Coral Beach finds niche
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Expensive electric clothes driers were adding to the $50,000 a year power bill, so they’ve been replaced by gas ones.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.
Tom Quealy, owner of the Coral Beach Lodge