THE first six-star hotel in the Far North is earmarked for Port Douglas.
Crystalbrook Collection is poised to unveil plans to build luxurious six and five-star hotels at the Port Douglas marina in a private meeting with Douglas Shire Council.
Crystalbrook chief executive Mark Davie said the company’s billionaire owner, Ghassan Aboud, was reviewing three architectural concepts in preparation for a formal offer to council in January.
All three proposals involve building a 30-room six-star hotel and a 100-room five-star hotel along the Dicksons Inlet waterfront.
Mr Davie said Mayor Julia Leu and council CEO Mark Stoermer would be privy to the initial concept of the $200 million investment in the coming weeks, with a view to promptly moving to the development application process.
“From my discussions, there is sense of strong support from council and a motivation to process the application as quickly as possible,” he said.
“Right now there is an opportunity for everybody to get behind this project, which will be an absolute game-changer for Port Douglas.
“It’s on our desk to move ahead. It’s budgeted for and construction is set to begin in 2020.”
Crucially, none of the plans will affect the retail trade and tourism sector already established at the marina – a major sticking point in the original DA which stalled in April.
Mr Davie said that, if given the green light, they would demolish the Dicksons Inlet facing elbow in the first half of 2019.
“At this stage there are no hold-ups. We are at the point where we will make a decision on what we are willing to build and invest in,” he said.
“We are talking about a $200 million project at least, so obviously this is a very important financial decision for our company.”
Crystalbrook has just opened the first of three hotel developments in Cairns worth in excess of $350 million.
Its Port Douglas development would target high-end travellers who are bypassing Australia for Asia, Mr Davie said. “If Port Douglas really wants to be a tourist destination in the future, then it needs to invest heavily in the hotel infrastructure in that town,” he said.
“We are mindful there has been minimal investment in Port Douglas since the days of the Sheraton.
“We are finding visitors to Port Douglas are seeking alternative locations, so I think we need to fight hard to offer them a product to attract them to our region.”
Mayor Julia Leu said she was encouraged to hear Crystalbrook was keen to work with the council through the process.
“Douglas Shire Council continues to work closely with the applicants and looks forward to maintaining a strong relationship when a new development application is lodged,” she said in a statement.
PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN