Property Australia

Globetrotting around the world's great cities

PROPERTY AUSTRALIA December 17, 2019

They spend their days in the business of shaping cities, so we asked our industry’s leaders for the lowdown on their favourite city getaway. What sates their wanderlust and what can we learn from the world’s best cities?

Carolyn Viney, Vicinity Centres’ chief development officer, spends most of her life in big cities, so her holidays are an opportunity to get away from it all.

“One of the deciding factors on my destination is how many airports I need to go through to get there. While airports like Singapore’s Changi have changed the customer experience, I like to keep my time in airports to a minimum,” Viney says.

Despite this airport antipathy, Viney says her family are “doing something different” this year: a “wintery” Christmas in London.

“With a 12-year-old daughter, I can’t wait to share the majesty of London under full Christmas regalia. The iconic Christmas lights of Regent Street, Christian Louboutin’s glittering winter wonderland at the legendary Claridge’s, sharing afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason, ice skating in front of Kensington's Natural History Museum and did I mention the shopping?”

Kathy Mac Dermott, the Property Council’s chief operating officer, says London is a city for all seasons, but “especially on a long summer’s day”.

“I love the pace of the city, the beauty of its parks, historic buildings and its world leading architecture,” Mac Dermott says, adding that Australia’s city-shapers can all learn a lot from London’s “willingness to be bold and its resilience”.

London is a perfect case study for city builders because “it’s always reinventing itself,” says Darren Steinberg, chief executive officer of Dexus.

“This is a truly international city with great architecture that is both leading edge and preserves the past, a diverse restaurant scene, and excellent public transport links.”

Great public transport is a hallmark of another top pick for city getaway: New York City.

Virginia Briggs, MinterEllison’s managing partner for infrastructure, construction and property, was in the Big Apple earlier this year.

“Travelling with my 15-year-old daughter gave me the opportunity to see the city through her eyes,” Briggs says.

“She was fascinated by the public transport system and loved the subway, which we used to get around for our entire trip including to and from a Tobi Lou rap concert in Brooklyn (I was the oldest person in the room by far). An accessible city is a great city and the transport infrastructure in New York definitely ticks this box.”

Carmel Hourigan, AMP Capital’s global head of real estate, also had her wanderlust fed earlier this year with a trip to New York.

“I spent a week in NYC earlier this year with Liz Broderick and an Australian delegation to attend the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women. It was an inspiring and unforgettable time for me and cemented New York as one of my favourite destinations. It has an incredible vibe and an energy that is infectious.”

David Harrison, Charter Hall’s managing director and group CEO, also loves the city that never sleeps.

“New York City has managed to combine the evolution of architecture and workplaces to accommodate a large metropolis while retaining the vibrancy and excitement of a true global city,” Harrison says.

For a change of pace, the Property Council’s chief executive Ken Morrison will be visiting Cambodia over the break, but he suspects Phnom Penh doesn’t have much to teach Australian cities “unless motor bikes carrying four people apiece are the solution to our congestion woes?”.

“Perhaps there will be more answers in Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building? Peace, reflection, serenity – I’m sure all our city dwellers could do with some more of that,” Morrison laughs.

Stockland’s managing director Mark Steinert is a big fan of Boston for its “urbane charm, commitment to preserving history, philanthropy, great parks, open space, amazing public art and place making”.

Steinert applauds practical city-shaping projects too, especially the “airport tunnel and the transformation occurring as the above ground city loop is removed”.

Reini Otter, CEO of Frasers Property Industrial, has been spending a lot of time in Amsterdam this year. He admires the city’s mix of progressive planning policies that “respect the human scale” and understand “what it takes to create a great place to live”. He also likes Amsterdam’s adoption of technology and sustainability. “All combine to create a vibrant and inspiring modern city,” Otter says.

Scentre Group CEO Peter Allen looks across the Tasman for inspiration.

“This year I’ve visited Auckland many times, prepping for the opening of Westfield Newmarket which has been a significant development of ours for the past couple of years. The liveability of the City of Auckland is exceptional and New Zealand’s focus on exceptional food and dining and the quality of their lifestyle always makes for a memorable visit. It’s one of the reasons we designed a rooftop dining precinct at Newmarket, which is a first for Auckland.”

Principal of Buildcorp, Josephine Sukkar AM is enamoured with Paris.

“No matter how many times I return I never tire of it. It’s architecture, the innate style of its citizens and the fact that I am in a global city, which is unmistakably ‘Parisian’. You could not mistake it for any other city in the world,” Sukkar says.

“As we reimagine our cities for our future, it would be perfect to land in an Australian capital city and immediately recognise where we were by distinctive architecture that spoke to the environment and people it served.”

That, Sukkar says, is the biggest lesson we can learn from globetrotting during our downtime.