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Blue Mountains: Majestic entertainment line-up at Hydro

 

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group         Main photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Australia’s first tourist destination – the Blue Mountains – has wooed and wowed with luxurious romantic hideaways, fine food and sophisticated nightlife for more than a century.

Hundreds of the Sydney well-heeled poured off the steam trains and motorcades into the upmarket guesthouses and grand hotels to “take the air’’ on exhilarating bushwalks through untamed wilderness, indulge in spa treatments and embark on automotive adventures to charming picnic spots and thrilling cave systems.

At night they retreated into the opulence of sumptuous restaurants and lounges filled with exotic furnishings and artwork from around the world to indulge in cigars, cocktails, gossip and mischief.

The smoke has now cleared but the essence of that halcyon era remains in the dining rooms, ballrooms and discretely lit nooks under ornately decorated vaulted ceilings and domes of heritage establishments around the upper Blue Mountains.

The grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels (the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath), which once hosted legendary costume parties and opera performances by the world-class likes of Dame Nellie Melba, is again gearing up for a vibrant spring entertainment line-up accompanied by a host of seasonal food offerings.

First to command the iconic venue under the Live@theHydro banner will be Havana Nights, an evening of authentic Cuban music and seductive Saturday, September 29. Musical globetrotters can journey to Havana as they sway to the soulful sounds of Cuba, dance the salsa, rumba, mambo and cha cha cha and sip on rum mojitos and daiquiris in the Majestic Ballroom.

Then, on Saturday, November 3, the original Blue Mountains party palace will be taken over by retro grooves when The Australian Bee Gees Show – A Tribute to the Bee Gees performs the greatest hits of the adored `70s sibling trio. Straight from Vegas, the covers band featuring lookalike Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb will rock the Blue Mountains escarpment when it recreates hits like Staying Alive, You Should Be Dancing, How Deep Is Your Love, and Jive Talkin’.

Guest services manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Meagan Iervasi said: “Combined with fortnightly live music gigs in our Boiler House Café space, fine dining and opulent architecture and décor, the Hydro Majestic is fast becoming THE place to be for anyone looking for sophisticated weekend nightlife at reasonable prices in a seriously upmarket venue.’’

Tickets for both shows: $40pp entertainment only includes complimentary welcome cocktail; $135pp three-course dinner and show package featuring the freshest seasonal produce sourced by an internationally-trained team of award-winning chefs.

Dinner, show and accommodation bookings: hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885.


Blue Mountains, NSW: Snow-dusted Yulefest

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group       Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

The enchantment of opera performed within a legendary party palace, fine dining, the intimacy of crackling fireplaces and even the possibility of snow-dusted landscapes this Yulefest with Escarpment Group.

High tea with a view at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Locals and sojourners are warmly welcomed into any of its boutique hotels for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment to celebrate the season for which the Blue Mountains is most famous.

Walk up an appetite by wandering sumptuously refurbished, exotically-named spaces like Cat’s Alley and Salon du The on a guided history tour of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath while listening to saucy tales of indiscretion on a luxurious scale.

Then, indulge in a traditional high tea repose featuring nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley.

Alternatively, sink into the refined surrounds of the 5-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa lounge at Echo Point to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.

High tea in plush comfort at Lilianfels Resort & Spa

The decadent Yulefest theme continues with degustation dinners each Friday and Saturday throughout July in the historic Darley’s Restaurant on the Lilianfels property, as well as in the adjacent Echoes Restaurant and the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi encouraged locals to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by attending an event.

Hatted decadence at Darley’s Restaurant

“Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives.

“It’s also a great way for people who have made a recent tree change to mingle with their neighbours and make new community connections.’’

On July 21, one of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will celebrate with a special performance at the Hydro Majestic, 30 years since he literally stepped off the bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only.

Tenor Brad Cooper brings to enchantment of opera to the Hydro Majestic Hotel

On August 18, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s golden age with a program of crowd favourites from the best Viennese waltzes, gorgeous Wienerlieder (Vienna songs) and operetta to the wild world of the 1920s and `30s Berlin cabaret with a splash of comedian harmonists.

Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper and Johann Strauss Ensemble Vienna leader, violinist Russell McGregor, will be joined by Austrian accordionist Pavel Singer in the Wintergarden Restaurant performance, which will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.

Then, on August 25, experience opulence and history on a grand scale when the Hydro Express vintage train returns to the Blue Mountains.

Travel from Central in your choice of class carriage (standard, premier or lounge) aboard a heritage train hauled by restored 1950s diesel locomotive 4201. After a scenic two-hour rail journey to the Blue Mountains, be guided to the beautifully refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel for a luxe afternoon high tea.

Go to escarpmentgroup.com.au or phone (02) 4780 1200 for more information about accommodation packages, dining options and events.

*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Fireside dining at Darley’s Restaurant


Blue Mountains hospitality apprenticeship opportunities

Free 5-star training available for would-be hospitality workers in some of the best hotels in the Blue Mountains

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group     Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Would-be hospitality workers can receive 5-star training in the region’s top hotels for free after the State Government scrapped TAFE fees for 100,000 apprentices, saving students about $2000 per course in order to combat the national trades drought.

Escarpment Group of hotels will contribute to the training investment, to be facilitated by the Skilling Australia Fund from July 1, and has invited applicants to submit their details.

The company operates the most awarded resorts in regional NSW including Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Darley’s Restaurant, Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, the iconic Hydro Majestic Hotel and Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges in the Blue Mountains. Further north, it also owns the historic Convent in the Hunter Valley and the multi award-winning paddock-to-plate restaurant Circa 1876.

Apprenticeships are available in various roles

With 10 busy dining outlets, the need for skills is significant.

Escarpment Group operations manager Adam Holmes said training trades and tourism workers under an apprenticeship enrolment with TAFE would help top up falling worker numbers in the industry.

“Over the past five years the numbers of apprentices has reduced year on year to almost nil and we need more motivated skilled staff for regional tourism to thrive.

“Escarpment Group is a dynamic operator of premium hotels and resorts and needs trainees to future-proof the region for economic growth.’’

Apprenticeships are available in the roles of chef, housekeeping, food and beverage service, customer service and reception.

Mr Holmes, originally from Cronulla and recently returned to Australia from Mauritius, said: “Escarpment Group is the largest tourism employer in the Blue Mountains with numerous staff with experience in some of the top restaurants and hotels in the world, ready and willing to share their knowledge and skills with trainees.

“With five luxury properties across two mature tourism regions, there is plenty of opportunity for growth and diversity in a versatile career that can take you anywhere in the world.’’

Potential apprentices have been invited to submit details to recruitment@escarpmentgroup.com.au.

*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Apprentices will learn on the job from experienced staff


Festive arrival for Santa at Hydro Majestic Hotel, Blue Mountains

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

The naughty and the nice will soon be revealed as stockings are opened around the world, but it appears Santa Claus is paying special attention to Blue Mountains locals and visitors.

A TV weather camera last week captured what appeared to be Santa reverse parking over the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath. The above image was taken at 4.05am last Monday [December 11] by the unmanned camera and has generated much interest on social media.

The unknown element above the building on the left side of the photograph could be interpreted as a herd of reindeer reverse parking in formation, while the light in the middle of the picture above the spire atop the Belgravia accommodation wing is an unidentified flying object (Santa’s sleigh perhaps?).

Neither of those objects are usually in the night sky over the Hydro Majestic and appeared for just a minute.

Hydro Majestic guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “No one has actually seen Santa in the past few days but the Hydro Majestic has so many rooms, even a couple that have been boarded up, and a rumoured secret passage that he could very well be roaming around upstairs unbeknown to us.

“The reindeers have eight kilometres of bush from the back of the hotel right down to the Megalong Valley to hide in.

“Our chefs have noticed a slice of Christmas cake missing from the fridge and a used glass with traces of milk in the sink each morning though.’’

In any case, visitors to Mark Foy’s legendary “Palace in the wilderness’’ can experience the magic of Christmas from the moment they enter the Casino Lobby under the famous Hydro Majestic dome where they are greeted with snow domes, sparkling sentinels and an enormous tree twinkling with baubles, while the Wintergarden Restaurant has been adorned with wreaths and table decorations, watched over by two massive golden reindeers.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Fine dining award win for Circa 1876 restaurant, Hunter Valley NSW

Circa 1876 executive chef Trent Barrett creates a culinary masterpiece

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group        Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Circa 1876 is the best fine dining restaurant in regional NSW, with the Pokolbin restaurant’s win at the prestigious Restaurants & Catering Industry Association Australia (R&CA) awards last week [September 18] cementing its culinary reputation.

Executive chef Trent Barrett and his team brought home the NSW Regional Fine Dining award from the Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence. Circa 1876 also earned an honourable mention in the NSW Regional Restaurant Caterer category.

Circa 1876 executive chef Trent Barrett, whose sustainable dining philosophy fuels his menu through the restaurant’s kitchen garden, onsite bee hives, quails and chooks, praised his team: “No one can achieve excellence without the commitment and skills of a team, and I am blessed to work with so many talented chefs and wait staff here.

“While we appreciate that our guests expect to be wowed by our meal designs, our aim is always to nourish diners with ingredients of the freshest and highest quality. This award confirms we are on the right track.’’

Located next to Peppertree Wines, Circa 1876 and The Convent boutique hotel on the same property recently joined the Escarpment Group collection of luxury properties which also includes Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Echoes Boutique Hotel, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges and the famous Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “There are many fantastic restaurants in Australia and the Hunter Valley is home to some of the best, so this is a terrific achievement and a wonderful acknowledgment of the calibre of our business and the team behind it.’’

The R&CA Awards for Excellence is a nationally recognised, independently judged awards program that recognises exceptional service and culinary talent in restaurants, cafes, takeaway and catering businesses across Australia. It provides publicity for hospitality businesses, a chance to network with key suppliers and acknowledges the achievements of hospitality staff.

* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media


Hydro jazzes up Mountains’ nightlight

(l-r) Damien Whiteley and Brad Cooper perform at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at last year’s opera festival. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Masterpieces performed by some of the finest operatic and classical music talent followed by the unique tones of the Steve Hunter Trio will help jazz up the Blue Mountains nightlife scene in time for summer from the end of this month.

Bass Damian Whiteley. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Celebrate the long weekend in a sensual atmosphere of music, heartbreaking tragedy, passion and cheeky fun when the operatic traditions of the grandest of the region’s grand hotels are revived during the Blue Mountains Opera Festival on Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1.

Opera buffs can choose from one or more of the following performances:

  • 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 (you may even catch the singers giving a sneak preview of the evening concert).

 

  • Pianists Kristian Chong and Grace Kim perform together at the Hydro Majestic recently. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

    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. The singers will be accompanied by Sun Yi and Monique Irik on violin, Neil Thompson (viola), Minah Choe (cello) and Grace Kim (piano). Guests will also enjoy drinks and canapes on arrival at 5.30pm followed by an alternate two-course dinner with four-hour beverage package before the 7pm concert. Cost: $150pp.

  • High tea, Sunday: The festivities crescendo when eight of the finest string players perform with the ever popular Mendelssohn Octet featuring the talents of Sun Yi, Marianne Broadfoot, Monique Irik and Kerry Martin on violins, Rosemary Curtin and Neil Thompson on violas and Minah Choe and Rowena Macneish on cello.

Each high tea concert package ($65pp) includes a glass of sparkling wine or cocktail on arrival with a sumptuous three-tier offering including a selection of gourmet sandwiches, scones, pastries and handmade desserts served with tea and coffee. High tea will be served between 10.30am and 12pm with the concert from 12pm to 1pm.

The Boiler House Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Then, surrounded by the rustic industrial textures of brick and steel in the historic Boiler House Restaurant, the Steve Hunter Trio will kick off a new monthly Live@TheBoilerHouse music series on Saturday, October 7, with an intimate musical experience.

Featuring the internationally-renowned Steve Hunter on electric bass, Matt Keagan (sax) and Gordon Rytmeister (drums), the band encourages unique input from its individual musicians. Instead of taking on one typical jazz style, the composition style sees a focus on the strength of the “voices’’ of the players.

Joined by Michael Storey on guitar and Mervyn Sequeria on bass, singer Rebekka Neville will perform her repertoire of jazz standards, Latin and contemporary grooves on November 4.

 

Steve Hunter. Photo: Supplied

The renowned George Washingmachine Quartet will play the Boiler House with his special blend of music and visual talent on November 25.

General manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Ralf Bruegger said: “With a more casual atmosphere, contemporary music lineups, tapas food and reasonably-priced beverages, Boiler House events will introduce a new generation to the original Blue Mountains party palace.

“Music, parties and general revelry have always been a signature of the Hydro Majestic experience. People came here a hundred years ago to indulge and have fun, and we encourage the same today (elegantly of course).’’

The Steve Hunter Trio will play the Boiler House Restaurant from 7.30pm to 10pm Saturday, October 7. Tickets: $35. Bookings: reservations@hydromajestic.com.au.

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

The Boiler House Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Blue Mountains NSW on global show

Celebrity chef Luke Nguyen with (l-r) Darley’s Restaurant third year apprentice chef Kian Llorente, executive chef Lee Kwiez and commis chef Jessie Hapuku)

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

The Greater Blue Mountains region will be showcased to billions of potential tourism visitors when SBS airs the next Luke Nguyen cultural foodie series early next year.

The celebrity chef spent a whirlwind two days in the area recently filming interviews with food producers in the Jamison and Megalong valleys, visits to cultural identities such as the Escarpment Group-owned Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath, fusion cooking at Echoes Restaurant and inspiration gathering sessions with Darley’s Restaurant Hatted executive chef Lee Kwiez.

The SBS Food Diaries series, which will be shown in 160 countries, will trace Nguyen’s journey from his childhood roots and connections in Vietnam to his first restaurant in Surry Hills and his current international success.

Escarpment Group director Huong Nguyen has known Luke (no relation) since he was a child growing up in his family’s restaurant at Cabramatta: “Our fathers were both in the military before the war ended in 1975 and his family came to Australia shortly after mine.’’

Celebrity chef Luke Nguyen on location at Echoes Boutique Hotel filming his cultural foodie series SBS Food Diaries

Both Nguyen families were among two million Vietnamese to flee the Communist regime after it came to power in 1975. “Despite his humble background, Luke and siblings Pauline and Lewis were all resilient, creative and academically gifted and have all achieved outstanding success.’’

Nguyen is best known as the host of television series Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam and Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia. He is also a judge on MasterChef Vietnam and has appeared several times on MasterChef Australia as guest chef.

He also owns a cooking school and restaurants in Hong Kong and Vietnam, the Red Lantern in Surry Hills, Fat Noodle in The Star Sydney and the Treasury Hotel & Casino in Brisbane, and has penned several cookbooks.

“Now Luke is bringing Australia to the world. Yes, Luke’s latest series is definitely a fantastic showcase of our Blue Mountains properties, but it’s also great exposure for the region and will introduce millions, if not billions, of viewers throughout the world to the abundance of fresh regional produce available to them when they visit any restaurant, café, B&B or hotel that offers local flavours on their menus here,’’ Ms Nguyen said.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s wife visits Hydro Majestic

(l-r) Professor Cheng Hong accepts a gift from Escarpment Group director Huong Nguyen during her visit

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

Professor Cheng Hong and her party enjoyed high tea and a spectacular view during their visit


Blue Mountains: Cheeky fun returns to Hydro Majestic

Opera singers (l-r) Damien Whiteley and Brad Cooper will perform at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

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.

Tenor Brad Cooper performing at the Hydro Majestic Hotel last year

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:

Cellist Teije Hylkema performing at the original Blue Mountains party palace recently

 

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.

 

 

 

There will be plenty of operatic humour from bass Damian Whiteley

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.

Teije Hylkema will return to the Hydro Majestic

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

 


Blue Mountains: Moon Festival rises again at Hydro Majestic Hotel

Moon Festival 13

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group       Photos: David Hill

Asian street food, music, lanterns, lights and lions – lucky visitors to the original Blue Mountains party palace will experience all the sights and sounds of the Orient on Sunday, September 25.

Moon Festival 15The Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath will host its second spring Moon Festival to celebrate the season of re-awakening, traditional Asian culture, family and friends, new growth, harmony and the blessings of prosperity and abundance.

This year the harvest-themed event will be held at the Hydro Majestic Pavilion, where locals can mingle with international visitors to watch the exciting lion dance troupe performance under colourful lanterns.

Asian-inspired music will create extra atmosphere among the street stalls peddling dumplings, barbecued meat and seafood skewers, Banh Mi, fresh spring rolls, rice paper rolls, fried noodles, roasted corn cobs, Asian desserts and more.

General manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Ralf Bruegger said the Moon Festival was a chance to explore one of the most famous grand hotels in the world, celebrate the season of renewal and learn about the rich Chinese culture of the hotel.

“Around the turn of the 20th century, Chinese workers disillusioned with the lack of fortune in the Bathurst goldfields, found themselves stranded in the Blue Mountains with no money to return to Sydney.

Moon Festival 01“Mark Foy, the great Sydney retailer who built the Hydro Majestic Hotel, was fascinated with all things Asian and happily employed many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, who worked as a cook at Foy’s Sydney home and managing the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for thirty-five years.’’

The Moon Festival would also give travellers another reason to visit the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and Mr Bruegger encouraged visitors to stay at least one night to explore the region, with its 400 bushwalking tracks and numerous lookouts, boutique shopping and unique attractions.

“We have the most fantastic sunset views in the area for those who linger. There’s few more magical moments than watching the valley glow and the sky changing while sipping on a cocktail or a glass of regional wine.’’

The Hydro Majestic Moon Festival will be held at the hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 12pm to 4pm Sunday, September 25.

Go to www.escarpmentgroup.com.au to book accommodation and dining options at one of the four Escarpment Group properties in the upper Blue Mountains (the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant).Moon Festival 16


Yule love winter in the Blue Mountains

Yulefest Menus 05

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group                Photos: David Hill

Tis the season for fresh mountain air, toasty log fires, indulgent dining and even snow at the original Blue Mountains party palace this winter.

Yulefest Menus 01

 

Each Friday and Saturday throughout July, visitors to the Hydro Majestic Hotel can indulge in a decadent high tea featuring festive flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork.

Alternatively, dine on the sumptuous five-course degustation with a lobster bisque and cream fraiche micro chive amuse, entrée tasting plate, a turkey main course, gin and tonic granita cleanser and traditional plum pudding dessert.

The exquisite experience begins on arrival as guests are wowed with the grandeur of the Casino Lobby featuring the iconic domed roof with spectacular chandelier before walking through the understated elegance and warm ambience of the Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking magical mist-filled valleys.

 

Hydro Majestic Hotel head chef Mate Herceg with the Yulefest degustation in the Wintergarden Restaurant

Hydro Majestic Hotel head chef Mate Herceg with the Yulefest degustation in the Wintergarden Restaurant

Hydro Majestic Hotel head chef Mate Herceg said Yulefest had been a tradition in the area since 1980 and today, winter was the season for which the Blue Mountains was most famous.

It gets us into the festive season twice a year and really, who doesn’t like Christmas?’’ Mr Herceg said.It’s a time to come together, eat, drink warming beverages and share stories.’’

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger encouraged guests to fully immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by staying at least one night at the luxurious Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges at nearby Blackheath.

Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas with a frosty landscape outside and cosiness inside complete with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music that December really can’t match here, and it’s all just 90 minutes from Sydney.’’

 

Book your winter escape today at hydromajestic.com.au. Phone (02) 4782 6885 for more information.

* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Yulefest Menus 12


Blue Mountains: New outlook for African choir

(l-r) Echoes Boutique Hotel waiter Leo Tran with Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato of Uganda.

(l-r) Echoes Boutique Hotel waiter Leo Tran with Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato of Uganda.

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group           Photos: David Hill

Members of an African children’s choir experienced the diversity of the Aussie workforce during their visit to the Blue Mountains last week.

(l-r) Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato from Uganda with Lilianfels restaurant manager Jess Fisher in the Orangery dining venue.

(l-r) Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato from Uganda with Lilianfels restaurant manager Jess Fisher in the Orangery dining venue.

 

As well as enchanting audiences throughout the mountains and Emu Plains with vibrant singing and drumming performances, Ubuntu troupe members spent last Friday, May 20, “job shadowing’’ (observing) at Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle’s electorate office at Springwood, Blue Mountains City Council, Nepean Hospital, RKE Engineering at Emu Plains, Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre, Rare Birds women’s fashion shop at Wentworth Falls and Selwood House Vet Hospital, Hazelbrook.

Blue Mountains tour organiser Brendan O’Reilly said the young men and women of Ubuntu were African Children’s Choir graduates with diverse career aspirations and were thankful for the opportunity to spend time in Australian workplaces learning about workplace culture and practices.

 

 

(l-r) Joash Kiraqqa and Hydro Pavilion supervisor Jake Lewer.

(l-r) Joash Kiraqqa and Hydro Pavilion supervisor Jake Lewer.

 

They’re about to study to become doctors, engineers, diplomats, designers – one wants to be a flight attendant,’’ he said.Blue Mountains employers have made a great contribution to their African guests as they work hard to expand their horizons and free themselves and their families from poverty.’’

Four young people spent the day at Escarpment Group luxury hotels Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Echoes Boutique Hotel at Katoomba, and in the Wintergarden Restaurant and providores pavilion at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath before performing in a concert at Springwood High School that evening.

 

 

 

(l-r) Food & beverage manager Phu Le and Amos Emenyu in the Hydro Pavilion.

(l-r) Food & beverage manager Phu Le and Amos Emenyu in the Hydro Pavilion.

 

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “We welcome guests from around the world every day at our hotels so it was easy for us to host the young people from Ubuntu. We hope our new friends from Africa take home many good memories of their time in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. With beautiful warm smiles and excellent etiquette, I’m sure they would be well suited to careers in the tourism and hospitality industry.’’

 

The African Children’s Choir uses money raised from concert tours organised by charity Kwaya Australia and donations to educate children in poverty in Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere from primary school to university. Such concerts in the Blue Mountains have raised tens of thousands of dollars for education in Africa in recent years.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    (l-r) Escarpment Group training & business development co-ordinator Meagan Iervasi, Venerandah Nakato, Frank Kuteesa and Lilianfels restaurant manager dance on the lawns at Echoes.

    (l-r) Escarpment Group training & business development co-ordinator Meagan Iervasi, Venerandah Nakato, Frank Kuteesa and Lilianfels restaurant manager dance on the lawns at Echoes.


Blue Mountains: Escarpment Group gives your career the edge

Cocktails in Cats Alley 02

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Young hospitality workers can learn how to take their careers to new heights when Escarpment Group takes part in the TAA Hotel Career Expo in Sydney on May 16.

Those who attend will have the chance to meet influential hotel industry professionals such as Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger, who can explain the many opportunities the luxury collection of hotels has to offer across its four Blue Mountains properties (Lilianfels Resort & Spa along with Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges and the Hydro Majestic Hotel).

Escarpment Group career (1)“The expo will be a great opportunity to go behind the scenes at hotels such as ours and kick-start a new career in this fast-paced industry where you have the chance to travel around the world, meet lots of people from around the world and work in a rewarding career.’’

The free (although registration is essential) expo would be of interest to high school and university students, existing hotel staff and those looking for a career change.

Hotels are more than just check-in and housekeeping,’’ Mr Bruegger said.Like most hotels, Escarpment Group has lots of departments which ensure the smooth running of our properties, and they are all crucial in making sure our guests have a positive and memorable stay.’’

The hotel industry also stretches beyond major city borders into regional and even remote areas, offering staff further dimensions to their career and experience and authentic and creative hospitality experience.

Majestic Long Lunch 03For example, Escarpment Group had doubled its investment and staff numbers in the Blue Mountains in the past two years.

Staff of all experience levels worked with an international team of professionals and had the opportunity to work at properties across the group.

“While of course theory education is very important and we encourage it, we give our employees, especially the younger ones, practical training alongside those who have worked in the industry for a long time because we believe that learning from example is an experience that money cannot buy,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

Surrounded by the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, staff can also access a lifestyle like no other, spending leisure time exploring Australia’s most accessible wilderness and quaint villages which make up the community.

“It is a constant challenge for regional hotels like ours to attract dedicated skilled workers that are prepared to live in the area. Giving jobs to a local workforce is the ultimate goal,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

Escarpment Group career (6)Workers in the hotel industry on average stay in jobs for just 12 months or less, particularly those aged up to 21.

Escarpment Group, which has approximately 230 employees across its four Blue Mountains properties, hoped to combat the problems associated with a transient workforce with a new scholarship-style program and a first for Australia.

While the details of the new program would be announced shortly, Mr Bruegger said the aim was to foster more training pathways to create a stable, skilled workforce, which would lead to sustainable quality of product and service not just at Escarpment Group hotels but eventually throughout the region.

“This program will be a direct investment in the front and back of house workforce future of Escarpment Group hotels and beyond.’’

The free 2016 Hotel Career Expo will be held at the InterContinental, 117 Macquarie St, Sydney, from 10am to 6pm on May 16.

The expo will include inspiring seminars, exhibits from 20 hotel brands including Escarpment Group, career-focused interactive booths, the opportunity to connect with industry leaders and the chance to win fantastic prizes.

Go to www.hotelcareerexpo.com.au to register.

* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill MediaEscarpment Group career (2)


Blue Mountains: Burlesque to seduce Hydro Majestic Hotel

Burlesque performer Jacqueline Furey. Photo: Joel Devereux

Burlesque performer Jacqueline Furey. Photo: Joel Devereux

 

 By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Sheer enchantment, chimera and intrigue will herald a modern era of breathtaking drama for the original Blue Mountains party palace when the Australian Burlesque Festival performs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in May.

The Australian Burlesque Festival featuring Shake-O-Rama will offer three hours of cheeky variety entertainment with more than a dozen buxom burlesque artists.

Shake-O-Rama promises a glamorous night of classic tease and modern neo-burlesque that will dazzle, delight and stimulate the senses featuring some of the best and most entertaining international and local performers.

Dolores Daiquiri. Photo: 3 Fates Media

Dolores Daiquiri. Photo: 3 Fates Media

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The original owner of the Hydro Majestic, Mark Foy, held legendary parties here, so this kind of saucy entertainment is not new for the hotel – all performed with the famous Hydro elegance of course.’’

The sizzling adults-only show will celebrate traditional burlesque arts, vintage-flavoured tease, sensual cabaret and variety entertainment.

Guests will be delighted, tantalised and pleasantly entertained as they experience jaw-droppingly glamourous exotic and neo-burlesque seduction and titillating strip-tease shows from leading stars of the genre.

Directed, pro­duced, owned and operated by burlesque star and producer Dolores Dai­quiri, the Australian Burlesque Festival is the largest touring burlesque festival in the world.

Established in 2009 to cel­eb­rate the bur­lesque com­munity, the avant-garde troupe of performers deb­ut­ed in 2010 to sell-out audi­ences.

The Australian Burlesque Festival will seduce at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 8pm to 11pm Saturday, May 28. Tickets: $75 + booking fee show only, $160 + booking fee dinner and show. Age restriction: 18+. Bookings and details: hydromajestic.com.au or (02) 4782 6885.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill MediaAust Burlesque Festival 2016_Logo_SocialMedia

Blue Mountains: Met Orchestra returns romance to Hydro Majestic

Cocktails and Serenades 15

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group              Photos: David Hill

The first in a series of classical music concerts at the Hydro Majestic Hotel last Saturday re-established Mark Foy’s “Palace in the wilderness’’ as the definitive destination for romance and elegance.

Chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

Chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

The Metropolitan Orchestra played to critical acclaim in the world-famous hotel’s Majestic Ballroom after guests supped on specially created cocktails and canapes followed by dinner and wines showcasing local and regional produce.

Editor of prestigious classical music publication Limelight Magazine, Clive Paget, who attended the concert, wrote a glowing review of the occasion.

“The sumptuously appointed Majestic Ballroom with its bowed ceiling turned out to boast a rather good acoustic for what proved to be a very classy concert.

“Eschewing the tendency for throwaway `pops’ on such occasions, the Hydro and the Met opted to properly engage its audience with two meaty masterworks for string orchestra by late romantics, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.’’

Cocktails and Serenades 07As well as the two string serenades, Paget praised the orchestra’s rendition of Rojas’ Little Serenade for Strings and encore piece Piazzolla’s Libertango, along with the fascinating’’ vintage fashion show by The Darnell Collection of International Vintage Courture andtoe tapping sets from smoky-voice’’ jazz singer Evelyn Duprai in the nearby Majestic Marquee space.

The entire event was a captivating, invigorating experience that I expect would have delighted the Hydro’s original, eccentric host’’.Thoroughly recommended.’’

The Metropolitan Orchestra will perform again at the Hydro Majestic when the original party palace hosts the masquerade Winter Ball to officially launch the Yulefest season in the Blue Mountains on Saturday, June 18.

Cocktails and Serenades 36Under the baton of artistic director and chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, more than 50 musicians will perform O’Boyle’s Rhapsody on a theme of Mendelssohn, Horn Concerto no 1 by Strauss, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony no 4 Italian by Mendelssohn.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said the concert series harked back to the Mark Foy days when events were not merely concerts but opulent occasions.

“The feedback from this first concert has been very positive. The combination of exquisite music by some of the most talented classical musicians in Australia, fine regional food designed and prepared by award-winning chefs, this beautiful hotel and the magnificent surrounds of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area re-establishes the Hydro Majestic as the venue for romance and elegance in the region.’’

The final concert will be Symphony Under the Stars on November 19 featuring Mendelsson’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture, Kats-Chernin’s Ornamental Air (for basset clarinet and orchestra) and Symphony no 7 by Beethoven. Guests will also indulge in a sultry evening of canapes and cocktails followed by a two-course dinner.

Cocktails and Serenades 34

 

 

 

The Metropolitan Orchestra comprises Sydney’s most dynamic musicians and is recognised as one of the country’s most versatile orchestras delivering accessible, first-class and vibrant concert experiences.

 

 

 

 

Jazz singer Evelyn Duprai

Jazz singer Evelyn Duprai

The orchestra’s seven-year history features a star-studded array of highlight concert and/or album performances along with several world premieres and special events such as BBC’s Blue Planet and Planet Earth in Concert, Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, Opera in the Vineyards, the National Rugby League grand final; and sailing the high seas as resident orchestra aboard the Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts.

 

 

Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au to book Majestic Concert Series tickets, dinner and accommodation.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media Cocktails and Serenades 50

Biggest Blue Mountains classical muso gathering comes to Hydro Majestic Hotel

TMO in the famous Cat's Alley of the Hydro Majestic Hotel

TMO in the famous Cat’s Alley of the Hydro Majestic Hotel

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group          Photos: The Metropolitan Orchestra

The largest gathering of professional classical musicians ever in the Blue Mountains will add an extra layer of sumptuousness to a world-famous icon when The Metropolitan Orchestra performs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel this year.

TMO artistic director & chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

TMO artistic director & chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

Guests can immerse themselves in the delicate strains of the 32-piece string ensemble playing Little Serenade for Strings by Rojas, String Serenade by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky’s String Serenade conducted by Sarah-Grace Williams at Cocktails & Serenades during the first of three concerts on Saturday, March 12.

The sumptuous pairing of the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky string masterpieces filled with purity, beauty and passion will lift the spirit.

Composed just five years apart and written at positive times in each of the composers’ lives, these joyful and evocative serenades will be complemented by Rojas’ fresh and vivacious work, rounding out a sublime musical evening.

The exquisite concert program will be accompanied by a lavish cocktail and dining package.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The Hydro Majestic is the perfect backdrop to the Majestic Concert Series, with its elegant historic venues, sweeping landscape and delicious food.

Hydro Majestic 01

The iconic Casino Dome of the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

“As well as harking back to the Mark Foy days when everything was luxury on the largest scale, these concerts featuring musicians of the highest calibre at such a fantastic venue is reminiscent of the grand concert halls of Europe.

“We’re not just putting on a concert. We are creating an occasion.’’

The second concert, featuring more than 50 musicians like the third, will be performed at the Majestic Winter Ball, which will officially launch the Yulefest season for the Hydro Majestic Hotel on June 18.

The event will include a three-course dinner package and the music program will feature O’Boyle’s Rhapsody on a theme of Mendelssohn, Horn Concerto no 1 by Strauss, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony no 4 Italian by Mendelssohn.

The final concert will be Symphony Under the Stars on November 19 featuring Mendelsson’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture, Kats-Chernin’s Ornamental Air (for basset clarinet and orchestra) and Symphony no 7 by Beethoven. Guests will also indulge in a sultry evening of canapes and cocktails followed by a two-course dinner.

TMO in the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

TMO in the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Under the baton of founding artistic director and chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, The Metropolitan Orchestra comprises Sydney’s most dynamic musicians and is recognised as one of the country’s most versatile orchestras delivering accessible, first-class and vibrant concert experiences.

The orchestra’s seven-year history features a star-studded array of highlight concert and/or album performances with the likes of Sumi Jo, David Helfgott, Marina Pior, Anthony Warlow, Elaine Paige, John Farnham with Olivia Newton-John, James Morrison, Kate Ceberano, Vocal Ensembles Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Chamber Choir, Figaro and members of Opera Australia and Children’s Entertainers Lah-Lah and Buzz.

The orchestra has been involved in special events such as BBC’s Blue Planet and Planet Earth in Concert, Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, Opera in the Vineyards, the National Rugby League grand final; and sailing the high seas as resident orchestra aboard the Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts.

The Metropolitan Orchestra has commissioned, presented and recorded world premieres by several Australian composers and has workshopped new works by Paul Stanhope, Stuart Greenbaum, Matthew Hindson and James Humberstone.

Cocktails & Serenades will be held at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, at 7pm on March 12. Cost: $145pp includes 4-hour cocktails and canapes package, $55pp show only. Bookings and details: hydromajestic.com.au for more dining, event and accommodation details and bookings.

  • Escarpment Group and the Hydro Majestic Hotel are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media

    The Metropolitan Orchestra in the famous Cat's Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

    The Metropolitan Orchestra in the famous Cat’s Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel


Blue Mountains: Double your odds at Hydro `20s gangster night

Hydro Majestic 01

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group             Photo: David Hill

Support the CareFlight cause when you book one ticket to the Gangster Casino Night at the Hydro Majestic Hotel on Friday, February 5, and the original Blue Mountains party palace will double your odds with a second.

The event, which will kick off Roaring 20s-themed events at the hotel during that weekend, will celebrate the era of breaking with tradition, crooks and prosperity – without prohibition.

Guests can play Blackjack, Poker, Roulette, The Money Wheel with Majestic Money at casino-quality tables with professionally trained casino standard croupiers.

Prizes on the night will include accommodation packages, dinner and show tickets, day spa and high tea packages and more.

An 18 years plus age restriction applies for this event, which will be held from 9pm to 11pm and attended by NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres.

“The NSW Government is proud to support this great local event which raises money and awareness for the outstanding work of CareFlight,’’ he said.

“Events such as the Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz provide even more compelling reasons for visitors to come and explore the beautiful Blue Mountains.’’

Net proceeds from the event will go to CareFlight aeromedical charity. Donation receipts are available on the night for cash-in purchases only.

Stuart AyresEstablished in 1986 with a mission to save lives, speed recovery and provide the highest standard of rapid response critical care, CareFlight has since helped more than 5000 patients a year.

CareFlight relationship development manager Andrew Whitelaw said: “CareFlight’s first mission, close to thirty years ago was flying two children after an accident in Lithgow. From those early beginnings, CareFlight has continued to service the greater Blue Mountains communities. Without the generous support of these communities, we would not be able to take off – literally.’’

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “When the chips are down, CareFlight is always there for the community. Now it’s our turn to support them by raising the fundraising stakes.’’

Guests who book one ticket to the Gangster Casino Night will receive a second ticket for a partner or friend.

Elegantly dressed gangsters and flappers can relive the era of sumptuous architecture, saucy clothing, outrageous dancing and jazz music at the most famous hotel in Australia on February 5.

The popular festival will continue to swing at 11am on Saturday, February 6, when 1000 people attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the largest number of costumed people dancing the Charleston at the Hydro Majestic Charleston Challenge.

That will be followed by the Majestic Long Lunch from 1pm to 5pm featuring regional food and wine, special guests, dancing and jazz music.

Guests can complete their immersive 1920s experience with Shanghai Nights of cocktails and canapes, lights, lanterns and jazz music to celebrate on the eve of the Chinese lunar New Year.

The Roaring 20s Festival will continue throughout February at other venues around the Blue Mountains.

Go to hydromajestic.com.au to book the Gangster Casino Night ($65 for two tickets) and other Hydro Majestic Hotel events and register for the Hydro Charleston Challenge.


Blue Mountains: Hydro Majestic turns old Shanghai

Moon Festival 11

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group                    Photos: David Hill

Celebrate the rich prospects of 2016 on the eve of the Chinese lunar New Year when the most fabulously famous hotel in Australia celebrates its Asian heritage with a special Shanghai Nights event on Saturday, February 6.

The event will be part of Roaring 20s Festival events to be held at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, to celebrate the 1920s era when Australia’s first tourist destination kicked up its heels for a decade-long party.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The Hydro Majestic has been blessed with a long connection with Asia.

Many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, worked at the Hydro Majestic Hotel during the Mark Foy era.

Many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, worked at the Hydro Majestic Hotel during the Mark Foy era.

“Around the turn of the 20th century, the hotel became the good fortune of Chinese workers disillusioned with the Bathurst goldfields and stranded in the Blue Mountains with no money to return to Sydney.

“Mark Foy, the great Sydney retailer who built the Hydro Majestic Hotel, was fascinated with all things Asian and happily employed many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, who worked as a cook at Foy’s Sydney home and managing the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for thirty-five years.’’

The Shanghai Nights event will wrap up Roaring 20s Festival events at the Hydro Majestic, which will kick off with a Gangster Casino Night on Friday, February 5, and also include on Saturday, February 6, the Hydro Charleston Challenge world record attempt for the largest number of costumed people to dance the Charleston and the Majestic Long Lunch featuring local and regional food and wine.

 

Shanghai Nights will include an evening of exotic cocktails and canapes, lights, lanterns and jazz music to celebrate on the eve of the Chinese lunar New Year.

“This will be a very beautiful event which reminds people of the romance of the 1920s and the elegance of the Hydro Majestic rather than just the flappers and gangsters,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

“We will recreate the softness of the lighting, the reds and greens and golden colours, the feathers and fabrics, the sophisticated lines of the architecture. Guests will feel like they have slipped into a fantastic dream.’’

Guests are encouraged to dress in 1920s-style Asian fashion to help create an authentic atmosphere of old Shanghai.

For women, that could include kimono-style coats and robes or cheongsams and richly embroidered fabrics accessorised with carved bone, ivory and mother-of-pearl jewellery and high heeled shoes.

Men could wear a western-style three-piece business suit which became popular in China during the 1920s or the tradition Chang Pao and Ma Gua long shirts over traditional drawstring “lantern pants’’ and finished with a top hat.

The Roaring 20s Festival celebrates the sumptuous architecture, saucy clothing, outrageous dancing and jazz music of the hedonistic heyday of Australia’s first tourist destination, the Blue Mountains. The festival will continue throughout February at other venues around the area.

Go to hydromajestic.com.au to book for Shanghai Nights ($150 per person), the Gangster Casino Night, the Majestic Long Lunch, to register for the Hydro Charleston Challenge and for more event, accommodation and dining option information and bookings.

* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

Moon Festival 20


Blue Mountains: Escarpment Group driving cutting edge technology

Recharge your own batteries inside an Escarpment Group luxury hotel at the same time

Recharge your own batteries inside an Escarpment Group luxury hotel at the same time

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Continuing its tradition of being an industry and regional leader, the Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels in the Blue Mountains is home to Sydney’s first Audi e-tron charger.

The initiative means that the most famous hotel in Australia, the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath, and the only 5-star hotel in the region, Lilianfels Resort & Spa, are now clean mobility providers, offering the revolutionary plug-in to the new battery-run Audi A3 Sportback prototype.

In fact, the e-tron charger is just the latest in a string of firsts for the historic Hydro Majestic since it was built in 1904 by cutting edge retail doyenne Mark Foy.

A huge car enthusiast, Foy owned several of the first cars brought into Australia and inspired the first car rally from Melbourne to Sydney and subsequently, Sydney to the Blue Mountains.

Totally enamoured with the motor car, Foy then began Australia’s first motoring touring business, travelling from Blackheath to Jenolan Caves. With the exception of a line of steam omnibuses in Western Australia, it was the first public service motoring venture in Australia.

At the time, the hotel included a steam-driven generator imported from Germany, which produced electricity for the resort and the neighbouring township of Medlow Bath in the upper Blue Mountains.

The Audi A3 Sportback

The Audi A3 Sportback

The Hydro Majestic had working electricity four days before Sydney. It also had its own water supply, steam laundry, freezing works, sewage treatment works and was one of the first in the Blue Mountains to have a telephone system connected to the Sydney exchange.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “Mark Foy is well known for his legendary outrageous parties, but he was actually responsible for much progress in the Blue Mountains, in the tourism industry and for the nation,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

“Foy was a leader because he had the money to do it of course but also because he had the gumption and the foresight to take risks and make change. He refused to be bound by the conservative traditions of the day, nor would he accept hardship as a reason for not doing something.

“You could say that attitude is the unofficial philosophy of Escarpment Group – we don’t follow the pack, we lead it.’’

The e-tron plug-in is one of several green initiatives implemented by Escarpment Group across its four Blue Mountains properties which also includes Echoes Boutique Hotel and Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges to ensure the properties comply with 21st century environmental standards.

All seven dining venues at the hotels have a focus on local and regional produce to reduce food mileage, a composting plant will soon be installed at Parklands and there is an energy efficient plant room at Lilianfels which helps cut greenhouse gasses and energy by regulating heating and cooling of air and pool temperatures throughout the year.

One e-tron charger is available at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, while there are two others at Lilianfels.

“Simply plug in your car and recharge your own batteries inside the hotel,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

“Guests at Lilianfels will be pampered whatever they choose to do, while visitors to the Hydro can take a tour, a casual meal in the Boiler House Café or the Wintergarden Restaurant or light refreshments at the Hydro Majestic Pavilion or in the famous Salon du The and Cat’s Alley venue.’’

Go to escarpmentgroup.com.au for more information about accommodation and dining options.

* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

The Hydro Majestic Hotel and Lilianfels Resort & Spa have the first Audi e-tron chargers in Sydney

The Hydro Majestic Hotel and Lilianfels Resort & Spa have the first Audi e-tron chargers in Sydney


Blue Mountains: Hydro revs up for majestic car rally

Porsche will be represented at the Hydro Majestic Car Rally

Porsche will be represented at the Hydro Majestic Car Rally

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group             Modern car photos: David Hill

The original Blue Mountains party palace will rev up when the Hydro Majestic Hotel hosts a vintage and modern super car show on the November 28 and 29 weekend.

Veteran cars such as this 1912 Buick will be a feature

Veteran cars such as this 1912 Buick will be a feature

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “Original owner of the hotel, retailer Mark Foy was a huge car enthusiast and actually owned a number of the first cars brought into Australia and inspired the first car rally from Melbourne to Sydney and subsequently, Sydney to the Blue Mountains’’

Opened originally as The Hydropathic Establishment on July 4, 1904, during a snowstorm, a group of special guests arrived by train at Penrith where Mr Foy had a fleet of motor cars waiting to drive them to the clifftop hotel in the upper mountains.

Totally enamoured with the motor car, Foy then began Australia’s first motoring touring business, travelling from Blackheath to Jenolan Caves. With the exception of a line of steam omnibuses in Western Australia, it was the first public service motoring venture in Australia.

An arduous journey even today, the trip was taken in two 9-h.p De Dion cars, propelled by petrol and each seating six people.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph of September 29, 1903, reads: “…and so far they have given every satisfaction, doing the journey in about three hours and a half.

“The visitors were entertained by Mr. Mark Foy, who is an enthusiastic patron of the sport of motoring, at his residence at Medlow, and great interest was taken by them in the preparations being made there for the erection of an elaborate hotel and hydropathic establishment.’’

Modern super cars from stables such as Audi will rev into the Hydro Majestic Hotel carpark

Modern super cars from stables such as Audi will rev into the Hydro Majestic Hotel carpark

Since relaunching last October after a sumptuous refurbishment, the Hydro Majestic is once again a luxurious pit stop.

“The Hydro Majestic is right on the Great Western Highway, enroute to the Eastern Creek and Bathurst race tracks and the highway is a well-travelled scenic drive route for tourists, so seeing Lamborghinis and Ferraris in our carpark is not unusual for us,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

“The Hydro Majestic has a reputation for being a little racy, a bit naughty and outrageous so we didn’t want to settle for one or two – we will have dozens of the fastest, meanest and sexiest cars that have ever been on the road.’’

The Hydro Majestic car show will feature modern super cars and veteran cars on display and offering joy rides for visiting guests.

Car enthusiasts are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the motoring experience and stay at least one night at an Escarpment Group property, each with private parking.

Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au for information about the car rally and www.escarpmentgroup.com.au to book accommodation and dining.

The car rally will highlight the famous hotel's racier side

The car rally will highlight the famous hotel’s racier side

 


Blue Mountains: Full moon rising over Hydro Majestic festival

The Hydro Majestic Moon Festival added spring colour to Australia's most famous hotel

The Hydro Majestic Moon Festival added spring colour to Australia’s most famous hotel

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group                                    Photos: David Hill

A full lunar sphere rising above the original Blue Mountains party palace set the tone for the inaugural Hydro Majestic Hotel Moon Festival last weekend.

Chinese lanterns provided a cheerful glow

Chinese lanterns provided a cheerful glow

 

Several hundred people attended the event on Saturday despite inclement weather and those who visited on Sunday were rewarded with a clear sky and full moon.

The Moon Festival celebrated the season of re-awakening, traditional Asian culture, family and friends, new growth, harmony and the blessings of prosperity and abundance.

Guests wandered the harvest-themed stalls showcasing local and regional produce and feasted on Asian street food including noodles, dumplings and moon cake all under the cheerful glow of Chinese lanterns strung between the trees and the world-famous hotel buildings.

 

 

A dragon dance was part of the entertainment

A lion dance was part of the entertainment

 

There was also a Buddhist prayer session and a colourful lion dance performance.

Floating lanterns were an attraction for children

Floating lanterns were an attraction for children

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The Moon Festival was a great success. People came because the most famous hotel in Australia has come back to life and because we put on an event for the whole family.

 

 

“Official figures recently confirmed that the Blue Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in Australia and the Echo Point Visitors Information Centre rated the highest performing in the state but people need a reason to visit and Mark Foy’s `Palace in the wilderness’ is doing just that for locals and visitors.’’

 

A drum performance was part of the entertainment

A drum performance was part of the entertainment

 

 

 

The Moon Festival was just one of the events planned at the Hydro Majestic, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, including Oktoberfest from 12pm to 5pm this Saturday and Sunday, when visitors can nibble on fried chicken and sip German beer from commemorative steins.

Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

The Hydro Majestic Moon Festival will be an annual event

The Hydro Majestic Moon Festival will be an annual event

 


Blue Mountains: Warwick Fuller artists’ retreat on the edge

Artist Warwick Fuller at work

Artist Warwick Fuller at work

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Artists can take their talent right to the edge with one of Australia’s top painters at a workshop retreat at Parkland’s Country Gardens & Lodges in September.

Renowned landscape painter Warwick Fuller will lead an intimate three-day outdoor oil painting workshop for a select group of 10 energetic artists with experience in oils at the luxurious Escarpment Group property at Blackheath from September 15 to 17.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The Blue Mountains has been recognised as a `city of the arts’ and Escarpment Group properties have featured in artworks for decades, especially Darley’s Restaurant at our Lilianfels Resort & Spa property and the very famous Hydro Majestic Hotel.

“So we are delighted to continue that tradition and offer the Parklands property as a luxurious artists retreat.’’

Fuller, who lives at Little Hartley, has had more than 60 solo exhibitions throughout Australia and internationally, has received numerous awards and is represented in prominent galleries in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and London.

The plein air painter and Fellow of the Royal Art Society of NSW has paintings hung in private, corporate and institutional collections throughout the world.

Fuller’s style of landscape painting was emotive yet sincere, he said.

Cloud to the West, Blackheath, by Warwick Fuller

Cloud to the West, Blackheath, by Warwick Fuller

“You can read ad infinitum of the landscape painter trying to paint his feelings’,capture the light’, `render the mood of a scene’. There is nothing particularly new or unique in this ideology, developed in part through a natural progression of a very strong landscape tradition in Australia. It is sad to see these expressions misused, abused and over used to the point of becoming almost meaningless with insincerity.

“Those statements are though, I believe, some of the more important aims and ideals at the core of the genuine landscape painter’s psyche. I, like others, do search for a means of expressing these qualities. I know for me these are genuine and worthy goals. In this, there is a dilemma I feel will test me.

“It has been a long-held opinion of mine that too often the work of the traditional landscape painter has been seen in an over-familiar sort of way. That is, known objects in the picture being seen superficially and assessed according to a preconceived understanding of those objects. How do I express my vision of the subject unambiguously? It’s not a technical thing as for example, in composition. It’s far more elusive than that.

“I am doubting more often whether the direction I am taking can adequately reveal, for example, the thrill of gazing at the last rays of sunlight in the tree tops. I can paint something of what it looks like but I am trying to paint how I feel! I want my pictures to sing the songs I sang when I painted them. My hope is that if I can paint with the joy of that moment, something of my emotional responses to the moment will shine through.’’

Mr Bruegger said: “We look forward to seeing how the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area location inspires each artist under the tuition of one of the greatest Australian landscape painters of our time.’’

Warwick Fuller will host an artists’ workshop at Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, 132 Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath, from September 15 to 17.

Workshop cost: $400 for three days. Special accommodation packages available: $259 per room per night for twin share with hot breakfast for two adults; $200 per room per night single share with breakfast plus $25 for working lunch including fruit and juice.

Phone (02) 4787 7211 or go to www.parklands.com.au to book accommodation and dining options.

 


Revel in spring at Hydro Majestic Moon Festival, Blue Mountains

Celebrate the season of re-awakening at one of the most famous hotels in the world

Celebrate the season of re-awakening at one of the most famous hotels in the world. Photo: Brigitte Grant Photography

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Revel in the season of re-awakening when the original Blue Mountains party palace, the Hydro Majestic Hotel, hosts a spring Moon Festival to celebrate traditional Asian culture, family and friends, new growth, harmony and the blessings of prosperity and abundance on September 26 and 27.

Wander the harvest-themed stalls showcasing local and regional produce at the undercover market by the cheerful glow of Chinese lanterns.

Sup on noodles, dumplings, barbecue skewers, wok-fried finger food and Asian-inspired desserts; taste traditional moon cake; see the exciting dragon dance and drum performance; and learn about the long association of Chinese culture at one of the most famous grand hotels in the world, recently refurbished back to its original glory.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said it was believed to be the first time a formal celebration with dragon dance had been held in the Blue Mountains.

“The Hydro Majestic actually has a very rich Asian history.

“Around the turn of the 20th century, Chinese workers disillusioned with the lack of fortune in the Bathurst goldfields, found themselves stranded in the Blue Mountains with no money to return to Sydney.

“Mark Foy, the great Sydney retailer who built the Hydro Majestic Hotel, was fascinated with all things Asian and happily employed many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, who worked as a cook at Foy’s Sydney home and managing the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for thirty-five years.’’

Many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, worked at the Hydro Majestic Hotel during the Mark Foy era.

Many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, worked at the Hydro Majestic Hotel during the Mark Foy era.

The inaugural Hydro Majestic Moon Festival and Oktoberfest the following weekend will also celebrate the genuinely iconic hotel’s return to its rightful place as an alluring playground to locals of and visitors to the Greater Blue Mountains, Mr Bruegger said.

“The Hydro was Mark Foy’s `Palace in the wilderness’. It was over the top, a bit naughty and Foy himself was outrageous at times.

“Escarpment Group injected the building with that decadence during the refurbishment. Now we are filling the social calendar with fresh festivals and events to once again fill the hotel with life and laughter.

“The Hydro Majestic is once again the place to be to have fun.’’

The Moon Festival and Oktoberfest also gave travellers another reason to visit the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and Mr Bruegger encouraged visitors to stay at least one night to explore the region.

“We have plenty of beds, many different dining options and a kilometre-long world-famous hotel to explore,’’ he said.

“But we’re not greedy – roam the spectacular Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah; wander the boutiques in the quaint mountain villages; stretch your legs on one of 400 bush tracks; ride the Scenic skyway, cablecar and train; and cuddle a koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park to or from Sydney.’’

The Hydro Majestic Moon Festival will be held at the hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 2pm to 9pm Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27. The dragon dance will be staged at 4pm both days.

Go to www.escarpmentgroup.com.au to book accommodation and dining options at one of the four Escarpment Group properties in the upper Blue Mountains (the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant).


“All about the yum’’ for NSW Chef of the Year Lee Kwiez

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

He was acknowledged by industry for his fine dining creations but for NSW Chef of the Year, Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez, “it’s all about the yum’’.

His top chef gong was one of five major awards received by Escarpment Group in the Blue Mountains at the Tourism Accommodation Association (NSW) Awards of Excellence in July.

Darleys Restaurant at the Lilianfels Resort & Spa property at Katoomba also took home Regional Restaurant of the Year.

Darleys Restaurant won the Regional Restaurant of the Year Award

Darleys Restaurant won the Regional Restaurant of the Year Award

Other Escarpment Group awards included Regional Superior Hotel of the Year for Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, Regional Deluxe Hotel of the Year for Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Front of House Employee of the Year for Lilianfels duty manager Meagan Iervasi. The world-famous Hydro Majestic Hotel Blue Mountains at Medlow Bath also received a highly commended for Redeveloped Hotel of the Year.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger, himself a career executive chef, said: “We are very proud to have the top chef in NSW leading our restaurant team. The innovation from his kitchen is exceptional and I am particularly impressed with how he is embracing local and regional food in the menu.

“However, the award for Darleys Restaurant shows that the outstanding dining experience our guests have come to expect is the result of an excellent team of chefs and wait staff at the restaurant.

“Darleys is a beautiful restaurant – the refurbished décor and gorgeous view, the customer service and the fantastic food is world-class.’’

A Colo High School alumni who grew up on a large rural property at Freemans Reach in the Hawkesbury, Kwiez’ culinary career inspiration was cooked up at home.

Mum was cooking shepherd’s pie when I was 14/15 and I thought `I want to be a chef’, then I did work experience at Maxwell’s Table at Kurmond and stayed on to Year 12,’’ he said.I finished school on the Thursday and started work full-time at Maxwell’s Table on the Monday.’’

During his career, Kwiez has travelled the world working in kitchens in Switzerland, Hayman Island and Canada before returning to Sydney where he worked at several restaurants including Milson’s Restaurant.

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez has won many awards

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez has won many awards

He was responsible for raising the Woolwich Pier Hotel from number 13 out of 20 to 18/20 in the Good Pub Guide, ranking it one of the top seven pubs in NSW.

“Flavour. Simple. That’s why I love being a chef,’’ Kwiez said.

“Food has got to look good obviously but if it looks pretty and you can’t eat it, I’m not interested. It’s all about the taste – it’s got to have the yum factor.’’

Kwiez has embraced the national focus on local and regional produce, choosing for his menus from produce grown in the 6000sqm kitchen garden at the Escarpment Group-owned Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges property at Blackheath wherever possible.

“Freshness, seasonality and locally grown: that’s my aim in the Darleys kitchen wherever possible,’’ he said.

What can’t be sourced from the Parklands garden is bought from local and regional suppliers from a 100 mile radius of Darleys Restaurant.

The range of produce is enormous, from Dutch carrots, nasturtium flowers and tomatoes to quince, pears, apples, plums, kale, broccoli and more, even the occasional catch of yabbies.

You think `Great, we can make a soup, we can make a salad’,’’ Kwiez said.You go online, you look at cookbooks, you look at what other chefs are doing, you look at three Hatted restaurants. Then you make a little salad or something and tell the customers it’s from the dam up the road – Parklands Pond Yabbies, there you go.’’

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez focuses on local and regional produce

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez focuses on local and regional produce

Kwiez counts former colleague Saffire Freycinet head chef Hugh Whitehouse (they were apprentices together at Maxwell’s Table and Kwiez took over Darleys from Whitehouse) as a mentor who inspires his own culinary creativity.

While Kwiez is the recognised talent of the Darleys kitchen, he also credited his team for the exceptional standard of food and service at the multi award-winning restaurant: “I’ve got a great team – it’s not just about me. Without them I couldn’t do this.’’

Away from the restaurant kitchen, the father-of-three loves simple flavoursome food: “ A nice steak or sausages as long as you’ve got a big salad to go with it. Or roast chicken with roast potatoes in rosemary and garlic and a big side of greens, that’s my favourite thing with maybe a nice sauce from the roasting juices of the chicken. You can’t beat a good roast chicken.’’

Darley’s Restaurant, Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba, is open from 6pm to 10.30pm Tuesday to Saturday. Reservations: (02) 4780 1200 or reservations@lilianfels.com.au.

 

Awards – Lee Kwiez

  • Woolwich Pier Hotel: Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Guide 2012-Three schooners award (18/20)
  • Milsons Restaurant: Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide – One Hat Award
    2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
  • Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide – One wine glass award 2009, 2008, 2007
  • Gourmet Traveler wine awards – -Two glasses 2004
  • Gourmet Traveler food awards – -two stars 2006, one star 2005
  • Jaspers Restaurant: Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide – One Hat Award 2001, 2000

Awards – Darleys Restaurant

  • Regional Restaurant of the Year 2013 – Tourism Accommodation Awards for Excellence 2013
  • Fine Dining Restaurant Award – 2010 Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence – NSW Regional
  • Australian Hotels Association (NSW)Hall of Fame. 2010
  • Best Regional Restaurant – SMH Good Food Guide Awards – 2010
  • Two Chefs Hats – SMH Good Food Guide Awards – 2010
  • Regional Restaurant of the Year – AHA (NSW) Awards for Excellence – 2009
  • Two Chef’s Hats – SMH Good Food Guide Awards – 2009
  • Hotel Restaurant of the Year – Hotel Management National Awards – 2007

Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Local and regional produce is a key feature of Darleys Restaurant

Local and regional produce is a key feature of Darleys Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media