Olivia Newton-John quietly slipped into Sydney yesterday to serve as the secret ribbon cutter for tonight’s relaunch of Star City following a landmark $1 billion redevelopment.
The Australian showbiz icon was chosen from a long list of international names after main attraction Lionel Richie withdrew from the glamorous gala, which will officially rebrand the casino as The Star.
It is believed that Olivia arrived on one of the two private jets that have been bought by the Pyrmont gaming mecca to ferry in high-rolling punters from around the world.
“As much as what’s happening with the refurb seems very Las Vegas, it’s still very Sydney and very Australian – she (Newton-John) was a fitting choice,” said an insider.
Olivia will appear at the reopening with Larry Mullin, the CEO of Echo Entertainment Group, which owns The Star and instigated the facelift – the biggest in Sydney’s history. Guests will board a yacht at Campbells Cove in Circular Quay and sail over to see The Star’s grand new harbourfront entrance.
After a short cocktail soiree outside, the crowd of about 250 will head up the mountainous marble staircase for a sit-down dinner at either Balla or BLACK By Ezard , two of the venue’s new waterfront restaurants.
All part of a pitch by Star City – next week to be officially relaunched as The Star – to become the new dominant force in the $60 billion Australian high-rollers casino scene, The Star is putting blackjack and baccarat tables on the penthouse floor of its opulent new Darling Hotel.
In total, The Star is spending $160 million just on winning over high-rollers. By next year, there will be private gaming facilities on the top floor of its newly renovated main building and two private aircraft to bring those known in the industry as “whales” to Sydney from Asia. But The Star does not just want the high-rollers. It has embarked on a $1 billion spending spree to bring a touch of Vegas to Sydney that by 2013 will include a 3000-seat events centre to host top international music acts.
The new casino will employ 1000 hospitality staff, while 1500 construction workers were employed over the past three years on revamping the casino. It is predicted the newly-expanded casino will contribute more than $250 million a year in state taxes by mid-2012.
(read more at dailytelegraph.com.au)