How Carver cre­ated trop­i­cal magic

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SHERATON MIRAGE -

LOOK­ING beyond the im­me­di­ate de­sign brief to the full life­cy­cle of a five star re­sort like the Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Port Dou­glas has opened up fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties for both Scott Carver and for the com­mu­ni­ties of the Far North that rely on the hospi­tal­ity and tourism sec­tor.

Scott Carver was con­tracted as the land­scape ar­chi­tects for new owner Full­share Group’s re­fur­bish­ment of the 30-year old Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Re­sort.

Scott Carver Di­rec­tor An­drew Turn­bull, Project Di­rec­tor for de­sign and de­liv­ery, de­scribes the task as “not just cos­metic surgery, this was more like a triple by­pass op­er­a­tion.”

The re­sort had had very lit­tle in­vest­ment over the pre­vi­ous three decades, Turn­bull says, and as a re­sult the qual­ity of the build­ings and the land­scape both re­quired a sub­stan­tial up­lift.

The orig­i­nal de­sign had fo­cused on cre­at­ing a trop­i­cal paradise, with 80 per cent of the land­scaped area planted out with trees and un­der­storey and very lit­tle in the way of open grassed ar­eas.

A lack of suc­ces­sion plant­ings and man­age­ment had meant the planted ar­eas had be­come quite over­grown.

The Scott Carver strat­egy was to con­vert 70 per cent of the planted area to turf while re­tain­ing the trees.

This cre­ated a blank can­vas for land­scape en­hance­ments. Much of the de­sign de­ci­sion­mak­ing was driven by con­sid­er­ing on­go­ing main­te­nance and new tech­nolo­gies in wa­ter man­age­ment. Scott Carver put in place a re­cy­cled wa­ter strat­egy to re­place the potable mains wa­ter that had been used for grounds ir­ri­ga­tion, sav­ing the re­sort many thou­sands of dol­lars an­nu­ally in wa­ter costs.

Other hard land­scape el­e­ments de­liv­ered in the re­freshed out­door spa­ces in­clude up­grades to the water­ways and lagoon pools, the ad­di­tion of swim-up bal­conies to lagoon-edge suites, and the in­stal­la­tion of more than 25 ca­banas ad­ja­cent to the la­goons.

“This has given it a more con­tem­po­rary re­sort feel,” Turn­bull says.

He says re­search has shown that guests at the re­sort spend 70 per cent of their time out­side.

The ex­ist­ing grounds also in­cluded a num­ber of back of house land­scapes that were not be­ing put to best use, so the Scott Carver team in­te­grated them into the over­all de­sign so they be­came func­tional ar­eas.

The re­sort caters to both leisure and busi­ness tourism, a key as­pect of the land­scape re­fur­bish­ment is to pro­vide ad­di­tional out­door spa­ces for large group use in­clud­ing con­fer­ences and wed­dings in­cor­po­rat­ing au­dio tech­nol­ogy and spe­cial ef­fects light­ing.

“This cre­ates an in­doorout­door op­por­tu­nity,” Turn­bull says.

A key con­sid­er­a­tion in the de­sign and fu­ture man­age­ment of the land­scape was the in­te­gra­tion of man­age­ment across the beach­front, golf course, Mi­rage Coun­try Club and the Re­sort. The com­bined Land­scape Man­age­ment Plan im­proves en­ergy, wa­ter and re­source ef­fi­ciency.

Turn­bull says Full­share now wants to trans­fer the model to its other as­sets, which Scott Carver has also been con­tracted to work on. Th­ese in­clude Mi­rage Whis­per Bay and the La­guna Whit­sun­day de­vel­op­ment.

One of the project’s ma­jor pos­i­tives has been the ben­e­fits for the lo­cal Port Dou­glas com­mu­nity.

Turn­bull says the ques­tion of how to build the com­mu­nity’s ca­pac­ity and lo­cal econ­omy was key to all think­ing on the project.

For the du­ra­tion of the project, Turn­bull himself spent one week on, one week off based at Port Dou­glas.

This helped him build strong links with lo­cal trades and sup­pli­ers, who were used wher­ever pos­si­ble. It was a plea­sure col­lab­o­rat­ing with the lo­cals, be­cause ev­ery­one had a vested in­ter­est in the out­come.

The fine grain de­tail of the project ben­e­fit­ted too.

For ex­am­ple, Turn­bull says he was able to sit down with the lo­cal me­tal­work ex­perts and de­velop bet­ter so­lu­tions for spe­cific items.

The fo­cus on the lo­cal econ­omy re­sulted in cre­at­ing jobs, and the up­lift of the re­sort has en­sured that the em­ploy­ment and in­come the re­sort gen­er­ates for the lo­cal com­mu­nity is as­sured.

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