Hydro Majestic Hotel
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|Hydro Majestic Hotel|
Hydro Majestic Hotel Casino dome in 2007
|Location||52 – 88 Great Western Highway Medlow Bath, New South Wales, Australia|
|Opening||1891 (Belgravia Hotel)
1904 (Hydro Majestic)
The Australian retailer Mark Foy purchased the site in 1902 for the purposes of a hydropathic sanatorium under the belief that the land contained mineral springs. At that stage the town was known as "Medlow" and Mark Foy successfully petitioned the New South Wales government to change the name to Medlow Bath, the current name. It is not known if he requested the name change to make it sound more prestigious, or if he wanted to avoid confusion with another town called Medlow, also in New South Wales.
By the time the hotel opened in 1904, the mineral springs (if they ever existed) had dried up. Mark Foy had mineral water imported from Germany in large steel containers. After travelling in these containers from Germany to Australia the water reportedly tasted awful, and so it was assumed that it must have been good for a person's health. Guests of the hotel were instructed to drink this water on a regular basis.
In October 1913, it was reported that Foy had sold the property to businessman and NSW parliamentarian James Joynton Smith for a reputed £60,600.
Fire destroyed the gallery building in 1905, and the original Belgravia wing in 1922. Being surrounded by the Blue Mountains National Park, bushfires have regularly threatened the hotel. Bushfires were extremely close to the hotel again on 8 December 2002.
Heritage listing and restoration
The hotel received heritage listing in 1984. After many decades of decline and neglect the Hydro Majestic underwent a series of refurbishments during the 1990s. The Accor hotel group became associated with the hotel from about 2002 until 2006 and then a smaller Malaysian based group took over the running of the hotel, borrowing the name "Hydro Majestic" to brand their other hotels in Asia. In 2008 the hotel was closed for refurbishment, with the new owners to restore the hotel and add new facilities.
Development in 2012–2014
The owners of the hotel have announced the start of the redevelopment of the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Stage one is due for completion in June 2014. Stage One includes the majority of the historic areas from the Casino to the southern end of the site and new construction, re-planting and beautification of the gardens including the avenue of Pines and the renovation of the Hotel façade, which has a 1.1 km frontage to the Megalong Valley escarpment. In the renovated Hotel, the historic Casino building will become the Casino Lobby, a grand lobby entry and function room. A renovated area behind the Casino Lobby will become a five star restaurant called The Wintergarden. The other historic buildings, The Billiard Room, The Cat's Alley, The Majestic Ballroom in Hargraves House, and the Delmonte conference rooms will also be renovated in this stage.
Fitting with the renewal of The Hydro Majestic, a new Lobby (between the historic Delmonte and Hargraves House buildings) will be created that will provide dining, conference, wedding and event functions. The only major new building in Stage One, The Mark Foy Pavilion, named for the original developer of the Hydro Majestic, will be created and serve as a Providores and History Centre, providing a Regional Tasting centre and interactive history environment, screenings + tour base. The Providores "The Taste of The Blue Mountains" will be a Regional tasting centre celebrating the foods, wines and produce of the Blue Mountains Districts.
The historic Boiler House, which has been closed to the public for many decades, will be renovated and house the new Megalong Terrace Restaurant, Gallery and retail. It will also be the gateway to the new Majestic Point Lookout picnic and market grounds, giving the best public access to views of the Megalong Valley.
A new public entry, roundabout and parking area at the Katoomba end of the site will be the gateway to this new public environment at the Hydro Majestic.
The refurbishment scheme will see the hotel’s facilities, interiors and gardens – which now stretch more than a kilometre across the escarpment – revitalised.
A new hospitality training school, The Hotel Management Institute in association with NSW TAFE will operate from the Belgravia Wing on the hotel grounds, and is also expected to be operating by 2013.
Development in Stage Two
Stage Two of the development, planned to commence around two years after the completion of Stage One will construct the new accommodation wings and a large spa complex. Refurbishment of the historic Belgravia Lounge into an exclusive Hotel Guest Lounge and Bar will be the final grand old building to be renovated. The reconstruction of the Belgravia Wing and addition of the new Mark Foy Wing will add luxury suites (with views) to the Hydro Majestic Hotel.
After stage two the Hydro Majestic Hotel will have one of the largest spa complexes in the southern hemisphere – including 700sqm mineral spa and pool areas with a signature hydrotherapy menu. There will also be eight treatment rooms positioned over a 4-storey glass atrium overlooking the Megalong Valley. The second stage will also include renovation of the heritage rooms in the existing Delmonte and Hargravia buildings. The Cat's Alley will be extended with a new restaurant to be known as the Flying Fox fine dining restaurant.
One of the most imposing buildings of the hotel is the casino building. "Casino" in this usage means meeting hall or pavilion, and it was never officially used for gambling. The casino building is an ornate late Victorian italianate wedding-cake structure which serves as the grand ballroom of the current establishment. It was shipped from Chicago in the early 1900s and assembled by 1903.
The casino was the venue of the first performance of Dame Nellie Melba's famously-long farewell tour in 1928. Dame Clara Butt also performed in the venue. The last performance in the room was a small production of The Mikado in 1969.
The casino will re-open as the main guest entry to the hotel complex with Lounge and Function Space, Pre-function to Wintergarden and linked to the new Passage bar.
There are three main guest wings in the hotel: Belgravia, Hargravia and Delmonte.
The Belgravia wing was initially the former Belgravia Hotel. After being destroyed by fire, construction started on the new Belgravia wing in 1922 and completed in 1936.
The Hargravia wing is named after "Hargraves House", initially on the site of the hotel. Hargraves House was built by William Hargraves, son of Edward Hargraves, the alleged discoverer of gold in Australia.
There are three suites in the hotel: the Majestic Room, the Grand Majestic Suite and the Valley Suite.
The part of the hotel that currently houses the fitness centre was formerly the rooms for single young men. They were known as "the stables", apparently because of the stable-type doors on the rooms. Every morning a bell would ring before dawn so that young couples could get back to rooms so as not to get caught fraternising with the opposite sex.
The new hotel guest accommodation will open in stage two, two years after stage one, and will include two new accommodation wings: the Belgravia wing and the Mark Foy wing. There will also be eight treatment[clarification needed] rooms positioned over a 4-storey glass atrium overlooking the Megalong Valley.
As well as Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Clara Butt, other famous guests of the hotel have included: munitions heiress Bertha Krupp, who donated a Bechstein grand piano to the hotel; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, for whom the Blue Mountains were the inspiration for The Lost World; and more recently, Russell Crowe who was asked to remove his baseball cap while dining in the Great Dining Hall in 1994.
Boxer Tommy Burns set up a training camp at the Hydro Majestic ahead of his world title fight against Jack Johnson in Sydney in 1908, running for miles on mountain tracks in preparation.
Australia's former first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton – he had retired from politics and was then a justice of the High Court – died of a heart attack at the hotel while holidaying there in 1920.
- "Majestic tourist icon survives ordeal by fire". smh.com.au. 2002-12-09. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
- Desiatnik, Shane. "Hydro Majestic back on track for 2013 opening". Blue Mountains Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
- Official website
- "Glimpses of a convict past". Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 2006
- "Grand plan of (Hydro) Majestic proportions". Daily Telegraph, 8 December 2012