05/06/2007 - 22:00

Aspen buys prized Coral Bay jewel

05/06/2007 - 22:00

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It was to be transformed into a $60 million luxury Hilton-branded resort this year, but Coral Bay’s Ningaloo Reef Resort has found a new direction under the ownership of Perth-based Aspen Group.

Aspen buys prized Coral Bay jewel

It was to be transformed into a $60 million luxury Hilton-branded resort this year, but Coral Bay’s Ningaloo Reef Resort has found a new direction under the ownership of Perth-based Aspen Group.

Aspen Group’s parks fund arm bought the 1.8 hectare site for $15 million last month from owners Deligo Pty Ltd, which had put the property back on the market in February when its $20 million deal with developer Two Oceans fell through.

Hilton-backed Two Oceans reportedly pulled out of the high-profile sale last October citing unfeasible building and infrastructure costs.

Aspen Group managing director Angelo Del Borrello said the company planned to maintain the resort’s current management while embarking on a major upgrade of its 34 rooms, restaurant, bar and bottle store.

“This is not just a pure property play. The owners have built up the business so we’ll maintain that and try and improve the quality of its services,” he said.

The Ningaloo Reef Resort has some scope for expansion, but Aspen plan to test the market first.

“Typically we buy on cash returns. We let them run for 12-18 months, get some cash flow and then take another view at that time,” Mr Del Borrello said.

The same strategy will also apply to the Kununurra Country Club Plaza Resort, which the group bought last month for $14 million.

The 2.7ha beachfront resort is a short distance from Lake Argyle and its facilities include bars, restaurants, conference facilities, a swimming pool and tropical gardens. 

Mr Del Borrello said Aspen paid a fair price for a good return on the investment and believed the resort would do well from its proximity to stage two of the Ord River irrigation project, which was likely to generate more demand for temporary and permanent accommodation in the town.

Following the acquisition of the two properties, as well as the Big4 Melbourne Ashley Gardens tourist park in Victoria last month, Aspen Parks has a total of 18 parks in its portfolio with a value exceeding $150 million.

Both Coral Bay and Kununurra properties are due to settle prior to June 30.

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