BEKL to refurbish Geelong Conference Centre as boutique retreat

The 1.6 hectare site, within Eastern Park, abuts East Geelong Golf Club.

BEKL – formerly known as Amazon Property Group – intends to create a retreat-style boutique hotel out of the Geelong Conference Centre, which it acquired from The Salvation Army for c$6.4 million in March.

The landlord said it expects to appoint an operator later this year.

The Salvation Army utilised Geelong Conference Centre to occupy and as an investment since buying it for $2.35m in 1994.

Its refurbishment, managing director Katherine Liu said pointing to Tourism Australia figures, will focus on capturing the wellness market – which “has grown at 7.6 per cent per annum over the past five years”

That growth rate is twice that of tourism as a whole, the executive added.

Some 900,000 visitors were engaged in 2018, according to the government.

“We identified a huge gap in the market, given the [Geelong] region is lacking in small, high quality accommodation providers with a focus on experiential accommodation, especially where wellness is concerned,” Ms Liu said.

“The development will herald the return of this venue as a significant economic asset for the region and a key destination for locals and visitors alike”.

Third chapter opens for Geelong Conference Centre

The 1.6 hectare site at 20 Adams Court, East Geelong was designed by McGlashan Everist as a bush retreat 39 years ago (story continues below).

The Salvation Army paid $2.35m in 1994, utilising it for both owner occupation and as an investment, until offering it for sale vacant in March to direct proceeds into other initiatives.

With 4500 square metres of area, the facility is designed with 46 suites, seven conference rooms, a commercial kitchen, restaurants and lounges.

Outside the venue contains a swimming pool, spa and established gardens.

Ms Liu said BEKL’s refurbishment “will bring an internationally artistic feel while drawing local inspiration from its botanical surrounds and ‘bush retreat’ heritage, placing emphasis on the human experience.”

“An intrinsic part of our design process is using sustainable and high-quality urban renewal practises.

“We are huge advocates for the practice of biophilic design; connecting people and nature within our built environments as a means of reducing stress levels, increasing mood and the overall feeling of wellbeing.

“This will be a big focus as we move to create a wellness destination to be enjoyed, be it by corporate guests, leisure travellers or locals,” the executive added.

Early last month BEKL secured InterContinental Hotels Group to operate a 171-suite guesthouse designed as part of a 20-level tower also with own-your-own apartments at 10-16 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne.

BEKL paid Crescent Wealth $37m in 2017 for the eight storey office at 10-16 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne (above), mooted for a 20-level complex with a voco hotel (bottom), to be managed by InterContinental Hotel Group.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.

Marc Pallisco