Emirates Airline today commenced the development of the US$69 million luxury Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia’s Blue Mountains, a project that will see the transformation of 4,000 acres of distressed farming land into a high-value conservation site.
Today’s ceremony is the result of two years of planning, investment and approval processes and marks the beginning of Emirates’ first resort project outside of Dubai.
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is the second conservation-focussed property within the expanding portfolio of Emirates Hotels & Resorts - the premier hospitality division of Emirates Airline.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group turned the soil at the property with New South Wales Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Matt Brown Minister of Parliament; Mr Kerry Bartlett Minister of Parliament, Federal Member for Macquarie; New South Wales Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, the Honourable Philip Koperberg Minister of Parliament; Federal Shadow Minister for Transport, Roads and Tourism, the Honourable Martin Ferguson Minister of Parliament; and local member and former Lithgow Mayor, Gerard Martin Minister of Parliament.
Two per cent of the 4,000 acres will be used to create an exclusive resort of 40 free-standing suites and a main homestead that will feature fine dining, a Timeless Spa, pool area and conference facilities. The remaining land will be progressively restored to its natural state with the reintroduction of native fauna and flora.
Sheikh Ahmed and the local dignitaries planted a Wollemi Pine as the first of tens of thousands of trees that will help regenerate the Valley. The Wollemi Pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants that was discovered deep in the neighbouring Wollemi National Park.
Commencing the formalities, representatives of the Wiradjuri people performed a traditional ceremony to prepare the site for its new use.
Sheikh Ahmed welcomed guests to the ceremony drawn from local communities, government, media and the travel industry. He was accompanied to the Wolgan Valley by a delegation from Emirates including Ghaith Al Ghaith, Executive Vice President Commercial Operations Worldwide; Hans Haensel, Divisional Senior Vice President, Destination and Leisure Management; Ali Mubarak Al Soori, Divisional Senior Vice President, Chairman's Office, Facilities, Projects Management and Procurement and Logistics (Non-Airline); Tony Williams, Vice President Resorts and Projects; and Joost Heymeijer, Manager Hotel Projects, Australia.
Sheikh Ahmed welcomed the beginning of construction: “We are delighted to see this project taking shape after many years of careful planning. The search for this location began in 2004 and we are now well on our way to making Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa an important asset for Australian tourism, the local community and Emirates.”
In late 2009 the resort will welcome its first guests, some 70 per cent of whom are expected to be international visitors to Australia.
Guests were treated to a preview of the resort’s world-class hospitality, sitting down to a luncheon featuring regional produce in a specially erected marquee on the future site of the main homestead.
Environmental considerations feature prominently in the plan for the resort including 100 per cent water recycling, green power and a strict waste management system.
Emirates has also worked closely with National Parks and Wildlife Service on a conservation plan to protect and conserve the heritage value of the property, including wildlife and threatened species such as the spotted-tailed quoll.
The luxury development is anticipated to positively impact the local economy, generating 100 jobs and increased local and international tourism to the area.
Emirates Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa was the airline’s first conservation-focussed property. The resort is recognised internationally for its leadership and contributions to conservation in the region, and is among the Condé Nast Traveller’s Top 20-Hotel List. The success of Al Maha is being used as the basis for designs and operations in the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa and the Emirates Cap Ternay Resort & Spa in the Seychelles; currently in its design and planning phase, and promising to shape up as one of the Indian Oceans’ best resorts.