Co­ral Beach finds niche

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Shane Nichols

IN 2014 Port Dou­glas back­pack­ers/mo­tel Port O’Call got a new owner and not long af­ter, a new name – Co­ral Beach Lodge.

“To visi­tors, many from over­seas, the old name didn’t mean any­thing. It was hard to understand,” says Tom Quealy, the new owner.

“So I sur­veyed all the guests and asked them to vote on their choice of cer­tain words, and ‘co­ral’ and ‘beach’ were three times more pop­u­lar than the other key words as a po­ten­tial name.”

Tom, born and bred in Sydney, has run var­i­ous busi­nesses in the past.

A bit rest­less and up for a chal­lenge, he de­cided while trav­el­ling abroad to en­ter the ac­com­mo­da­tion in­dus­try.

“I had stayed in a lot of places and had a good idea of what makes a good one,” he says.

But for­eign lo­ca­tions proved too hard, mainly for lack of se­cu­rity and in­se­cu­rity of property rights.

He searched the East Coast of Aus­tralia and found the per­fect spot in Port Dou­glas.

In the Port O’Call he found a run­down back­pack­ers that had started life as a mo­tel about 40 years ago. Lots and lots needed do­ing. In the past year or so, as well as the new sig­nage, hun­dreds of thou­sand of dol­lars have gone into struc­tural work, pest erad­i­ca­tion, land­scap­ing, fenc­ing, room ren­o­va­tions, mar­ket­ing, and a myr­iad other ap­point­ments such as new fridges and cab­i­netry in the rooms that in­cludes lock­able cup­boards with power points so quests can recharge their mo­bile de­vices.

Ex­pen­sive elec­tric clothes dri­ers were adding to the $50,000 a year power bill, so they’ve been re­placed by gas ones. New bath­rooms are next.

Just in the roof­ing, main­te­nance re­quired 60,000 new screws.

Dur­ing all of this the property re­mained open and in fact it’s en­joyed a good sea­son that is still rolling along at 80 per cent oc­cu­pancy.

The property can be read­ily re­con­fig­ured to al­ter the com­bi­na­tion of pri­vate rooms to dor­mi­tory style lodg­ing.

At its peak Co­ral Beach Lodge ac­com­mo­dates 100 guests a night, which is a fluc­tu­at­ing ra­tio of back­pack­ers and longer stay guests.

Pic­ture: SHANE NICHOLS

Tom Quealy, owner of the Co­ral Beach Lodge

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