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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1730

Mrs MARKUS (Macquarie) (21:25): I rise to reflect on the opening of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains. It was a delight to welcome the Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey, to the electorate of Macquarie to preside over the official opening of one of the region's most iconic venues on the 30 January this year.

Prior to the opening of this beautiful historical site, the Treasurer and I held an economic roundtable, giving the presidents of local associations and business chambers the opportunity to discuss local achievements and issues important to them. The Hydro Majestic is a powerful symbol of grandeur in the Blue Mountains, which has prevailed for many years.

The Hydro Majestic was founded in the 1890s and built as a hydropathic spa in 1904 by local retailer Mark Foy. By 1909 it was transformed into a hotel of glamourous and ambitious proportions. It is an iconic building that reflects a bygone classical era. The prominent dome featured in the casino room near the entrance of the hotel was originally sourced by Mr Foy from Chicago, and transported to the Blue Mountains by train.

Under the stewardship of Huong Nguyen and George Saad of the Escarpment Group, this unique landmark has undergone extensive renovation and restoration over the past six years. The Hydro Majestic we have today represents an investment of $35 million—and investment into the tourism and hospitality industry of the local region.

The transformation has not been without challenges over these six years. As with many dreams, visions become a reality as a result of many hours, days, months and, in this case, years of planning, toil and hard work. Huong and George have demonstrated a love for the Hydro's history, a passion for its future and a commitment and dedication to our region.

The Hydro has emerged again as an important symbol of the Blue Mountains enduring spirit, breathtaking ambience and rich history that will attract increasing numbers of tourists each year. This launch communicates a resurgence of economic stimulus in the mountains to the wider Australian community. The opening of a world-class facility such as the Hydro Majestic reminds tourists that the Blue Mountains is a World Heritage area, that it is one of Australia's most spectacular icons, and that we are open for business. Treasurer Joe Hockey presided over the official opening, speaking to a large audience assembled in the Wintergarden, with its panoramic views of the Megalong Valley.

The Treasurer spoke to local economic stakeholders, business owners, chambers of commerce, residents of the Blue Mountains, and some very special guests. Descendants of the original owners—Mr Mark and Mrs Francis Foy—were honoured at the event for representing the rich heritage presided over by their family. I wish to acknowledge the presence on the occasion of the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Human Services, who emceed the evening. Stuart Ayres, member for Penrith, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Western Sydney, also attended the event.

The Treasurer described the Hydro Majestic as a six-star facility, declaring that it will bring to the mountains six-star tourists who want to buy the best wines and sample the best food. 'They're going to leave their money here in the Blue Mountains and create lots of jobs,' the Treasurer said. The Hydro Majestic is the largest hospitality employer in the Blue Mountains, with over 100 employees.

The Treasurer also stated:

To put $30 million into a magnificent property like this, not only to preserve the uniquely Australian culture of the early twentieth century, but also to celebrate what was protected and enhanced by Indigenous Australians for 40,000 years—this is Australia's future, the opportunity to be the best in the world.

The Treasurer and I were guided through the Hydro Majestic's world-class facilities by George Saad, Huong Nguyen and General Manager Ralf Bruegger, touring the casino, Belgravia wing, ballroom, and the iconic Cat's Alley—not seen by the public for many years.

Owner Huong Nguyen, a dear friend to the Blue Mountains, said that the Hydro Majestic represents a private investment to preserve this treasured icon which inspires such nostalgia for the residents of the Blue Mountains. The risks of investing in such an ambitious project are enormous, and the transformation of the Hydro could not have come about without the dedication and sacrifice of local stakeholders. 'We have put an old icon back on the road map,' Huong said.

The SPEAKER: It being 9.30 the debate is interrupted, and the House stands adjourned until 12 pm tomorrow.

House adjourned at 21:30