WORDS CARA JENKIN | SA WEEKEND
There’s nothing quite like the sound of a rattle gun doing a pit stop practice in the morning. This is the wake-up call for motorsport fans who stay directly above pit lane at The Bend Motorsport Park at Rydges Pit Lane Hotel. That’s if they, unlike myself, haven’t woken up at the crack of dawn because of the excitement of being right in the heart of the action at a Supercars weekend. I don’t camp, and Tailem Bend is a very long commute from my house, so I booked my balcony room very early to avoid disappointment when the Supercars came to town in August.
There are many other race tracks in Australia at which fans can camp within the circuit grounds, or stay in hotels, apartments or houses that are alongside or within the circuit, but none where fans can stay directly on top of the action. So the balcony is the first thing probably every guest gravitated towards when walking into their track-facing room for the first time. The views are sweeping. Almost every corner of the 4.95km track used for Supercars is visible from the balcony, which also provides a very good bird’s-eye view of the pits, pit lane and pit straight. When cars are on the track, it’s very hard to tear yourself away from it. But if it had been inclement weather, it’s very comfortable inside.
The room was smaller than the average hotel room but roomy enough for a kingsize bed, side tables, small desk and chair. There was plenty of wardrobe space for three days’ worth of motorsport team attire. The 49-inch wall-mounted TV opposite the bed did not have many working channels, nor did it have pay-TV, but during the day it did show the live telecast from all the on-track action, including a live timing channel for enthusiasts who crave greater detail. Being a brand new hotel, all the facilities were clean and barely used – even the packaging ties were still on the cord of the kettle and hairdryer in my room – and the decor is modern, the same that is found at any Rydges hotel I’ve stayed at in Australia.
The mornings typically are spent on the balcony sipping a coffee, overlooking a Supercar team or two practising their pit stops, until the action gets underway between 8am and 9am, when the race cars would stream along the track past us at 200km/h. A buffet breakfast with cooked and continental options at the Fuel Restaurant definitely filled guests up for the day, with floor to ceiling windows providing a view of the activity on track or, for me, the early bird, a just-as-spectacular look at the day’s sunrise. Guests can come and go from the hotel as they please, ensuring they can take in the activity of the pit paddock or walk around the track to another vantage point. At the end of the day the Apex Bar was a popular spot for guests to congregate and discuss the day’s racing, alongside famous race cars and other notable vehicles on display in the hotel foyer. Another buffet feast was available in the Fuel Restaurant for dinner, or guests could drive to Tailem Bend if they wanted other dining options. The demand for accommodation on site meant I paid a premium, had to book a minimum number of nights, and also had a few restrictions on food and beverages that would not necessarily occur on other days during the year. Coming a close second to the V8 experience was the friendliness of all the hotel staff. I’ve never stayed at a hotel where everyone was so warm and friendly.
THE EXPERIENCE A rev head’s dream come true – a brand new hotel on the race track
RYDGES PIT LANE HOTEL 543 Dukes Highway, Tailem Bend 8165 5730, rydges.com/accommodation/adelaide-sa/rydges-pit-lane-hotel
LOCATION 104km southeast of Adelaide CBD.
ACCOMMODATION 100 studio rooms with twin or king bed configurations, facing either the track or pit paddock.
FACILITIES On-site restaurant and bar, gym, business and conference centre. Free wi-fi. Rooms have double-glazed windows, Rydges dream beds, individually controlled airconditioning, 49-inch televisions, and safes. Free on-site parking, and shuttle transfers from Adelaide are available. A helipad is located on the grounds for guests arriving by helicopter. High chairs, cots and rollaway beds are available for families staying with young children.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS Yes.
PRICES Start at $189 a night for a paddock view room and $229 a night for a track view room, during non-event periods
Review was unannounced and paid for by the reviewer
Original Article: SAWEEKEND October 20-21