Cypress Lakes golf and country club in the Hunter Valley sold to Thai hotel group for $10 million

Stephen TaylorJuly 23, 20130 min read

The Cypress Lakes country club resort in the Hunter Valley has been bought by a Thai hotel group for $10 million.

In a widely tipped sale, Minor International acquired the resort and management rights to 125 strata-titled villas through its Australian entity Oaks Hotels and Resorts from Singapore-based Lasseters International.

The purchase also includes approvals for a 120-room hotel and two development sites. However, it does not include the 18-hole championship golf course or club house.

The resort, plus adjoining land with up to 232 villas, was valued several years ago at about $150 million, with the villas worth about $100 million.

In 2001, Fairfax reported that Cypress Lakes sold and leased back the land and villas but retained ownership and management of the golf course and club house, the resort centre and some nearby land for development.

The resort is in the same location - Pokolbin -  as the Tower Estate Winery portfolio founded by celebrated wine-maker Len Evans and majority owned by former News Corporation chief executive and chairman Ken Cowley which was recently listed for sale.

Lasseters had hoped to offload the Cypress Lakes resort and a chain of Golden Door health retreats in NSW and Queensland for up to $30 million, but Minor International only had eyes for the resort and a 100 hectare site that could attract further development.

About two hours from Sydney, Cypress Lakes resort has a sport, leisure and wine tasting focus with the golf course, three food and beverage outlets, extensive conference facilities across four venues as well as horse riding and tennis facilities. The cellar door is leased to Brokenwood and the strata titled villas are branded as Grand Mercure Apartments.

Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels Group’s Mark Durran and Peter Harper negotiated the sale. ‘’The purchase price hit the mark on price expectations,’’ Harper says.

‘’We are now trying to sell the golf course to other groups.’’

The resort – established in 1996 - had reportedly not been performing well, with the strong Aussie dollar and poor consumer confidence in the economy affecting its revenues. Despite this, several groups were keen suitors, with Chinese and local groups prominent.

It’s reported that Lasseters accepted a $500,000 loss on the deal but are happy to dispose of the loss-making asset.

Things are ramping up for Minor International, which has flagged its intentions to buy in Australian mining towns. Other purchases include the Oasis Resort at Caloundra, Queensland, the Hotel M in Townsville, which it bought two years ago for $18 million, and the management of Sydney’s Regis serviced apartment tower.

Stephen Taylor

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