Crys­tal clear on big plans

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - CHRIS CALCINO chris.calcino@news.com.au The Voices of Re­mem­brance con­cert is to­mor­row at Munro Martin Park­lands from 7-9pm.

CRYSTALBROOK Col­lec­tion ho­tel de­vel­oper Ghas­san Aboud has writ­ten an open let­ter to the peo­ple of Cairns re­veal­ing he has “many more prop­er­ties” on the way.

The fledg­ling hos­pi­tal­ity em­pire opened its first of three five-star ho­tels in Cairns this week. Ri­ley is al­ready notch­ing up pos­i­tive re­views on TripAd­vi­sor.

It was a proud mo­ment for Mr Aboud, who will ar­rive with about 40 friends, fam­ily and dig­ni­taries next month to see the fin­ished prod­uct.

The Syr­ian bil­lion­aire, who built his for­tune in mo­tor car deal­ing and me­dia in­ter­ests in the Mid­dle East, no­ticed a wide-open gap in the Cairns ho­tel mar­ket.

“When I first ar­rived here, I was in­deed im­pressed with the scenic beauty of Cairns and its nat­u­ral ex­u­ber­ance,” he said. “At the time, I was puz­zled by the lack of any sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in­ter­est in the devel­op­ment of hos­pi­tal­ity as­sets.

“I fig­ured that we could play a strate­gic role in col­lab­o­rat­ing with the city, cre­at­ing world­class as­sets that could make Cairns a com­pelling at­trac­tion for trav­ellers, and get Cairns to its most de­serv­ing po­si­tion in the world’s most trav­elled des­ti­na­tions.”

The 311-room Ri­ley ho­tel will al­ways hold a soft spot for Mr Aboud, but he said he was just get­ting started.

“Ri­ley has opened ... for our dis­cern­ing guests – with many more prop­er­ties on the way,” he said. The 217-room Bai­ley devel­op­ment is sched­uled to open in Septem­ber next year, with a chal­leng­ing but achiev­able build­ing time­line.

The fi­nal piece in Crystalbrook’s puz­zle is Flynn, the $120 mil­lion devel­op­ment at the site of the for­mer Bel­lview Ho­tel due to open in late-2019. JACK LAWRIE AS the son of a Viet­nam vet­eran and the grand­son of a World War Two vet­eran, Chris Burcin owes his life path to what they fought for.

The St Mon­ica’s Col­lege mu­sic teacher will sing in the Cairns Voices of Re­mem­brance con­cert to­mor­row, in­spired by the me­mory of his Amer­i­can vet­eran fa­ther and grand­fa­ther.

“My grand­fa­ther never had the choice to serve in World War Two,” Mr Burcin said.

“He was called up to serve late into the war be­cause they needed men and ended up los­ing his eye­sight in train­ing.

“My dad mean­while, chose to serve in Viet­nam.

“I chose to serve in the Peace Corps, which led me to where I am now via teach­ing mu­sic in So­ma­lia, New Zealand and now Cairns.

“It’s the gift of in­de­pen­dence that I have been given thanks to them, I have the free­dom to choose. I want to in­stil that in my stu­dents, to ap­pre­ci­ate the gift of free­dom.”

In­de­pen­dence is the value com­mem­o­rated in to­day’s An­zac col­lec­tor coin.

Col­lect to­day’s coin for $3 with the to­ken on page 6.

IN TUNE: St Mon­ica's Col­lege mu­sic teacher Chris Burcin is proud to sing in the Voices of Re­mem­brance con­cert in Cairns to com­mem­o­rate the armistice.

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