Kerrie and Mike Stephenson
More than a view out the window, or the flash cocktail that you have in the bar or even the king size bed – hotels are about stories.
By Benjamen Judd
They can be stories of discoveries, about laughter and sometimes even about loss. But a lot of the time they’re about love.
It was a story about love that we were lucky enough to share in with two guests –Kerrie and Mike Stephenson – when they recently stayed with us.
As luck – or fate – would have it, Kerrie and Mike were no strangers to the Pitt Street Hotel when they arrived at the Primus Hotel Sydney for a weekend getaway. Although it may look a little different to how they remembered it…
Kerrie and Mike met while working at the original Sydney Water Board. As a surprise to Mike, Kerrie organised a romantic stay to celebrate their anniversary at the reincarnated space that originally brought them together.
The pair was gracious enough to talk to us of their experiences – both at the Water Board and their stay at Primus Hotel Sydney.
How did you and your husband both originally meet?
I worked on the sixth floor and Mike worked on the fifth floor. It was organised by one of the guys I worked with who was a mate of Mike’s.
Rumour has it you wore the same dress to the hotel you did on your first date?
Yes! I still have the John and Merivale dress I wore on our first date, which was at the Dixon Restaurant and then the movies. The name of the movie was Klute.
Did this give your husband a clue as to what to expect?
No, I kept it a secret until we started walking up Bathurst Street. Mike happened to say are you taking me back to the Water Board. I pretended not to hear and kept walking. So he was very surprised to see the old building had changed into a hotel.
What was your first impression upon walking in and seeing the renovated Water Board spaces?
Very impressed. It has been finished with great detail in keeping with it’s Art Deco era of design. We had a beautiful room with a luxury bathroom.
What were some of the biggest differences to the original space?
The stairs which I ran down after finishing work were glassed in for emergency purposes. But the best feature was to retain the existing marble finishes. An open foyer with the glass brick skylight in the original light well above it were original features and desks covered the front area during the 1970’s.
The memorabilia on the mezzanine was a nice touch but before our era of working there. The seventh floor (now the sixth floor) was the medical and water testing area where showers were used after playing sport. The roof where basketball was played now has a great pool and bar area. We would never have got any work done if they were there in the old days!
What was the original Water Board building like? Do you have any stories about the space?
It was a very social place to work with lots of parties going on every weekend. The Water Board was a great training ground to establish your career; they were very thorough in training their staff. Sport was always popular – football, cricket, basketball, netball and volleyball. Basketball was played on the roof and at the YMCA across the road – a basketball was once thrown accidentally over the cyclone wire fence on the roof luckily missing anyone below eight floors down!
Was it a peculiar experience to come to a place you once worked to spend the night in celebration?
Yes, we were treated like royalty by the staff and we had a delicious dinner and breakfast.
It brought back a lot of memories of the fun times when we first went out. We were both quite emotional about our nostalgic return to where our relationship began. Many other couples met and married from employment at the Water Board.
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