Five-star facelift planned for Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas

Five-star facelift planned for Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas
Five-star facelift planned for Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas

Melbourne investor David Marriner has revealed development plans for the iconic Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas, which he bought in April this year for $35 million.

Stage one of the development will include the refurbishment of the resort’s central areas and rooms, construction of a 1,450-square-metre Great Barrier Reef arts and exposition forum and an adjacent outdoor covered amphitheatre seating 500.

The amphitheatre will replace the 850-seat Glade Pavilion, which Marriner referred to as an “out-dated tent” that was never meant to be a permanent structure.

During stage two the Mirage Country Club will be redeveloped into a prestigious harbour-style Westin resort with luxury yacht moorings, a boutique retail centre and redesigned golf course, Cairns.com.au reported.

The redevelopment is expected to take two years to complete, with a planning application to be submitted shortly.

The new plans have been developed by DBI architect Stuart Shakespeare, the original designer of the resort.

The Sheraton Mirage was one of two Mirage resorts in Port Douglas developed by the late, disgraced Australian businessman Christopher Skase in the late 1980s. The hotel effectively put the tropical north Queensland town on the map.

At the helm of Qintex Corporation, Skase spent $100 million building the hotel, which launched in 1987.

On the eve of the 1990 economic recession, his two Mirage resorts in Port Douglas, Queensland were among the largest in the country.

In 1989 Skase was forced to sell 49% of the Mirage resorts, with Japanese investors Mitsui and Nippon Shinpan paying $151 million for the Port Douglas resort.

Facing ASIC charges of improperly using his position to obtain management fees as well as personal debts of $170 million and corporate debts of $1.7 billion, Skase fled to the Spanish island of Majorca in 1991, where he died in August 2001.

Former guests of the Sheraton Mirage include former US president Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and John Travolta, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, model Claudia Schiffer, and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.

"What we're really doing is capitalising on a lot of the infrastructure that's here, we're modernising it, refurbishing it, and adding it to a new journey,” Marriner says.

The focus of the redevelopment will be what Marriner describes as the “artistic, cultural, arts fabric” that is prevalent in Port Douglas.

"It's our view that there's a level of sophistication within The Fabric of this community that lends itself to be capitalised in a little more sophisticated way than perhaps you would tackle other markets,” he says.

The Mirage has 294 rooms, six bars, an 18-hole golf course and beach frontage via a tropical forest. The property also includes 41 hectares of vacant land with residential redevelopment potential.

Presenting his vision for the Sheraton Mirage, Marriner described it as a resort that had grown tired over the years due to a lack of reinvestment.

The development requires $18 million from each of the Queensland and federal governments over five years for infrastructure development.

The presentation was attended by opposition spokesman Joe Hockey, who said if the numbers and ambition stacked up he would try to get the government to commit some funding to the project.

Also in attendance was Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, who had lobbied Federal Regional Development Minister Simon Crean and Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson for support.

Marriner says public money will go towards the infrastructure development, not the hotel refurbishment.

As security for the governments’ investment, he is offering a $10 million performance bond and the reassurance public money will be the last into the project.

Marriner says private investment of $120 million is needed just to “keep the lights on” and redevelop the asset. Investors are said to include mining magnate Clive Palmer and property entrepreneur Lloyd Williams.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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