Darling Harbour hotel to be Sofitel

“Sydney needs a CBD helipad to be a truly international convention city” – urges owner of new Darling Harbour ICC hotel

Jerry Schwartz, the owner of the newly announced five-star Sofitel hotel at Sydney’s International Convention Centre, has called on the state government to consider a helipad for the top of the Darling Harbour hotel. Dr Schwartz has also requested permission to incorporate permanent ‘vivid-style’ external lighting of the hotel to help animate the Darling Harbour precinct.

The proposals were put forward today at a press conference to announce that the Schwartz Family Company would fund the construction of the ICC Hotel, which will be branded a Sofitel and managed by Accor when it opens in Q2 2017.

217-DN-Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour2 300x225The 35 storey, 594 room Sofitel will be Sydney’s largest new hotel developed for over 20 years and will help break an accommodation drought that has existed in the city since the 2000 Olympics. The Sofitel will be an integral component of the new Darling Harbour convention and exhibition precinct that is currently under construction.

Dr Schwartz is one of Australia’s largest private hotel owners, with 1800 rooms currently operating in Sydney and a total of 13 hotels nationally, many of which are major convention hotels.

The proposed helipad on top of the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour would be close to where a previous helipad operated until the 1980s. Many comparable international convention cities have CBD helipads, including Melbourne, and Dr Schwartz believes that a city aiming to be a leading player in the international convention and exhibition market requires international infrastructure support.

“We applaud the NSW Government for their vision to re-generate the Darling Harbour precinct, and an ideal addition to the precinct would be a purpose-built helipad on top of the Sofitel to service the ICC and Sydney more widely,” said Dr Schwartz. “Such helipads are available in cities like New York, London and Melbourne, and it will significantly benefit Sydney’s business and convention profile to have a helipad developed at Darling Harbour.

217-DN-Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour4 300x225Construction of the 35 storey hotel is expected to start towards the end of 2014, and it is due for completion in the second quarter of 2017.

Construction of the new convention and exhibition centre is already underway, along with a number of other major infrastructure projects that are part of a $2.5 billion revitalisation of the precinct.

The (approximately) 600 room Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is being designed by internationally renowned Sydney architect Richard Francis-Jones, from Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp. The elegant 35 storey building will be dressed in a lacework curtainwall façade of glass, and will have panoramic harbour and city views from a range of large luxury rooms. It will include a rooftop club lounge, meeting rooms, ballroom and outdoor pool deck, as well as bars and restaurants with views of Darling Harbour and across the water to the CBD skyline.

Accor Pacific chief operating officer, Simon McGrath, said that the ICC Hotel is a milestone achievement for Sydney, and Accor is extremely proud to be selected to manage the landmark hotel among its growing luxury portfolio.

Announced on 26 August by the NSW Government and property and infrastructure group Lend Lease, Dr Schwartz signed a conditional agreement to purchase the ICC Hotel, to be developed by Lend Lease.

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