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The first Sofitel in Sydney

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In 2004, almost 40 years after it was built, the Wentworth Hotel would again open its doors under a new name, the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. It was to be a new five-star hotel for Sydney for the 21st century.

French hotel group Accor assumed management of the hotel in 2002 and undertook an extensive $50 million refurbishment while operating the hotel under its existing name. The changes from the old Wentworth were dramatic and the interiors of the hotel were completely transformed, with redesigned rooms, an impressive new foyer and entrance, and new guest facilities.

Accor brought its own signature style to the property, creating a warm, chic atmosphere with an emphasis on comfort and refined décor. A specially developed Sofitel MyBed was added to each room, along with flat screen televisions, high-speed internet access, fluffy bathrobes and luxurious bathroom amenities. Mr Clive Scott was appointed as General Manager of the new Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, and was in place to oversee the refurbishments. Mr Scott joined the hotel with more than 25 years experience in the industry, having managed hotels throughout the world. “With the planned impressive refurbishment program I’m looking forward to returning the hotel to its rightful place as one of Sydney’s leading deluxe hotels,”he said. Mr Scott is still with the Sofitel family and is now the General Manager of the Sofitel Melbourne On Collins.

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth played a key part in Accor’s global expansion objectives, giving the group a premier five-star brand in Australia’s most important business and tourism centre. The hotel joined three existing Sofitels in Australia, Sofitel Melbourne (also originally branded a Wentworth hotel), The Grand Hotel Melbourne and Sofitel Reef Casino in Cairns. The property also became part of a prestigious global network of more than 180 Sofitel hotels and resorts, all in incredible locations and offering guests the luxurious décor, fine artwork, world-class cuisine and outstanding service that encompass the brand’s unique French art de vivre.

Chairman of Accor Asia Pacific, David Baffsky, said at the time “the addition of the Sofitel in Sydney has been one of the highest priorities of Accor. We have been approached about many projects in the past, but the Wentworth was worth waiting for because it presented a unique opportunity, given its location, its history and the exciting refurbishment plans.”

Under the Sofitel name, Sydney’s most famous hotel would go through the most incredible transformation in its history. The property would be imbued with the quintessential French elegance of the brand and embrace its ‘Life is Magnifique’ philosophy. It began with an extravagant Gala Grand opening in September 2004 that featured dancers from the famed Moulin Rouge in Paris on their first-ever official visit to Australia. More than 20 dancers and performers put on four exclusive shows to launch the rebranded hotel with Australia’s best-known celebrities, athletes and politicians flooding the ballroom to celebrate Sofitel’s arrival in the city.

From the first day as the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, the hotel offered guests a distinctive French experience. As they stepped inside the hotel they would be enveloped in the brand’s specially designed fragrance and greeted with Sofitel’s signature ‘Bonjour’.

Throughout the hotel, passionate chefs and bartenders created modern specialties that blended traditional French techniques with the best local produce. As part of the brand’s focus on art de vivre, the hotel established itself as the city’s hotel of the arts, partnering with organisations like the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Australian
Chamber Orchestra and Bell Shakespeare.

In 2014 the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth celebrated its 10th anniversary, which coincided with the global celebrations for Sofitel’s 50th anniversary. Three core themes ran through the festivities, highlighting the stylish French ambience of the brand – design, gastronomy and culture. Along with other Sofitel properties around Australia, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth commissioned an exhibition of images of Paris to pay homage to the brand’s origins. The show, titled Iconic Paris by Jon Rendell, featured black and white images taken in the city between 1978 and 1987 by Melbourne-born, San Francisco-based photographer Rendell. The exhibition was on display at the hotel from 3 September to 5 October, 2014.

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