By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
The Blue Mountains was the destination of choice for the wife of visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday [March 25] when she made a surprise trip to the region.
After an endless cavalcade of police escort, Professor Cheng Hong and her entourage of Chinese media and advisors retreated to the glamourous Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath, where she was welcomed and presented with a hamper of local wines, gourmet jams, teas and honey.
The heritage hotel unveiled spectacular views over the Megalong Valley from the Wintergarden restaurant, matched by a palate of pasties and sweets.
With military precision yet a surprisingly relaxed pace, the delegation sampled the regional produce and sipped freshly brewed teas while taking in the views and history which has made the Hydro Majestic famous.
Taking time out from the trade-drive visit to Australia with her husband, Professor Cheng Hong then visited Echo Point Lookout overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation and lunched on grass-fed Australian Angus beef tenderloin at the nearby Echoes Boutique Hotel and Restaurant, which overlooks the lush valleys from where the meat was sourced.
Modest and reserved, preferring to keep a low profile, Professor Cheng Hong is more interested in tranquility and natural environment than politics, business or fashion.
An English professor specialising in naturalism in American literature, she has translated many books in the field including Wake-Robin, The Singing Wilderness, and The Outermost House.
In the abstract of her book Tranquility Is Beyond Price (2009), Professor Cheng Hong wrote that she developed her interest in American and British writing on nature and the environment when she was a visiting scholar at Brown University in the US.
The university website lists her as one of its “renowned scholars’’ and a member of the institute’s academic committee.
Escarpment Group director Huong Nguyen said while the visit was very tight lipped, it was not a surprise given that China and Australia were keen to extend tourism and cultural exchanges.
With more than 1 million Chinese visitors to Australia, tourism was an area of tremendous economic growth in terms of tourism and hospitality related employment, vocational training and education, she said.
“Professor Cheng Hong was mesmerised with the ever-changing views of the Blue Mountains escarpment and seemed happy to relax and enjoy a leisurely lunch featuring regional beef, wines, cheeses and chocolates.
“It was a great opportunity for the management team at the Hydro Majestic and Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant to highlight cultural diversity, language capacity and vocational education and training focus in the Blue Mountains.’’
The Escarpment Group team welcomed the visiting Chinese delegation to the Blue Mountains in Mandarin and gave Professor Cheng Hong a brief history of the Hydro Majestic, reflecting on its eccentric and entrepreneurial beginnings including a glimpse of early Chinese heritage and in the Blue Mountains.
Premier Keqiang, Professor Cheng Hong and their delegation’s visit to Australia marked the 45th anniversary of Australia-China diplomatic relations.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was “an opportunity to reflect on how much we have achieved and take steps to ensure our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership continues to strengthen into the future’’.
* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill
Seat-swapping, hand-crossing bravura, drama, passion and cheeky fun will return to the original Blue Mountains party palace as a string of musical events rolls out during the next few months.
The music program will see the return of popular opera and classical instrumental performances, reviving the traditions established by original Hydro Majestic Hotel owner, Mark Foy, in the early 20th century.
General manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Ralf Bruegger said: “The Hydro Majestic and Foy himself were famous for their revelry and decadence and we’ve reignited the celebration by filling the calendar with festivals, events and performances and an endless round of public and private parties.
“Guest are welcome to swap seats, cross hands and indulge in cheeky fun but please keep the passion and drama to yourselves.’’
Choose one or more from the following performances:
Le Grand Tango, June 11: Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra principal cellist Teije Hylkema and internationally-awarded pianist Grace Kim will present a program to ignite passion and fire featuring Le Grand Tango by Astor Piazzolla.
4 hands, 2 pianists, 1 piano, August 19: One of the busiest pianists in Australia, Kristian Chong, will team up with Grace Kim to present a brilliant program of seat swapping, hand crossing bravura. You will see why four hands are better than two.
2017 Blue Mountains Opera Festival, September 30 – October 1:
- High tea, Saturday: Mozart’s magnificent masterpiece, his Clarinet Quintet, will begin the weekend on a high note featuring Sydney Symphony Orchestra clarinettist Frank Celata with the Enigma Quartet.
- Opera Gala Dinner Concert, Saturday: After a glowing inaugural success last year, Opera Australia tenor Brad Cooper, mezzo/soprano Sally Wilson and bass Damian Whiteley will take guests on an evening of drama, passion and cheeky fun.
- High tea, Sunday: The festivities crescendo when eight of the finest string players perform with the ever popular Mendelssohn Octet.
Each high tea concert package ($85pp) includes a glass of sparkling wine on arrival with a sumptuous three-tier offering including an indulgent selection of gourmet sandwiches, warm fluffy scones, delicate pastries and the finest selection of handmade desserts served with Vittoria Coffee and La Maison Du The teas. The concert will be from 12pm to 1pm.
The Gala Dinner Concert package from 5.30pm to 9.30pm on Saturday, October 1, will include drinks and canapes on arrival followed by a two-course dinner with beverages. Cost: $150pp.
Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book concerts, accommodation and dining.
- Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media