Crystal clear on big plans
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.