Revamp for Double Bay hotel loved by celebrities

It will take a group of Singaporean businessmen and about $20 million to return the polish to one of Sydney society's glittering jewels: the former Ritz Carlton hotel in Double Bay.

The hotel at 33 Cross Street is soon to become InterContinental Sydney Double Bay. Its new owner, Singaporean-based Royal Hotels and the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), signed a management agreement on Tuesday for the 140-room hotel.

Royal Hotels, which paid an estimated $58 million for the property, will undertake a multimillion-dollar refurbishment of all guest rooms and public areas. It will reopen in January as the chain's fifth property in Australia. About 100 staff will be employed.

It will be a much-needed boost for once prestigious Double Bay, which has been plagued by empty shops and increased competition from the redevelopment of Westfield's malls at Bondi Junction and in the city.

Built in 1991 as the Ritz Carlton Double Bay, the hotel established a reputation as the place to stay for celebrities such as Princess Diana, Madonna, and Bob Hawke, who married Blanche D'Alpuget there in 1995.

It was also where Michael Hutchence hanged himself in 1997.

It was rebranded as the Stamford in 2001, but closed in 2009 amid plans for redevelopment, which were plagued with controversy and setbacks.

Previous owner Scarborough Pacific Group, backed by British property mogul Kevin McCabe and the Alter family, had been trying to sell the site for a year and a half.

In recent years, the hotel has become a bone of contention for locals, known as a venue for all-night dance parties, prostitution rackets and even Russian cabaret dinners.

Australian architects Bates Smart have been appointed by Royal Hotels to restore the hotel.

It will have a ballroom for up to 300 guests, an all-day restaurant, Club InterContinental, cafe, lounge and bar, rooftop pool and bar and underground parking.

A ground floor arcade will be developed, which is expected to include a health club or day spa as well as shops.

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