Great Barrier Reef resort Dunk Island has been snapped up by London-based investment group Mayfair 101, who pledge to turn the cyclone damaged resort and surrounding Mission Beach region into “Australia’s tourism mecca”.
Virtually wiped out by Cyclone Yasi in 2011, the resort sold for $32 million, and was part of a $150 million spending splurge by Mayfair on up to 200 properties on Mission Beach.
Speaking to the ABC, Mayfair managing director James Mawhinney said the company intended to invest $1.6 billion dollars into the Cassowary Coast over the next 15 years. The masterplan includes three resorts on Dunk Island, an ultra-luxury beach-club-style resort on the mainland at Mission Beach and redesigning the local airstrip so it can accommodate international jets.
“We are delighted and humbled in being given the opportunity to restore the jewel in the crown of Far North Queensland,” Mawhinney said.
“One of the things that has really been lacking, we have found there have been a lot of operators have come in and just operated individual sites.
“Some have succeeded, others have failed. Part of our de-risking strategy was to make sure we had a much more broader, cohesive plan.”
The island was formerly owned by Peter Bond, who bought it for $7.5 million in 2011 shortly after Cyclone Yasi hit. Bond lost the key lease after construction delays and the island was left in ruins alongside several other former resort islands.
Mawhinney said Dunk Island is an iconic part of Australia’s history.
“We are very mindful of this region having two world heritage-listed sites,” he said.
Speaking to the ABC, Cassowary Coast Mayor John Kremastos welcomed the announcement with the caveat the plans align with council’s eco-tourism driven planning rules.
“We welcome this type of investment into our region, which reinforces this council’s decision to develop a strong local tourism strategy and offer development incentives to drive investment to our region, and in particular, Mission Beach,” he said.
“We don’t want another Gold Coast or concrete jungle, we want people to appreciate the beauty of our area.”