the Yarra Valley in the state of Victoria, which is known for its exceptional chardonnay and pinot noir.

Like the world's other great wine regions, incentive groups flock to the Yarra Valley -- about an hour from Melbourne -- in order to taste its literal and figurative fruits. But they traditionally have not had anywhere to stay locally. That's about to change, however, thanks to InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), which today announced plans to open a new Voco hotel in the Yarra Valley in 2021.

IHG launched Voco -- inspired by the Latin word for "to invite" or "to come together" -- in June. Like Marriott's Autograph Collection and Hilton's Curio Collection, Voco hotels will be luxury hotels that retain an independent character while also leveraging the systems and resources of a global hotelier.

"The Voco brand promises guests an experience that is reliably different, brought to life through a bold, distinctive identity, informal service style and thoughtful touches along the guest journey," IHG explained when it launched the Voco brand.

Voco already has signed its first Australian property: the Watermark Hotel & Spa Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise, which is scheduled to open later this year with 388 guest rooms and over 8,000 square feet of meeting space. Voco Yarra Valley will therefore be Australia's second Voco and the Yarra Valley's first globally-branded upscale hotel.

Located off Maroondah Highway at the gateway to the Yarra Valley, near the Melbourne suburb of Lilydale, Voco Yarra Valley will offer 170 guest rooms, 20 cabins, and "large conference and meeting facilities," although exact sizes and configurations have not yet been announced. The property also will boast unique amenities and architecture. The latter will be evident to those passing on the highway, who will see a six-story structure that tapers to one story at the opposite end. The former, meanwhile, will include an onsite gin distillery, a lavender farm, a mirrored maze, an amphitheater cut from natural ground, and a provedore that serves and sells local Yarra Valley produce.

"IHG launched Voco in June with the first signing for the brand in Australia, and we are so pleased to see the brand momentum continue here with the second signing," said Abhijay Sandilya, IHG's senior director of development for Australasia. "Voco delivers a guest experience that stands out, with touches of charm and memorable, distinctive and dependable hallmarks."

Added entrepreneur Martyn Barnes, managing director of Barnes Capital, the hotel's developer, "As one of Australia's premier wine regions, the last thing people want when they arrive in Yarra Valley is a vanilla experience. That's why Voco is the perfect fit, giving business and leisure guests a great, globally-branded, upscale hotel that guests can depend on, but that's different enough to be fun. I'm excited to work with IHG to open Voco Yarra Valley."