Glenn Piper has snapped up the leasehold to the cyclone-damaged Hook Island Lodge, once part owned by Melbourne developer and ex-theatre owner David Marriner, which acquired it from receivers 22 years ago.
In a move that will see the island reopen to guests for the first time since 2013, the 9.3 hectare holding will be rebuilt as a “world class” eco lodge, with a major food and drinking precinct.
It will be the only privately owned operation on the 17,000ha land mass, between Hayman and Whitsunday islands.
Mr Piper’s Meridian Australia, with a small syndicate, is believed to be paying between $10-$12m – the guide – for the asset, which includes infrastructure for buildings cleared following cyclones Yasi (in 2011) and Debbie (2017).
Settlement is scheduled in August.
The businessman recently outlaid a speculated $15m for the leasehold to the 30ha Q Station, in Sydney’s north Manly, not far from the Harbord Hotel (at Freshwater) which he acquired for $40m in 2020.
Earlier this month we reported the Sydney based publican purchased the Art Deco Merewether Beach Hotel, staring down the beach three kilometres south of central Newcastle, again outlaying c$40m.
Eco-lodge concept to be delivered
CBRE Hotels’ Tom Gibson marketed Hook Island Lodge for Laguna Island Adventures; expressions of interest closed on May 19.
“The fact that Hook Island Lodge went under offer in the very first week of a public…process highlights the confidence experienced operators have in our tourism market,” the agent said.
“We received in excess of 150 enquiries through the process from a range of well-known investors, including major international food and beverage players, as well as ultra-high net worth individuals,” he added.
“Queensland, and more specifically the Whitsunday Islands, has witnessed record hospitality and tourism investment in recent years, marking it as one of the most resilient markets through the pandemic and positioning it perfectly to capture to resurgent international inbound market,” according to the executive.
Mr Gibson promoted the “clean slate opportunity” as perfect for a luxury resort.
The location, he added, with extensive water frontage encapsulating two beaches, is world class and easily accessible (story continues below).
In 2018 Laguna earmarked the site for an asset containing 60 eco cabins, a 40-unit eco lodge, 20 eco tens, a helipad, jetty, and diving school – potentially able to accommodate 250 guests a night.
Mr Piper expects to reopen Hook Island Lodge in two years; the development cost is expected to come in at c$20m.
“I want to create an experience that befits the beauty of the island and the Whitsundays – respectfully and sustainability,” the executive said.
“I’m energised at the thought of creating a world class hospitality experience for this slice of paradise and cannot wait for the first guest to step onto the sand,” he added.
“We are currently in the process of extensive research and consultation as part of the work on Q Station, and will soon begin a similar process for Hook Island; it is incredibly rewarding and inspiring to uncover the stories and facets that will shape its future,” according to the businessman.
Hook Island is about 28 kilometres from Airlie Beach and triple that distance to Bowen.
Laguna acquired the resort from KPMG for $1.08m.
Australian “must do” destination: Tourism Whitsundays
The Hook Island Lodge deal comes seven months since Gina Rinehart agreed to outlay $50m for Great Keppel Island, about 400km north of the Whitsundays.
Last November, meanwhile, Andrew Lizard, another miner, via his Tattarang subsidiary, is spending a rumoured $42m for Lizard Island, 700km north of Hook Island Lodge.
Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer, Rick Hamilton, said Mr Piper’s proposed eco-resort would “further enhance the reputation of the Whitsundays and Queensland both domestically and internationally” as the must-do destination in Australia.
Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Rick Hamilton also welcomed the development of a new eco resort on the island commenting that “The new eco resort will further enhance the reputation of The Whitsundays and Queensland both domestically and internationally as the must do destination in Australia”.
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