What do Australia’s first Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Lizard Island in Far North Queensland, Gaia Retreat & Spa in Byron Bay and Cape Lodge in Margaret River, Western Australia, and fabled bootmaker R.M. Williams all have in common? They’re all owned by billionaire couple Andrew and Nicola Forrest. Having dropped more than half a billion dollars on “the planned high-end Waldorf Astoria hotel at Sydney’s Circular Quay precinct”, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Forrest purchase will be a part of the broader $3.1 billion One Circular Quay project.
Wait, they paid how much, and it’s not even built yet? Wowza. Anyway, let’s see what they bought.
Snapped up in a deal worth a suggested AUD$575 million, the lucrative exchange from Lendlease and its joint venture partner Mitsubishi Estate Asia will see the “empty crater” of the former Gold Fields House developed into a new hotel tower – right next to another 59-level luxury residential tower – designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates. Notable for The Exchange in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, designs for the 220-room (179 guest rooms, 41 suites) Waldorf Astoria Sydney hotel will see the location join a collection of over 30 Waldorf Astoria hotels worldwide, each a spin-off of the legendary original Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Instead of looking out onto Park Avenue, guests of the Waldorf Astoria Sydney will gaze upon unrivalled panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Then, once you’re done with the view, you’ll be offered all the trimmings that come with the name Waldorf Astoria, including fine dining options, a rooftop bar, ballroom and function spaces, boardrooms, an indoor pool and the Waldorf Astoria Spa. Also making its debut in Australia is Peacock Alley, a signature space for the Waldorf Astoria brand of hotels. It serves as a central gathering place for the estate and the location of the iconic Waldorf Astoria clock, which pays homage to the history of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.
According to a press release from Tattarang, the investment arm of the Forrest family, the deal “ensures one of Australia’s most iconic sites, and the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Circular Quay is secured in Australian hands.” Highlight the “globally-unique and instantly recognisable location” that is Circular Quay, Nicola Forrest believes “this development can play an important role in the future rejuvenation of the wider Circular Quay precinct, and we are committed to engaging with Lendlease and the surrounding community towards an even brighter future for Australia’s gateway city.”
It’s a sentiment that was shared by Lendlease’s Tom Mackellar. The company’s managing director of development said building Australia’s first Waldorf Astoria alongside One Circular Quay positions the “precinct to become one of the most desired places to live and stay in the world”. Dubbed “a major milestone for the precinct’s revitalisation,” Tom believes the project is “one step closer to transforming the centrepiece of Sydney’s spectacular harbour”. Waldorf Astoria Sydney is expected to open in late 2026.
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