Blue Mountains still a strong lure for Sydneysiders: John McGrath

Mark Foy’s “Palace in the wilderness” at Medlow Bath is a true icon that has helped lure Sydneysiders in search of a tree change, according to respected real estate agent John McGrath.

The founder of McGrath Estate Agents gave a glowing appraisal of the Hydro Majestic Hotel during his company conference attended by more than 100 real estate agents on Tuesday, September 12.

The $30 million refurbishment unveiled in October 2014 by current owner Escarpment Group was a worthwhile investment which only added value to its status and the Blue Mountains as a sought-after destination for visitors and residents.

“Nowadays you’ve got to be competitive in a tough [real estate] environment: you’ve got to be able to wow people,” Mr McGrath said. “You walk in here and the experience is pretty amazing.”

The success of hotels like the Hydro Majestic were also of benefit to the growth and economic viability of the whole Blue Mountains community, Mr McGrath said.

Grand hotels synonymous with the Blue Mountains were an enticement for potential residents and provided an introduction to the lifestyle of the area.

“Seventy-two per cent of our [Blue Mountains] buyers are coming from Sydney, and you’d have to envisage that at least some of those would have come up here at first for a short stay or a weekend and fell in love with the area.”

As well as larger blocks, real estate in the Blue Mountains was also much cheaper than Sydney and, with the recently completed Great Western Highway upgrade and limited stop train line, more accessible than ever for commuters, many of whom could now take advantage of new technology and work from home full or part-time.

While the Blue Mountains had also experienced enormous growth in property prices, “the average price here is six hundred thousand and it’s over double that for Sydney real estate generally”.

“Clearly it’s a great lifestyle and, nowadays, you can enjoy this great lifestyle and not have to commute every day.”

Given its close proximity to Sydney, the Blue Mountains (along with Bowral and the South Coast) was also an appealing relocation destination for baby boomers seeking a slower pace rather than full retirement, Mr McGrath said.

However, the Blue Mountains now had just as rich a cultural scene as the city, with an array of dining options, music venues, art galleries and attractions as well as the natural World Heritage Area itself.