Hotel mogul launches solar farm in coal country

Multimillionaire cosmetic surgeon and Australia’s largest private hotel owner Jerry Schwartz has embarked on a new project – a $10 million solar farm in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Hotel mogul launches solar farm in coal country

Jerry Schwartz at his solar farm in the Hunter Valley. Photo: Supplied

The farm, which has been in the works since 2016, will be up and running in November with a capacity of 5000 megawatts powered by 13,350 panels.

It’s next door to the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, the troubled hotel Dr Schwartz bought in 2012 for about $45 million after it languished on the market for two years.

The energy generated will fully power the hotel, as well as the conference and events centre and brewery that are on the Crowne Plaza site, Dr Schwartz said.

Excess power will initially be sold to the grid before eventually contributing to the power supplied to his other hotels in NSW.

Dr Schwartz owns several Sydney properties including Sofitel Darling Harbour, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney at Central Park, Rydges World Square and Hotel Ibis King Street Wharf as well as Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains.

He is worth $554 million, according to this year’s Financial Review Rich List, which ranks him as the 178th wealthiest person in the country.

Dr Schwartz said sustainability best-practice needed to be at the heart of all hotels’ operations and, with the possibility of more than 1000 people at the Hunter Valley venue at one time, a solar farm was the obvious solution to meeting the property’s energy needs.

“It is particularly important to showcase renewable energy in the heart of a region still known for its coal mining,” Dr Schwartz said.

“Tourism is the sustainable industry of the future for the Hunter Valley, and to have the hotel, convention centre and brewery fully powered by renewable energy is an important initiative.”

Dr Schwartz recently diversified his property portfolio beyond hotels.

Earlier this month he bought an industrial site at Banksmeadow in Sydney’s south, with plans to convert it into a coolroom and warehouse to store and distribute the beer made at his Hunter Valley brewery.

Last year he bought the historic Newcastle Post Office building for $3.5 million with plans to transform it into a function centre with wedding retail outlets on the ground floor and an Aboriginal cultural centre on the basement level.

At the beginning of 2019 he made his first foray into the Queensland hotel market, paying $70 million for the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel.