Pictures | Illawarra Catholic Club acquires century-old guesthouse originally named The California | County Leader of St George and Sutherland
Members of Club Central Hurstville and Menai received a stake in a wonderful slice of Blue Mountains heritage.
The Illawarra Catholic Club (ICC), which operates the two clubs, has acquired the century-old Katoomba guesthouse, originally named The California.
The building, which offers sweeping views of the Jamison Valley, is clad in California redwood and was constructed with silver from the California gold fields.
It was renamed The Mountain Heritage in 1991 after its first major renovation and has won several tourist awards.
Now known as the Mountain Heritage Hotel, the 43-room hotel offers a mix of rooms, suites and villas and “offers the unique combination of a 4.5-star stay, enriched by the charm of yesteryear. of the 1900’s hotel structure and a breathtaking view of the Jamison Valley”.
ICC has also acquired another Blue Mountains tourist accommodation property – luxury self-catering apartments, the Falls Mountain Retreat, in Wentworth Falls.
This is described as “a 4.5 star contemporary oasis nestled on four acres of lush surroundings on the edge of the national park. Fully self-contained one and two bedroom apartment suites are equipped with full kitchens and laundries and offer a Blue Mountain Experience”.
ICC purchased the facilities to broaden its investment base. Staff have been retained and club members may be offered discounted stays in the future.
Most of the properties belonged to the Crockett group.
The California was largely derelict when the Crockett family purchased her in 1979, but she has been rejuvenated and her legacy protected through continued investment and loving care.
ICC Group Managing Director Paul Richardson said they were proud and honored to have been entrusted by Garry Crockett of The Crockett Group with the responsibility of looking after the properties in the future.
“There is no doubt that the hospitality and travel industries have been hit hard over the past couple of years,” Mr Richardson said.
“However, the talented and committed team at the Mountain Heritage Hotel and Falls Mountain Retreat have ensured the properties are ready to welcome guests emerging from COVID-enforced isolation to explore the best that the Blues have to offer. Mountains have to offer.
“We are thrilled to be the new custodians and look forward to continuing to offer our guests a balanced blend of history, first-class service and modern conveniences.”
The Mountain Heritage Hotel has a rich history.
In September 1935, The Sydney Morning Herald described it as “the largest and most lavish guest house in the Southern Hemisphere, with hot and cold water in every room, a neon-lit ballroom, in-house entertainment and live orchestra permanent”.
Guests included stars of stage and screen, as well as business and political leaders.
During the Second World War the property was taken over by the Home Office to provide accommodation for female munitions workers at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory.
It was later purchased by the Federal Government to house British naval personnel and their families who were recruited by the Australian Navy to work on the new aircraft carriers HMAS Sydney and HMAS Melbourne. During this time, the property was renamed The Naval Guesthouse.