Sher­a­ton reno

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son & Nick Dal­ton

FOR­MER Prime Min­is­ter Bob Hawke has been hired as a con­sul­tant to the new own­ers of the Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Port Dou­glas Re­sort.

He said that the Full­share Group would be mak­ing ‘‘ a sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment’’ at Port Dou­glas as well as their newly ac­quired prop­er­ties at Proser­pine and Air­line Beach.

Af­ter re­turn­ing from a trade mis­sion to China, Pre­mier Camp­bell Newman this week re­vealed the com­pany would be spend­ing $350 mil­lion on the three prop­er­ties, with the bulk of it spent at Port Dou­glas, to re­store the re­sort to five- star sta­tus.

Mr Newman said the plan is to re­fur­bish and up­grade the re­sort and also build a six-star re­sort on the Sher­a­ton grounds and even build a new golf course.

The Hong Kong-based Chi­nese Full­share Group has bought the Mi­rage, as well as the other two re­sorts, from Mel­bourne the­atre mag­nate David Mar­riner, who orig­i­nally bought the Sher­a­ton Mi­rage in 2011 for $35 mil­lion.

Mr Hawke said Full­share was ‘‘ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to mak­ing the in­vest­ments as at­trac­tive as pos­si­ble’’.

He said he was not aware of the de­tail nor when work would start but un­der­stood the golf cour­ses at Port Dou­glas and La­guna Quays needed to be up­graded to ‘‘re­ally good con­di­tion’’.

Mr Hawke said he ex­pected work to start this year, ‘‘in the not so dis­tant fu­ture’’.

Cairns Mayor Bob Man­ning, who was the only mayor on the trade mis­sion, said he ex­pected the work to start in weeks, not months, with doc­u­ments to be lodged in a fort­night.

He said with the level of in­vest­ment of about $ 200m it would em­ploy about 200 peo­ple.

Sher­a­ton Mi­rage gen­eral man­ager Lach­lan Walker said the an­nounce­ment was pre­ma­ture and the plans are still be­ing fi­nalised.

‘‘We are very ex­cited with the an­nounced plans for the Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Port Dou­glas and look for­ward to work­ing with the Full­share Group, at this stage it is too early to re­lease any fur­ther de­tails,’’ he said.

Dou­glas Cham­ber of Com­merce trea­surer and man­ager of the Com­bined Club Kym Row­ley said, once the up­grade is com­plete, it will bring in more visi­tors, which will ben­e­fit the whole re­gion.

‘‘I think it’s a great move for this town from a com­mer­cial point of view and hope­fully it will be the start of more things to hap­pen,’’ he said.

‘‘In the days when the Sher­a­ton was pump­ing, the whole town was pump­ing.’’

Di­vi­sion 10 Coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said this is ‘‘ex­cel­lent news’’.

‘‘It bodes very well for the fu­ture of Port Dou­glas hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment into this fab­u­lous prop­erty,’’ she said.

‘‘It is in ma­jor need of sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment to re­alise its full po­ten­tial to re­flect its stun­ning lo­ca­tion and as an an­chor prop­erty for Dou­glas.

‘‘This is news we have been wait­ing for for a long time. It will be a sig­nif­i­cant cat­a­lyst to drive much needed fur­ther in­vest­ment into our re­gion.’’

Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute of Aus­tralia Far North pres­i­dent Adam Gowlett said it was ‘‘ fan­tas­tic news’’.

‘‘The re­gion is on the cusp of great things. Our econ­omy is be­ing buoyed in many sec­tors. Our eggs are not all in just one bas­ket which is very im­por­tant,’’ he said.

Port Dou­glas and Daintree Tourism ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Doug Ryan said the busi­ness com­mu­nity wel­comed the news and was ea­gerly await­ing de­tails. ‘‘It’s fan­tas­tic,’’ he said. ‘‘The re­de­vel­op­ment of the prop­erty has been promised for so long and peo­ple are say­ing it’s about time. They feel it’s well over­due.’’

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