Alive and buzzing, Melbourne presents visitors with only one problem: an overwhelming reluctance to go back home. Hailed as the World's Most Livable City by The Economist, Melbourne captivates both visitors who come to work and those who come to play. With 7.5 million domestic visitors and 1.9 million international visitors per year, Melbourne is clearly a popular and gracious host. The city has hosted numerous international events including the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2006 G20 Summit.
Melbourne's main conference facility, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, is located in the heart the city on the banks of the River Yarra, close to the city's 23,000 hotel rooms and well connected to public transportation. The new AU$1.4 billion international convention center, the existing facilities, including two state-of-the art theaters and over 320,000 square feet of floor space, are fully integrated with the new centre to create the best conference facilities in the country. Additionally, the centre will utilize a range of features to achieve a 6 Green Star environmental rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. Planners can expect not only the best, but also the most sensible Australian venue when planning a meeting or event in Melbourne.
The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre finds its home within walking distance of over 17,000 hotel rooms, though this number is set to grow as more and more hotels develop across the city. Recently opened are the 658-room Citadines Melbourne and the 396-room Hilton Melbourne South Wharf; the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, the Grand Hyatt and the Hilton on the Park have recently undergone renovations.
Looking for a really special venue? Melbourne is home to over 40 museums, performing arts facilities and other unique venues available for private functions including the beautiful and historic UNESCO World Heritage Royal Exhibition Building. Drawing inspiration from Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance styles, the Royal Exhibition Building astounds guests with its grand architecture and depth of history.
As Australia's garden state, Melbourne has many outdoor venues as well. Guests will be delighted as they wander the lawns and ornamental fountains of Fitzroy Gardens or the Royal Botanical Gardens. For a venue central to both the physical and spiritual heart of the city, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is pivotal to Melbourne's claim of "World's Ultimate Sports City." With spectacular views of the skyline and elegant event rooms for up to 500 guests, what better way to capture guests' imaginations than a function on such revered and hallowed ground?
Melbourne is constantly updating and revitalizing what it has to offer. Recent major infrastructure projects include the redevelopment of Southern Cross Station, which services Sydney and Adelaide through connections at the city's main train station at Flinders Street, and the AU$434 million upgrade of the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The ground now features 10 new function spaces, striking views of the city, state-of-the-art audio-visual services and on-site catering by Epicure. Another sports venue, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, which hosts soccer, rugby league and rugby union matches, can seat over 31,000 people.
Another major development is taking place at the Docklands precinct. Encompassing nearly 500 acres, including the Waterfront City, are undergoing an AU$12 billion growth and improvement. Home to state-of-the-art marinas, gourmet restaurants, glitzy bars and a trail of eccentric urban art galleries, the Docklands are Melbourne's largest urban redevelopment project.
Melbourne is an important business, finance and manufacturing center and is also home to Australia's busiest seaport, which handles more than $75 billion in trade every year. Much of Australia's automotive industry is located in Melbourne including Ford, Toyota and Holden, and the headquarters of some of the biggest banks and largest corporations are located in the city including NAB, ANZ, BHP, Rio Tinto and Telstra. Melbourne also has eight universities including the largest in the country, Monash University, which attracts thousands of international students every year.