La­guna ‘won’t af­fect Mi­rage’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - GREG MCLEAN

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.”

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