Laguna ‘won’t affect Mirage’
SHERATON Mirage owner David Marriner is adamant the latest redundancies at his Laguna Quays resort is no reflection on his determination to revamp his flagship Port Douglas investment.
Mr Marriner has blamed the demise of the tourism industry in the Whitsundays for the virtual closure of Laguna Quays, which has never recovered from the State Government’s decision to reverse the approval of an international airport licence for the development in 2009.
“I don’t see tourism returning to the Whitsundays anytime soon,” he said.
“The recent closure of Club Med in the Whitsundays, the only international resort in the region, and the demise of the Port of Airlie development with receivers appointed, combined with the high Australian dollar and the fact international flights at the Proserpine airfield have failed to materialise has led to the wholesale collapse of tourism in the Whitsundays.
“I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel but I have a very strong belief in Port Douglas.”
Mr Marriner cited Cairns International Airport and the potential to tap into the Chinese market as reasons for optimism regarding the Sheraton Mirage.
“Cairns is in a much better position than the Whitsundays with an airport which has invested in very good infrastructure to support growth in international visitor numbers,” Mr Marriner said.
“With the Sheraton’s strong Starwood brand and our close association with the Chinese, it is obviously a market where we see meaningful visitation in the future and our numbers are already supporting that.”
Despite a lack of progress on his proposal for the State and Federal Governments to invest $36 million to build a conference and performance “symposium” on the site of the Sunbird Centre, Mr Marriner said he remains committed to refurbishing the resort.
“We’ve already invested in new beds and televisions for all of the rooms at the Mirage and are doing some prototype work for the refurbishment to help the property reclaim its past glory,” Mr Marriner said.
“This process is happening continually and we are committed to the Port Douglas Mirage.
“We’re ready to implement our plans, we just need governments to sit down and understand the project is a joint initiative which benefits everyone.”