Summer is right around the corner, and for Aussie restaurant, bar, café and hotel owners that means that more and more of your patrons will want to sit outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.

To give your customers a pleasant and satisfying experience, now is the time to get your outdoor area looking its best. Whether you operate a large restaurant, a small cafe, or a luxury hotel, you want to provide a relaxing environment that your guests will love. With a few tweaks to your al fresco area, it will offer a memorable experience that will have customers coming back again and again.

#1 Rule – Provide Ample Shade

It’s impossible to have a successful al fresco area in Australia without ample shade for patrons. And there are so many types of commercial shade umbrellas to choose from to suit the look you want to go for.


Centre pole umbrellas are great for dining areas as they can be stabilised in the centre of dining tables. Versions that tilt enable you to continuously block the sun as it moves across the sky throughout the day.


Rotating cantilever umbrellas work well for pool environments, as they allow guests to adjust them to accommodate the moving sun.



Wall mounted, and Cantilever umbrellas also work well for al fresco areas at the front of your property. As the pole is to the side of the umbrella, rather than the middle, you can place the pole at your front wall to shade the tables along the street without a pole getting in the way of diners or walkers on the path.


High-wind performance umbrellas are particularly useful in coastal areas where offshore winds can sometimes be quite strong – prevent your umbrellas from catching a draft and tipping over on top of your guests!

Create Al Fresco Booths

UltraShield Composite Woven Screen using 10mm Fascia Board.

While an open-plan outdoor dining area can work well, the same design rules apply to outdoor dining areas as to indoors. Open-plan seating gives a casual café vibe while breaking up the area with booths allows for a more intimate ‘grab a booth and settle in for the day’ scene – exactly what you want to keep the drink orders flowing throughout the day.

Particularly for bigger groups and functions, people love having private alcoves where they feel they can have their own little al fresco area for their group. A simple way to create this is with timber screening panels – giving a rustic or modern look depending on the timber style you choose. They’re also easily moveable, so you can easily switch up the partitions’ shape should you find your design isn’t working well or blocking wait-staff from moving around the floor quickly.

Alfresco using UltraShield decorative screening in Walnut.

You can also use screens to block off server areas from the view of guests, giving a more professional look.

Composite timber screens are a better choice than traditional wood as they require no maintenance – they’re rot-proof and UV resistant, so all they need is a quick wipe-down every now and then to keep them looking clean. High-quality composites look just as good as the real thing, too, mimicking the look and feel of real wood right down to the appearance of the grain, so you’ll still get that rustic look you’re after.

For your hotel pool, you can use composite screens to create private cabanas by the pool that your guests can rent for the day, allowing them to relax in privacy. You can also use screens to separate family areas from adults-only areas for guests without children.

Upgrade Your Poolside Decking

Deck intro image

There’s no better place for your hotel’s guests to enjoy the warm weather than lounging by the pool. However, that experience can quickly be ruined by splinters underfoot or uneven deck slats that result in stubbed toes. Now is the time to check your timber decking to ensure it’s safe for another season, and if it requires maintenance, you might be better off switching to composite decking*.

Over time, timber can become damaged in wet environments, leading it to rot from the inside out. In addition, wood can bend or warp as changes in the weather cause it to contract and expand. Regular exposure to the sun can also cause wood to crack and splinter, causing a safety hazard for your guests – not to mention the looming possibility of a liability lawsuit for you! With composite materials, you can avoid these problems, keep your deck looking great for many years to come, and provide your guests with a safe environment – all with little or no maintenance.


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