Domestic tourism is thinking small, but that is not a bad thing
TO those naysayers who reckon domestic tourism is in the doldrums and nothing new is happening, my advice is to listen up. Visitor numbers from local markets and overseas may be down due to the lively Australian dollar, but there is stuff happening, especially in the indulgent weekendaway category.
The little resort at Orpheus Island, north of Townsville, is about to unveil its overhaul, while a new owner at cyclonewrecked Bedarra, off Mission Beach, has plans in place for eight hideaway villas to open next year. Neighbouring Dunk Island, meanwhile, has been bought by Queensland resources tycoon Peter Bond, whose vision is for a high-end makeover and a shift from families to couples.
The Luxury Lodges of Australia association is growing, with 17 properties in its portfolio; the latest is the three-villa Pretty Beach House on the NSW central coast. Wild Bush Luxury has added two next-to-nature Kimberley properties: Kuri Bay (a pearl farm with three guestrooms) and Windayi River Camp (eight cabins on the Ord River). The Spicers group has been quietly opening properties in southeast Queensland and the Nswhunter Valley, including a Brisbane hotel in a restored Queenslander with just nine guestrooms.
Hayman, in the Whitsundays, has emerged victorious after cyclone dramas a year ago and now boasts revamped gardens and a resort-within-a-resort of eight beach villas with private plunge pools.
But bucking the trend to small and bespoke, the new Hilton Surfers Paradise and the nearby Mirvac-managed Sea Temple, within the Soul complex, are both triumphantly tall, with apartment-style guestrooms and fine dining. These five-star towers are sure to boom when the Gold Coast hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2018, an event guaranteed to delight holiday-makers and hoteliers, perhaps more so than Queensland taxpayers.