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A new look for the Brassey

Laura Peppas

When Veronica and James Molloy had their wedding reception at the Brassey Hotel in 2005, it was a meticulously planned event with a vintage flair befitting the historic location.

Unfortunately, the bride couldn’t enjoy it half as much as she hoped; instead spending most of the night curled up in bed with a stomach virus.

“I woke up that day feeling sick, and by the time we were doing photos outside the church I felt like I could barely move and was vomiting,” Veronica says.

“During the photos I had to go back to the Brassey to lay down – the staff were really great and brought me vegemite on toast – then I got some medication and was able to get through the first dance, but I had to go to bed straight after that.

Veronica and James on their wedding day.

“I felt a bit ripped off – everyone wants their wedding to be their ‘princess’ day. Frustratingly, I felt better the next day.”

There’s a silver lining to this story, at least. The couple will soon get to renew their vows at the very same location as their wedding reception, after winning a competition run by Doma Group – allowing Veronica a second chance to enjoy the day, this time hopefully in good health.

The prize includes a vow renewal ceremony in the Brassey’s beautiful new wedding garden, followed by an hour-long cocktail party for 40 people and accommodation at Hotel Realm for the bride and groom.

“After having three kids, this means we can include them in the day so we are very excited,” says Veronica.

“The Brassey was such a beautiful location, we loved that it had so much history and we can’t wait to renew our vows there.”

The Brassey’s new courtyard.

The couple’s vow renewal will take place in a very different looking hotel, after the Brassey’s $6 million upgrade.

With a brand new outdoor wedding ceremony garden, outdoor gym, luxurious day spa and restored gardens which span two and a half acres, the heritage-listed Brassey’s makeover also includes the refurbishment of 75 rooms, with new carpets, window furnishings, bed mattresses and bathroom fixtures as part of the first string of upgrades, which began shortly after the Doma Group acquired the hotel in mid-2015.

The North and South Wing – which previously housed the Brassey Hotel kitchen and dining room – are now a five-star wellness centre, Hale Gym+Spa, which provides a full complement of day spa treatments along with a cave-like spa pool, steam rooms and infrared saunas. The Scandi-style lounge has a large open fireplace with views onto a landscaped courtyard and water feature.

Doma Hotels wedding coordinator Beth Johnson says the new additions really set the Brassey Hotel apart and will help draw visitors to the nation’s capital.

“The entire facelift has respected the hotel’s historical significance and character,” Beth says.

“The Brassey Hotel holds many memories for Canberrans. Most locals can remember a wedding or event they attended on its historic grounds. Doma have paid careful attention to respect the significant heritage value of the Brassey in the refurbishment and design of the interiors.

“The result is a timelessly elegant feel reflected in all aspects of the property, from the lamps and chandelier to the wallpapers and furnishings, through to the colour palette and use of natural stone and dramatic black textures.”

Set within the Realm Precinct, the Brassey is just a stone’s throw from Hotel Realm, Burbury Hotel, Little National and the precinct’s many restaurants and beauty destinations, making it a convenient option for brides and grooms.

“Couples can have their wedding ceremony in the Brassey Gardens, post-ceremony drinks at Ostani/Buvette or in the chess garden then head into the Hotel Realm for the reception,” Beth says.

“Wedding guests can stay at any of our hotels with onsite parking and a variety of dining and wellness options. Brides and grooms can also have our team assist them from when they get engaged. Doma can host their engagement party in Ostani or Buvette, hens party and/or bridal shower at high tea on the Burbury Terrace or brunch in Buvette, we can take care of their skin and wellbeing in Hale Spa with a pre-wedding skin fitness package and through the 12-Week Hale Method so they look their best on their special day, our wedding coordinator will work with the couple to plan their ceremony and reception, all hotel guests will have access to preferential accommodation rates across all our properties.”

Originally the Telopea Park Hostel, the Brassey Hotel was opened in 1927 and designed by renowned Sydney-based architectural firm Budden & Hood, who also crafted the iconic Elizabeth Street David Jones store in the Sydney CBD.

Primarily housing members of Parliament and Government officials, the building provided full board for 60 people in 36 single rooms and 12 double rooms. In 1935 it was leased to the private sector and returned to Commonwealth management in 1959.

Beth says revitalising the Brassey Hotel has been a labour of love for Doma.

“It allowed us to retain and restore an integral part of the city’s proud history, while developing an asset that will move Canberra forward into an exciting future,” she says.

“We believe it is important to respect heritage buildings like the Brassey, which show, as a relatively young city, where we come from and how we have developed in the region.”

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author