From the day it opened its doors, the Wentworth has been the hotel of choice for celebrities, dignitaries and royalty visiting Sydney. Some have spent the night while others have stopped by for a gala event or business meetings, taking advantage of the hotel’s plush surrounds.
Prince Philip was the first royal guest, staying at the Wentworth in March 1967 to open a
Commonwealth Study Conference and present the Duke of Edinburgh awards. The Queen has visited four times and both her sons have also been guests. In November 1969 the most famous astronauts in the world, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, spent three days in the hotel at the culmination of their historic world tour. Huge crowds followed the men through the streets, eager to catch a glimpse of the first people to set foot on the moon. Pope Pius VI addressed a crowd of thousands in the ballroom in 1971.
The Sultan of Brunei, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, US Vice Presidents George Bush, Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockerfeller, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and a host of presidents, premiers and political VIPs have chosen the Wentworth, along with stars like Shirley Maclaine, Johnny Cash, Marlon Brando, Frederick Forsyth, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.
In 1983 Princes Charles and Princess Diana (along with baby William) undertook their first official tour of Australia and New Zealand. The royal couple danced in the hotel’s ballroom for the Benevolent Society’s charity ball on March 28. The morning after, Charles famously went for a highly photographed swim at Bondi Beach.
The inaugural ARIA Awards were held at the hotel in 1987. John Farnham won six awards on the night and a little band called Crowded House was chosen as best new talent.
In 2011, Australia’s own royalty, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and her husband Crown Prince Frederik, visited the hotel for an environmental conference. Princess Mary even donned a chef’s hat and joined in a cooking demonstration with the Sofitel’s executive chef Boris Cuzon.
Ten years behind schedule and almost $100 million over budget, Sydney’s iconic Opera House was finally completed in 1973. Queen Elizabeth II was invited to formally open the house on October 20, 1973, and hundreds of thousands of people lined the harbour foreshore to witness the landmark event.
Protocol dictated that the Queen and Prince Philip must stay at Admiralty House, the residence of the Governor-General, but her entourage stayed at Sydney’s finest hotel, The Wentworth. Chief Concierge Tony Facciolo recalled the morning of the opening, with the royal party along with a host of dignitaries and local officials in the lobby waiting for a fleet of limousines to take them to the Opera House.
That night, once the formalities had been completed, a huge party was held in the ballroom of the Wentworth.
According to Mr Facciolo, it was the biggest party ever to be held at the hotel with more than 1,400 guests including dignitaries from around the world and many hundreds of excited Sydneysiders.