The Wolgan Valley Association has responded to the announcement that Emirates 'One and Only' Wolgan resort will be closing indefinitely.
The luxury resort - north of Lithgow - announced it would be closing indefinitely, citing the ongoing challenges of access to the Wolgan Valley after a major landslip closed the only access road in November last year.
Since the landslip, a temporary road known as 'the Donkey Steps' has been constructed, but is only accessible by four-wheel drive, is weather dependent and has a steep gradient of 32 per cent.
According to General Manager of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Tim Stanhope, the descent into the valley made it "untenable to continue supplying utilities and equipment" for the resort to run smoothly in winter.
"We are never prepared to compromise on our guests' experiences, therefore, due to these circumstances, the resort will unfortunately need to temporarily close its doors for the foreseeable future, effective 9 June 2023 until these issues can be fully resolved," Mr Stanhope said in a statement.
The closure of the resort is another blow to the struggling businesses in the valley, said President of the Wolgan Valley Association Martin Krogh.
"We're all feeling extremely sad that it's come to that situation," Mr Krogh said.
"Any of the businesses that have a link to One and Only are going to be in an even worse situation."
"Small businesses have been doing it extremely tough, because we have difficulty getting people into the valley, particularly if they don't have a four-wheel drive."
Mr Krogh said the closure of the resort signifies the urgency for a permanent road solution for the valley.
"The question is going to be the time delay between getting a completed design and then getting all the preparatory work done such as an EIS and passing through all the approvals," Mr Krogh said.
"That's probably going to be the slow part and it's something only state government in conjunction with the council can speed up."
Mr Krogh said that businesses are going to need to adapt if possible, due to the time it could take to restore access to the valley.
"Everybody is still doing it really tough, and we are going to have to continue this way until we can actually get a new road, which could be four years into the future," Mr Krogh said.
"Everybody is just in a holding pattern right now, and the longer it takes to get a new road- the longer that goes on.
"I hope nobody else has to close down completely, like Emirates has."
Mayor of Lithgow Maree Statham said she was "extremely disappointed" to hear the announcement of the resort closure.
"This closure is a clear demonstration of the protracted and significant effects of natural disasters throughout our region. The challenge for the Wolgan community will be particularly protracted," Ms Statham said.
"We are focused on supporting that community for years to come, until a new road is built and their lives are restored. Meanwhile, we call for more support for residents and businesses from all levels of government."
According to the statement from Mr Stanhope, the resort team are continuing to liaise with Lithgow City Council to come to a solution.
"We sincerely regret this difficult situation, and want to reassure that the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley team is working closely with all our guests, neighbours and colleagues to manage this situation as seamlessly as possible," Mr Stanhope said.
"As ever, the safety and wellbeing of our guests and colleagues remains our utmost priority, and we are doing everything in our power to navigate these circumstances."
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