Ritz-Carlton’s Sydney return edges closer

by James Wilkinson

The Star Entertainment Group has lodged a development application with the NSW Department of Planning for a hotel tower that will herald the return of the famed Ritz-Carlton brand to Sydney.

The proposed hotel and residences tower at The Star Sydney complex, together with works in a connected ribbon development, will include new resort amenities, significantly more food and beverage offerings and a neighbourhood centre.

The Star is partnering with Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium on the project, which will involve an investment of more than AUD$500 million.

Acclaimed architects FJMT, led by Richard Francis-Jones, won a Design Excellence Competition in December 2016 to secure the rights to design the tower.

Features for The Ritz-Carlton hotel include a Sky Lobby, complete with a publicly-accessible signature restaurant with stunning harbour views, and a rooftop terrace.

The new development will sit wholly within the existing footprint of The Star Sydney and bring further exciting new facilities to the burgeoning Pyrmont-Darling Harbour-Barangaroo precinct.

It will support the new Sydney International Convention Centre and help connect Darling Harbour to the Sydney Fishmarket and The Bays Precinct.

The Star Entertainment Group CEO, Matt Bekier, said the development will deliver significant benefits to the local community, Sydney as a destination of choice for domestic and international visitors, and the Australian tourism sector more generally.

“This country is experiencing significant growth in inbound tourism, an upward trend which shows all the hallmarks of continuing well into the future,” he said.

“Forecasts suggest Australia’s current visitation of around 8.3 million international visitors per annum will rise to 15 million a year inside a decade.

“To cater for that demand, we need the necessary tourism infrastructure. Sydney lacks sufficient high-end hotels to meet this wave of international tourist demand, led by the rapidly expanding wealthy Chinese middle-class demographic.

“By moving to close the shortfall in supply, we can ensure we don’t miss an opportunity that offers considerable economic benefit to this city and this State.

“Bringing a world-renowned brand like The Ritz-Carlton to The Star Sydney will further embed our reputation as a tourism and entertainment destination of global appeal.

“It will also help bolster Sydney’s position in a highly-competitive regional and international market and provide national impetus as well. Australia currently attracts just 1% of China’s international outbound travellers.

“We look forward to receiving the necessary approval, allowing us to proceed with Chow Tai Fook and Far East with whom we’re already partnering on transformational projects at Queen’s Wharf Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast.”

Bekier said the local Pyrmont community had also been included and consulted throughout the Sydney process.

“As a company, we take pride in fostering and supporting the communities in which we operate,” he said. “From the outset of this planning process more than two years ago we have engaged the Pyrmont community and kept the wider precinct updated.

“We have run community consultation sessions, took our community’s feedback seriously, and altered our designs accordingly prior to lodging these plans and entering a public exhibition period.

“We are proud to include in the development a Pyrmont Neighbourhood Centre over five levels with a proposed social enterprise café, reading room, function space, collaboration hub and rooftop terrace.

“There will also be improved visibility and access to the light rail station under The Star.”

The Ritz-Carlton exited Sydney a decade ago after operating hotels in Double Bay and Macquarie Street in the CBD.