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Sydney's first luxury hotel just turned 50

The champagne corks were popping in Sydney’s CBD last night as AccorHotels celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel - Sydney’s first five-star hotel.

The champagne corks were popping in Sydney’s CBD last night as AccorHotels celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel – Sydney’s first five-star hotel.

Welcoming the 300 guests, hotel manager Craig Reaume took the opportunity to share a little of the hotel’s rich history. The first Wentworth Hotel was built on that spot, in some form or another, since 1885 when it was named after newspaper owner William Charles Wentworth.

Mel Doyle and Sofitel Sydney Wentworth GM Craig Reaume

Mel Doyle and Sofitel Sydney Wentworth GM Craig Reaume

However, it was rebuilt in 1966 as Sydney’s first luxury hotel and had a number of names before AccorHotels made it a Sofitel in 2002 and gave it the current name.

“It has played host to a number of celebrities including Queen Elizabeth II, Aud Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Sophia Loren and numerous heads of state and prime ministers,” Reaume told the crowd.

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He also highlighted the role of the hotel’s staff in making it a success.

“The people truly make this hotel what it is much more than bricks and mortar,” he said.

“We have a highly trained and dedicated team of thousands.”

Chief operating officer Simon McGrath also took to the stage to highlight the hotel’s ongoing importance in the AccorHotels network and the tourism industry as a whole.

“It’s an iconic property within the Accor network throughout the Pacific and the world,” he said.

And even though, the company has recently added the Raffles’ luxury portfolio to its network, this hotel still “takes rightful place as one of the leaders in that network,” he added.

We learnt a few things about this luxury property last night that we didn’t already know – so we thought we’d share them!

 

Prince Charles and Princess Diana took a twirl on the hotel’s dance floor.

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While the nanny was upstairs looking after a 10-month old Prince William during the Royal Visit in 1983, Charles span Di around the ballroom. And as the story has it, she became quite dizzy. That hardwood dancefloor is now heritage protected and is kept safe and sound under the current layer of carpet.

 

Bill Gates once left an IOU at the front desk when he forgot his wallet

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Yes, that’s right – one of the world’s richest men had a bit of an embarrassing moment upon check-out.

 

The hotel was originally named the Qantas Wentworth Hotel

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The hotel was originally conceived, planned and built by Qantas back in 1966 when there was a need for five-star accommodation and service in Sydney for its passengers.

 

The hotel’s longest serving member of staff has been there for 41 years

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth longest serving employees Claude Stein and Shirley Robins

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth longest serving employees Claude Stein and Shirley Robins

Claude Stein has been working in the Sofitel’s Garden Court restaurant for an impressive 41 years – that’s nearly the entire lifespan of the hotel. Chief concierge Mark Peyton is not far behind with 36 years of service. Then there is Shirley Robins of the accounts team with 29 years under her belt, Rosa Tucker of banqueting with 28 years and the kitchen’s Mao Hau who also been there for 28 years. They must like working there!

 

Have you ever stayed at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth?