Moelis Australia snaps up Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel for just over $100 million

Moelis Australia, which is directed by Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham, is paying Melbourne-based Impact Investment Group (IIG) – a real estate investment vehicle of the wealthy Liberman family – just over $100 million for Byron Bay’s landmark Beach Hotel.

The deal includes the property at 2-10 Bay Street as well as the business, which IIG has co-controlled with hospitality veterans John, Lisa and Elke Van Haandel since 2017.

The Van Haandel’s operated the Beach Hotel on a 12-year lease which has just expired.

IIG paid racing car driver Max Twigg $68.2 million for the Byron Bay freehold two years ago on a long settlement.

Interestingly, one of the first things IIG did when it obtained its interest was remove the 15 electronic gaming machines.

The Byron Bay venue occupies a 4585 square metre site at 2-10 Bay Street.

Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel

On a 4586 square metre waterfront block, the Beach Hotel was developed in the early 1990s by entertainer and Crocodile Dundee producer John “Strop” Cornell – reportedly at a high cost of $9 million.

With his wife, actress and former Sale of the Century co-host, Delvene Delaney, Mr Cornell was a regular on The Paul Hogan Show.

The couple, who played an important role in raising the profile of the then sleepy hamlet, and live in the Byron Bay hinterland, last month sold the final piece of a compound they controlled on Belongil Beach – about 1.5 kilometres from 2-10 Bay Street.

Mr Cornell and Ms Delaney acquired the 9377 sqm Belongil Beach parcel from property developer Peter Kurts for $375,000 in 1987.

They sold the majority of it to retail tsar Gerry Harvey for about $10 million four years ago.

Mr Cornell held onto Beach Hotel until 2007 – selling it for $44 million to Mr Twigg, who was reportedly cashed up following the sale of a waste management business.

The venue is configured with three bars, a bistro with alfresco and fine dining spaces, a beer garden, bottle shop, swimming pool, conference facility and 25 recently renovated guest suites.

The block also offers airspace development potential.

Freehold and leasehold combo opened up the property to more buyers

IIG listed the freehold and leasehold of Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel two months ago.

It is the first time the property and business were offered together since 2007 and as such, attracted owner occupiers (like Moelis) as well as investors.

JLL Hotels and Hospitality’s John Musca, and the agency’s Queensland vice president, Tom Gleeson, marketed the property with colleague Tom Gibson.

The brokers said they fielded more than 100 enquiries – from both national and international suitors.

Four parties were shortlisted.

The Beach Hotel under Moelis Australia’s control

Moelis Australia Hotel Management – which manages the ASX-listed Redcape Hotel Group – will now operate the Beach Hotel.

Chief executive officer Dan Brady said it will create a single asset investment fund to hold the property.

He described Beach Hotel as “an iconic Australian establishment located on irreplaceable real estate”.

“The acquisition of both freehold and operating interests will enable the required capital investment to further enhance what has made the hotel iconic – that is, a great community gathering place with a fun, sociable, friendly and safe hospitality offering delivered by an engaged and passionate team of local…professionals” Mr Brady added.

Moelis intends to keep the majority of the hotel’s management and venue operators on staff.

It will be operated separately from the group and Redcape’s portfolio of other pub assets.

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Marc Pallisco

A freelance property analyst and journalist, Marc is a co-founder of realestatesource.com.au.

Marc Pallisco
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