Australian hotel owner Dr Jerry Schwartz knows what it takes to have a bit of fun and succeed in business.
Looking more like a 1970s rock star than a businessman, Schwartz is far from being a stereotyped wealthy resort owner.
Rarely would anyone see the long-haired mogul in business attire, the quietly spoken Schwartz preferring to swap a suit and a tie for clothing more suitable to holidaying at one of his holiday retreats. He has even been known to jump into a swimming pool fully clothed at an event.
Such is the magnitude of his company’s portfolio a personalised monopoly board was created featuring the 14 hotels and resorts under his wing - and more.
The always active Schwartz has not only built up his company’s list of properties. The family man has added a few kids’ friendly attractions that are close to his family’s heart.
Inspired by his wife Debbie and school age children, Dane and twins Amber and Lara, Schwartz, who continues to be a practising surgeon at his Matraville cosmetic surgery in Sydney, has transformed some of his resorts into giant playgrounds.
Ice skating rinks, miniature train rides, giant water parks, pony rides and cinemas have either already opened or are in the planning at such resorts as Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast, Rydges Hunter Valley, and the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains.
On the more serious note, he has taken a well-planned approach to meeting the career needs of staff, present and future.
In one of his latest pet projects, the mercurial entrepreneur teamed up with Newcastle University to address the hospitality skills shortage by establishing a new training academy to offer courses in IT, spa therapy, brewing as well as hospitality.
Sustainability is also a hot topic, so much so that he built a solar farm at Lovedale in the NSW Hunter Valley as a source of energy for his hotels and other businesses.
As owner of so many properties across three states and the ACT, Schwartz is head of the largest privately-owned hotel group in Australia (4,000 rooms), the jewel in the crown being the luxurious Sofitel Darling Harbour.
His other properties are:
Schwartz also owns the award-winning Sydney Brewery in Surry Hills and in the Hunter Valley, the purpose-built Hunter Valley Conference and Events Centre, Blue Sky Airways (charter services between Sydney and the Hunter) and is a part owner of Rose Bay’s Sydney Seaplanes.
He has been active in hosting three annual fun filled events – Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival, Hunter Valley Wine and Beer Festival, and the Gold Coast Beer and Cider Festival – and supporting charity drives through the Schwartz Foundation.
Schwartz may seem eccentric, but there’s no doubting the passion, dedication, and determination of the quirky director of the Schwartz Family Company – it was founded by his immigrant Hungarian-born parents, the late Bela and Eve - as he goes about his business buying properties at a significant discount and refurbishing them into something more appealing to guests.
During a visit to the newly rebranded Rydges Sydney Central in Albion Street, Surry Hills, Schwartz pointed out how a corner of unused space was converted into a profitable 50-seat cinema, often booked for kids’ parties, movie nights and private screenings. It’s the only cinema found in an Australian hotel.
Although the company employs an estimated 2,200, growth is inevitable through such projects as the restoration of the historic Newcastle Post Office – it will house a gallery, shops, and café – and another brewery in Newcastle.
His planned private Hunter Hospitality School will be established in another of his properties - in Newcastle’s Honeysuckle district – and will undoubtedly be added to the family monopoly board.
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