Do­mes­tic tourism is think­ing small, but that is not a bad thing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Australia - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

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.

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