A new cas­tle in sight

Crys­tal­brook eyes city site

The Cairns Post - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS CALCINO [email protected] ed­i­to­[email protected]­spost.com.au face­book.com/TheCairn­sPost www.cairn­spost.com.au twit­ter.com/TheCairn­sPost

IT launched in Cairns now Crys­tal­brook Col­lec­tion is mov­ing in­ter­state to grow its em­pire.

The ho­tel chain, which last month opened the first of three CBD de­vel­op­ments, has its eye on a unique New­cas­tle prop­erty. A bou­tique Surry Hills ho­tel was also pur­chased re­cently.

A CIR­CU­LAR build­ing in New­cas­tle has caught the eye of Crys­tal­brook Col­lec­tion as the grow­ing ho­tel em­pire looks out­side Cairns for devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The com­pany has al­ready launched three pro­jects in the Far North, with a ma­jor trans­for­ma­tion of the Port Dou­glas ma­rina on the cards and an­other Cairns CBD prop­erty wait­ing for the right op­por­tu­nity to arise.

Crys­tal­brook CEO Mark Davie said he had sub­mit­ted ten­ders for the New­cas­tle City Coun­cil’s nine-storey “round­house” ad­min­is­tra­tion cen­tre, be­lieved to be on the mar­ket for about $15 mil­lion.

He planned to con­vert it into a five-star ho­tel rather than de­mol­ish and start from scratch.

“We’re still part of a ten­der pro­gram along with a lot of other bid­ders,” Mr Davie said,

“It’s not a her­itage-listed build­ing but we love the ar­chi­tec­ture, and we think it’s very much part of the his­tory of New­cas­tle.

“We’ve al­ways had that strat­egy to launch Crys­tal­brook Col­lec­tion in Cairns.

“Now we’re very much on the ex­pan­sion plan.”

If some­one else snaps up the un­usual build­ing, Mr Davie has other op­tions on the books as well.

“We’re pur­su­ing sev­eral op­tions in New­cas­tle to put in a five-star ho­tel,” he said.

“They’re all on the draw­ing board at the mo­ment.”

Crys­tal­brook also re­cently added the bou­tique Lit­tle Al­bion ho­tel in Syd­ney’s Surry Hills to its port­fo­lio.

The guest­house, com­plete with cus­tom fur­nish­ings and a con­sid­er­able art col­lec­tion, made in­ter­na­tional head­lines when its former owner be­came the first per­son in the world to put an en­tire ho­tel up for rent on Airbnb for $15,000 a night.

Mr Davie is look­ing far and wide for chances to make wise in­vest­ments on be­half of his em­ployer, Syr­ian bil­lion­aire Ghas­san Aboud.

“I’m plan­ning to add fur­ther lo­ca­tions next year,” he said.

“We’re look­ing at prop­er­ties in Can­berra and Mel­bourne – they are prob­a­bly the next two lo­ca­tions we will fo­cus on.

“It means we will have prop­er­ties right down the east coast of Aus­tralia.”

Mean­while the Crys­tal­brook Lodge at Al­maden near Chilla­goe is prov­ing pop­u­lar with select vis­i­tors want­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the out­back in lux­u­ri­ous style.

“It doesn’t have a high turnover of vis­i­tors and we wouldn’t want that,” Mr Davie said.

“The prop­erty only has five guest rooms, but it’s all about the ex­pe­ri­ence.”

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