Cairns is getting its first new five-star hotel in over 20 years with the new Crystalbrook Collection Resort, Riley, opening its doors on 6 November. Located on Cairns’ Esplanade, Riley’s contemporary design and ambience will nod to sustainability and environmentalism, and rooms will feature Apple iPads complete with healthy living apps, Staycast by Google Chromecast for video streaming, access to hundreds of complimentary movies and box sets and Nespresso machines (with recyclable pods).

To celebrate the launch of Riley, Crystalbrook has a collection of special opening offers:

Opening Special Advance Purchase

Pre-pay your Riley stay and receive a complimentary upgrade on bookings made before 19 December 2018 for stays between 6 November and 19 December 2018.

Laze and Graze

Spend the night and enjoy a full buffet breakfast for two at Paper Crane, valet parking and late check-out from $339 per room per night for stays between 20 December 2018 and 30 December 2020.

Pay Two, Stay Three

Stay a little longer. Book any Urban, Resort or Sea room for two nights before 29 April 2019 and the third night is on Riley. Valid for stays between 6 November 2018 and 30 April 2019. Offer is also available for longer stays, i.e. stay four, pay three; stay five, pay four; stay six, pay four and stay seven, pay five.

Conditions apply to the above special offers. Visit for more information.


A NEW $3 million catamaran will shepherd tourists to the Great Barrier Reef out of Port Douglas.

Jenny and John Edmondson (with seadog Jock) on their new vessel, Wavelength 6. Pic by Shane Nichols

Wavelength Reef Cruises has welcomed a fourth ­catamaran into its fleet at the Crystalbrook Superyacht ­Marina, after the 20m vessel steamed up the coast from Brisbane on the weekend.

Wavelength 6 was ­designed by Sydney-based naval architects Incat-Crowther and built by Brisbane based ­Aluminium Marine.

Equipped with more storage space and greater seating comfort, the vessel can carry 48 passengers and will take them to the company’s 15 mooring sites within the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

Wavelength co-owner Jenny Edmondson said the new catamaran would boost the company’s carrying ­capacity for Reef trips.

“Basically we turn a lot of people away when it’s busy, so it will give us a lot more ­capacity,” she said.

“And obviously the cats run a lot better during poor weather, so there’s a bit more ­comfort for our passengers.”

Wavelength, which was founded in the 1980s, is the second-longest running Reef operator in Port Douglas.

It is also the only outer Reef tour company that is still owned by Port Douglas locals.


Port Douglas has always been famous for its clear dark skies brightened by the infinite glow of the stars.

But visitors have never been treated to a guided astronomy tour using military grade lasers while floating on the waters of the Coral Sea.

That is until now.

Pioneering Port Douglas businessman John Morris has teamed up with Blue Dive owner Mark Fraenkel to offer an unprecedented nighttime experience on board one of the most popular vessels in town.

Enter the Sunset and Stargazing Adventure Cruise by Blue Dive on the Choo Choo Explorer.

Using the finest in licensed green star spotting lasers, the second half of the cruise is dominated by the cosmic enchantment in the sky.

“We had a vision and wanted to offer something that’s never been seen before in Port Douglas,” Fraenkel said.

“The southern sky shines brightest in Australia, so for people to experience its magic on a guided stargazing expedition on water is very unique.

“It’s certainly an exciting collaboration between John Morris and Blue Dive Port Douglas.”

The tour, rubber-stamped by the Astronomical Society of Australia, also offers a rare opportunity to see the region’s exciting wildlife under the cover of darkness.

How? Using specifically designed, red-beamed, wildlife spotting torches, of course.

“We wanted to offer a tropical wildlife experience and give visitors a chance to spot a crocodile, or some of the vast array of nocturnal animals, at night,” Fraenkel said.

“A lot of thought has gone into making this one of the best experiences in the region using state-of-the-art equipment.”

After taking in the rainforest-clad Great Diving Range at sunset, the adventure makes its way up the mangrove-lined Dicksons Inlet where keen eyes begin to scan the waterways.

The tour then turns toward the sky where the history of the constellations are passed on by a trained guide, along with tales from Kuku Yalanji folklore.

“Our beautiful star-studded sky is like a time machine, there are just so many incredible stories to be told and that’s what this tour is all about,” Fraenkel adds.

“The moon’s light takes 1.3 seconds to get to us, and the sun, our nearest star, over eight minutes.

“So we point out some very distant stars that potentially have died hundreds and hundreds of years ago.”

The cruise, which runs for almost two hours, includes free nibbles and a paid bar. Trips run on Monday and Thursday at 5.30pm from the Port Douglas marina.


by Blue Dive on the Choo Choo Explorer

For more information and to book visit, email or call 0427 983 907.


Australian Hotel Group Entrepreneur Awarded ‘Leading Hospitality Investor’

The sole investor behind Australian hospitality group Crystalbrook Collection, Mr Ghassan Aboud, has been awarded ‘Leading Hospitality Investor’ at the 2018 Leaders in Hospitality Awards held in Dubai earlier this week.

The annual event is hosted by Hotel News Middle East and recognizes leading regional and international players in the hospitality sector.

The award acknowledged Ghassan Aboud’s pioneering foray into the hospitality sector with project commitments of AU$800 million, through the creation of a portfolio of luxury Australian hotels under the brand name Crystalbrook Collection.

Upon receiving the recognition, Ghassan Aboud said “I am honoured to be recognized at this prestigious event as an international investor. With the outstanding management team that we have in Sydney and Cairns, I am confident that Crystalbrook Collection will deliver exceptional customer enjoyment at some of the world’s most desirable destinations.”

Wissam Youhane, CEO of BNC Publishing, the publisher of Hotel News Middle East said ““Once again I am humbled to be associated with this fantastic industry. It is a real honour to see so many talented people assembled in one place to share their achievements with us. At BNC Publishing we endeavor to shine a light on the prowess of those within this amazing sector and that is what the awards were all about – taking the opportunity to give something back to those who give so much to us.”

In the hospitality sector, with an initial focus on Australia, Ghassan Aboud’s investments are being deployed in acquisition, development and management of prime hospitality assets. The assets include 5-star hotels, luxury apartments, marina operations and high-end retail. In addition to the hospitality portfolio, the group has invested into a substantial pastoral business with land area of 35,000 hectares.

The ultimate ambition of Crystalbrook Collection is to become a world class brand associated with unique lifestyle destinations.

Ghassan Aboud is the promoter of the multi-business conglomerate, the Ghassan Aboud Group that was established 25 years back with the UAE as the headquarters

About Ghassan Aboud Group

Established in 1994, the Ghassan Aboud Group operates from its global headquarters in the with business operations in Australia, Belgium, Jordan and Turkey. The group is well entrenched in automotive, hospitality, pastoral, real estate, retail, catering, media and art production businesses.

About the Crystalbrook Collection

Crystalbrook Collection is a portfolio of distinctive luxury hotels where differences are applauded. Each hotel and resort carries an authentic expression of its location. Add playful designs, a stimulating environment and a passion for fun and you have a uniquely enriching experience.

A STAPLE of the Port Douglas Carnivale will return to the marina this year.

The Seafood Extravaganza will be held at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina on Sunday, May 27 and the old favourite is set to team up with Hemingway’s Brewery, who will have a specially crafted beer for the occasion.

The craft beer will match the seafood including oysters, prawns, mussels and fresh fish the Port Douglas craft brewery and restaurant is serving.

Hemingway’s Group Events Director Cathy Alexander said the cold seafood menu will include an oyster station with freshly shucked oysters, fresh prawns from North Queensland, sashimi and smoked mussels.

The Hemingway’s kitchen will also be serving hot seafood dishes such as fish and chips during the event. The new beer will be served alongside Hemingway’s other craft beers plus there will be wine tasting on the marina boardwalk.

The seafood event will also include plenty of entertainment with face painting and presentations by Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures for children.

“We’ve also got a doughnut shack on the marina for the kids,” Alexander said.

“There will be non-stop live entertainment till 5pm, the official end of the Extravaganza. Then we will continue with a Sunday session at Hemingway’s late into the evening.”

Hemingway’s will be opening its upstairs bar during the Extravaganza.

“There are great views of the marina from there, and we know people will love being up there.”

Alexander said the restaurant will also cater for anyone who comes along on the day.

“There’s plenty for non-seafood eaters and vegetarians. You’ll still be able to get a burger and all our other regular menu items.”

The Seafood Extravaganza is on May 27 from 12pm to 5pm at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, Port Douglas. Port Douglas Carnivale runs from May 25-27.


DOUGLAS Shire Mayor Julia Leu says she’s ‘extremely confident’ the $200 million marina redevelopment will go ahead despite the developer pulling its application.

The decision by Crystalbrook Collection to rethink plans was an opportunity to ‘revisit and refine’ the development, according to Cr Leu.

She confirmed her Council had a number of concerns with the development application, including the architectural style of the building, which they sought clarification on in January.

Developers have since advised council of their decision to ice the project after holding talks with a host of tourist operators, marina tenants and industry experts, it has been revealed.

The news comes after a number of businesses, including the iconic On The Inlet seafood restaurant, ended their lease agreements at the marina as a result of the anticipated waterfront transformation.

“I am extremely confident and Crystalbrook Collection has shown a huge commitment to Far North Queensland,” Mayor Leu told Newsport today.

“Port Douglas is a thriving, internationally-renowned tourist destination that can benefit from thoroughly planned investment like this.”

Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud’s company had lodged plans for a 130-room luxury hotel, 45 villas, nine apartments and a waterfront dining and retail precinct.

Council’s other concerns involved pedestrian access, project staging, and how existing operators at the marina, such as Hemingway’s Brewery, Lure and Barbados, could continue to operate without disruption once construction began.

Despite the project stalling, Cr Leu said she expected Crystalbrook to lodge another development application.

“I have spoken to the applicants and I am encouraged by their firm commitment to the marina precinct,” she said.

“This is a forward-thinking opportunity to revisit and refine a landmark development that has the ability to revitalise Port Douglas.

“Douglas Shire Council has worked closely with the applicants and look forward to maintaining a strong relationship when a new development application is lodged.”

She added the community encouraged ‘rigorous investment’ that ‘compliments the region’s unique tropical character.’

Crystalbrook Collection say they are still fully committed to the project and will work with key partners over the coming months ‘to revisit the enhanced marina experience’.

“We anticipate it will be business as usual for the next 18 months at the marina as feasibility studies are undertaken,” a spokesperson said.


Delivering a unified Great Barrier Reef destination message is the key focus of four collaborating superyacht marinas at this year’s Australian Superyacht Rendezvous.

Taking a collective marketing approach to target international superyachts, Abell Point Marina, Cairns Marlin Marina, Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina and Hamilton Island Marina are working together to promote one simple message – the Great Barrier Reef is the best cruising grounds in the world.

The world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef is home to icons such as Whitehaven Beach, Lizard Island and the Low Isles. These four marinas are located on the doorstep of these natural wonders providing first-class superyacht facilities, as well as access to unlimited itinerary potential.

Diving the coral reefs, exploring ancient rainforests, enjoying a luxury island resorts or cruising the 74 Whitsunday islands, these hero experiences are the focus of the Great Barrier Reef marina collaboration.

The Australian Superyacht industry eagerly awaits the 2018 Australian Superyacht Rendezvous hosted by Gold Coast City Marina (GCCM) on 20/ 21 April. After the resounding success of last year’s event, the 2018 Australian Superyacht Rendezvous provides the ultimate platform for industry to further enhance the potential of the superyacht industry in Australia.

GCCM chief executive officer, Trenton Gay explains “we are thrilled to have all four of the major Great Barrier Reef marinas onboard as sponsors. Their support adds enormous strength to our event and the very strong message we are sending to the global Superyacht fleet.”

“The Australian Superyacht Rendezvous is about the superyacht industry banding together to put an international spotlight on our amazing country as the ultimate cruising destination and collaborating to attract a larger superyacht fleet to our pristine waters”.

Coming together as co-sponsors of this prestigious event are four superyacht marinas based on the Great Barrier Reef. With a shared vision to promote the Great Barrier Reef region to domestic and international superyachts, this will be the first time the group has worked this closely together to communicate the itinerary potential of the world-heritage listed cruising grounds.

Luke McCaul, general manager Abell Point Marina confirms the rationale behind the collaboration, “to work alongside other quality superyacht marinas in the region is essential to secure increased visitation to the region.”

“The diversity of the cruising grounds, marina facilities and superyacht support services available to visiting vessels in the Great Barrier region is world-class. If the Superyacht industry are smart in promoting our national assets in a collaborative and consistent nature, we will realise our message will emerge stronger and more competitive in the global market.”

Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina in Port Douglas, Cairns Marlin Marina, Abell Point Marina and Hamilton island in the Whitsundays, are collaborating under industry association banner Superyacht Group Great Barrier Reef (SYGGBR) in a real example of how superyacht industry partners are working together to secure the future growth of the superyacht industry in Australia.

MaryAnne Edwards of Superyacht Australia agrees that ‘’this type of collaboration is exactly what the industry needs and it is exciting to see Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, Cairns Marlin Marina, Abell Point Marina and Hamilton Island marina join forces at the Australian Superyacht Rendezvous to promote the Great Barrier Reef. With the newly launched Superyacht Guide to the Great Barrier Reef and marketing efforts like this we expect to see an increase in vessels heading their way. This increase in visitation would be a boost for regional Australia”

Chair of Superyacht Group Great Barrier Reef (SYGGBR), Carrie Carter supports the collaborative venture, ‘’as the sole Far North Queensland superyacht cluster, the SYGGBR are extremely pleased to announce the collaboration of our four world-class marinas at the Australian Superyacht Rendezvous. By imparting their collective capability and high-end services to the global superyacht fleet, our marinas will also showcase their complimentary itineraries and destinations, encompassing the magic of the amazing cruising grounds of the GBR from North to South.”

The Australian Superyacht Rendezvous shines an international spotlight on Australia’s first-class superyacht facilities, hero tourism experiences and safe cruising grounds, making Australia the ultimate cruising destination for overseas yachts.

For more information visit –

DEVELOPMENT company Crystalbrook Collection has purchased The Reef Marina.

The Port Douglas marina will now be known as the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina and becomes billionaire developer Ghassan Aboud’s fourth major investment in Far North Queensland.

His tourism and hospitality group will now pour at least another $100 million into the precinct to build a 100-room luxury waterfront hotel, 50 premium apartments and enhanced retail and dining areas.

“With our plans, we believe we can redefine the Australian marina experience and ensure Port Douglas is an essential-visit location for high-end global travellers,” Aboud said.

Mark Davie, CEO of Crystalbrook Collection, said central to the expansion was the creation of a ‘world-class’ hotel in Port Douglas.

“This site demands a hotel of the highest calibre,” he said.

“We have been travelling the world for inspiration. We want to bring to Port Douglas a globally recognized hotel and an incomparable experience for its guests.”

In a boon for Port Douglas, more than 600 jobs will be created over the construction phase, slated for mid 2018, with 240 permanent jobs post completion.

The development is expected to be completed by 2020, and will include 24 more berths to the marina to accommodate superyachts of up to 50 metres.

The Reef Marina’s Andrew Hooper-Nguyen said he was extremely proud of what his team had achieved over the last four years, including obtaining development approval for an $85 million waterfront transformation.

“We have transformed a marina that was literally falling apart into a superyacht hub with world-class entertainment venues,” he told Newsport today.

“It is not without sadness that we pass the marina onto its new owners. However, our strength is in marina investment and operations, and having navigated the challenging path to obtaining approvals for redevelopment of the site, it is now appropriate that we entrust The Reef Marina to experienced developers.”

Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said she was thrilled to see investment coming to the region in an encouraging sign for Port Douglas.

“It’s many years since we have seen a development of this size and Crystalbrook Collection have demonstrated with their recent significant investments in Far North Queensland that they mean business and are committed to the ongoing growth of the region,” Leu said.

“This investment in the marina will endorse Port Douglas as one of Australia’s most idyllic getaways and bring great economic growth for the wider community.”

Aboud’s group has already invested over $370 million into three separate hotels in Cairns. Like those projects, Prime Group has been appointed to project manage and construct the expansion.

The group also owns and operates Crystalbrook Lodge and the MV Bahama motor yacht berthed at the Port Douglas marina.