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The weird and the wonderful

The weird and the wonderful 

Saucy tales, exotic opulence and the odd celebrity demise: the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains sits alongside the Hotel Ritz Paris, Raffles Singapore and Claridge’s London as a legendary haven of mischief and luxury.

The status of the original Blue Mountains party palace, the Hydro Majestic, as the grandest-of-the-grand hotel in the region was restored after its latest $35 million refurbishment in October 2014.

The spectacular Casino Lobby was stripped back to show off that stupendous dome prefabricated in Chicago and imported by original Hydro Majestic owner, eccentric department store baron Mark Foy.

The Wintergarden Restaurant, where one takes high tea (traditional or Eastern), is bedecked in understated gold and white elegance with enormous windows giving a breathtaking view over the Megalong Valley.

There’s the Majestic Ballroom with its beautiful vaulted ceiling, the revamped Boiler House Cafe in the old pump house, and the sophistication of black and chrome in the Belgravia accommodation lounge.

But the best way to appreciate the full magnificence of the Hydro Majestic, the building and its sublime location is to stroll along the (in)famous Cat’s Alley hallway, cocktail in hand, and watch the sunset over the Megalong Valley illuminate the blood-red walls, peacock feathers and sumptuous lounges.

BREAKOUT: “With regular festivals and events including the Roaring 20s Festival, the Hydro Majestic is once again a hot ticket”

Foy was a visionary who created the hotel on a mountain top against all odds. Soon the fortunate, the famous, the fabulous, and even the infamous, flocked to the Hydro Majestic from around the globe.

There’s always something on

With regular festivals and events including the Roaring 20s Festival in February, the Hydro Majestic is once again the most flamboyant showgirl of Australia’s first tourist destination.

Fine dining is back on point with dishes such as Creole-style braised short rib, southern grits, collard greens and corn tamarillo salsa.
The recipes obviously originate from distant shores, but feature ingredients sourced from within a 100-kilometre radius. The Hydro Majestic represents the modern face and cuisine of Australia – as it has for more than a century.

Thanks to the ebullient Foy, the Hydro Majestic has always embraced cultural diversity – not because its first owner was politically correct, but because he genuinely loved people of all races and their culture, art and food.

One could say that what is outrageous today has always been normal at the Hydro Majestic. After all, Foy was a man who liked to dress in his wife’s clothing and regularly held cross-dressing parties for his interesting assortment of friends.

The whimsical, rich and well-travelled Foy had the famous hotel dome prefabricated in Chicago and shipped to Australia. Dr George Baur of the Shoeneck health spa in Switzerland devised a program of diets and weird and wonderful water and steam treatments – hence the “Hydro”. Turkish coffee was served by Turkish waiters, Chinese tea by Chinese waiters.

Louie “Charlie’’ Goh Mong was just one of many Chinese migrants who reverted to their traditional skills post-Gold Rush era around the turn of the 20th century and worked as butlers, cooks, nannies, maids and produce suppliers to inns, guesthouses and manor houses across the Blue Mountains during that time.

Charlie worked as a cook at Foy’s Sydney home and managed the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for 35 years.

Today, staff from 16 language groups work at the Hydro Majestic including English, French, Canadian, Russian, Chinese (all dialects), Portuguese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Italian, Indonesian, Thai and more. As an internationally renowned destination with people visiting from all over the world, Hydro Majestic staff strive to accommodate all cultural needs.

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