Accor to run Forrest Hall precinct hotel

Accor, a leading hotel operator in Australia, will operate Wonil Hotel which is set to open at the Forrest Hall Precinct in February 2023.

Wonil is the Wadjuk Noongar name for peppermint tree and the new hotel is located on the banks of the Swan River surrounded by peppermint trees, adjacent to The University of Western Australia.

Through a unique operating model, net revenue from the hotel will be reinvested back into the Forrest Research Foundation (FRF) which drives research and innovation capacity in Western Australia by awarding fellowships and scholarships to the best and brightest researchers from around the world.

Forrest Research Foundation scholars with Director of the Forrest Research Foundation Professor James Arvanitakis (third from left)Image: Forrest Research Foundation scholars with director Professor James Arvanitakis (third from left).

The FRF scholars and fellows, who carry out research on areas ranging from alternative energy sources, coastal erosion, DNA origami, Australia’s aged workforce, and medical breakthroughs, work across WA’s five universities with the aim of confronting some of the world’s biggest challenges. 

The hotel will offer 66 short-stay accommodation rooms primarily open to visitors to any of WA’s five universities and the Forrest Research Foundation, and a food and beverage outlet with panoramic views of the Swan River and UWA’s Crawley campus. Members of the public will also be welcome to stay. 

Dr Richard Walley OAM, lecturer and cultural adviser in UWA’s School of Indigenous Studies, consulted with a number of Elders who agreed the name was appropriate.

“The name Wonil links the hotel’s place and purpose together,” he said. “This is a significant site by the river that was known to the Noongar as a place of rest and the wonil has many uses in Noongar culture.

“It’s used in medicine but also as an abode for birds and other animals and a place of wisdom.”

The hotel completes the development of the Forrest Hall Precinct, which also includes 52 rooms for scholars and fellows, and office space for the Minderoo Foundation — one of Australasia’s largest philanthropies. The FRF was established in 2014 following a donation from Andrew and Nicola Forrest through the Minderoo Foundation.  

Director of the Forrest Research Foundation Professor James Arvanitakis said the appointment of Accor was an exciting development for the State.

“Accor will support the Forrest Research Foundation’s mission to build Western Australia as an international research destination and creative hub,” Professor Arvanitakis said.  

“In addition to being an ideal accommodation location for visiting academics and others staying in Perth, guests will know the profits from their stay flow directly into FRF to fund more scholarships – something that will have long-lasting benefits to the research eco-system in WA.”

Professor Arvanitakis also said Accor was an ideal partner for FRF, as its ‘Hospitality of the Heart’ initiative, which seeks to combat the social and economic exclusion of society’s most disadvantaged members, aligned with the Forrest Research Foundation’s values and broader goals

Accor Pacific CEO, Sarah Derry, said: “We are delighted to partner with the University of Western Australia in this venture, which will provide financial support for the Forrest Research Foundation. We will give our guests an extraordinary experience, providing accommodation and dining options, whilst helping to sustain the important work of the FRF. The property is tailored to guests who wish to be located near the campus and surrounding areas, and value high standards in style, amenities and design.”