The day spa is underway, the ice rink has been approved and now hotel mogul Jerry Schwartz has unveiled his latest plans for the Fairmont Resort at Leura.
In a move that is bound to reignite controversy, Dr Schwartz wants to extend his 225 room hotel by another 60 rooms, building a luxurious new six storey wing, two storeys higher than the current hotel.
Dr Schwartz spent $24 million buying the Sublime Point Road hotel seven years ago, and estimates he has spent a further $24 million on improvements. It had been run down by a previous owner.
Since then he has reconfigured part of the popular hotel to include a five bedroom family wing after being frustrated at not being able to regularly book in at the weekends.
The planned new “$10 to $20 million wing” would make his hotel truly five star he told the Gazette, with larger more luxurious 34 square metre rooms, instead of the current 25 square metre room. There would also be extended public spaces in the lower levels of the proposed six storey wing.
“It’s close to reception and still gets a good view. It’s between the two wings [Jamison and Megalong] … it’s my wife’s idea,” Dr Schwartz said while showing the Gazette the map of the hotel where he has drawn in in pencil the proposed extension that he plans to show to his architect.
Dr Schwartz said he expects the plan will receive a “mixed reaction”.
“On the one hand it’s great for tourism, on the other hand there are always those against development for the park.
“Council are better, they are realising I am trying to help tourism in the area.”
The Leura resort attracted controversy when it was developed in the mid 1980’s. Special legislation was passed by the Wran government to overcome a series of court challenges by local conservationists so the resort could be built.
The Gazette reported 37 police officers were on hand, including members of the Police Tactical Response Group, at the official ground breaking ceremony on January 15, 1986, although in the end the expected anti-resort group stayed away.
That group had lobbied hard against the development, but the Labor State MP at the time, Bob Debus, said at the opening it was a development that would protect the environment and jobs and “an input of capital the Mountains desperately needed”.
Dr Schwartz owns another six hotels in Sydney worth close to $1 billion, that he has also redeveloped. He is building his first hotel – the Sofitel Darling Harbour, due for completion in September this year.