Will unparalleled levels of investment at Rottnest Island deliver for the island’s businesses and for the state? Russell Quinn reports.
In Western Australia the term ‘boom’ usually conjures up images of red dust plumes and iron ore piles in the north, but there’s an explosion of business investment occurring just 20 kilometres from Perth.
Business leaders on WA’s beloved Rottnest Island, from vastly experienced operators to the more recent entrants to venture offshore, have suggested the popular family holiday destination is in the midst of an unprecedented investment and development boom.
Proprietor of the Rottnest Bakery and head of the Rutherford Group Ivan Rutherford said that after forty years on the island he was excited to be part of the greatest level of investment ever.
“It’s a boom,” Mr Rutherford said
“It’s absolutely unprecedented, no question about it, and personally I think this is the best you’ll ever see it.”
If a major proposed project is commissioned for Rottnest Island in the next few weeks, it is expected to bring total capital expenditure in the island’s tourist sector to almost $100 million over a five-year period.
More than $40 million has already been spent and approximately $50 million has been touted as the cost for developing a luxury resort on the island, located at Mount Herschel.
Last week Rottnest Island Authority chairman Laurie O’Meara confirmed that the state government had received the final presentations from the two developers shortlisted to build and operate the four to four-and-a-half star hotel on the island.
International luxury boutique hotel developer Karma Resorts is currently facing off with Pinctada Hotels and Resorts, which operates in the Kimberley and the Pilbara.
Karma Resorts founder and chairman John Spence told Business Class that after establishing Royal Resorts back in 1993 to develop properties in India and Asia, he launched Karma Resorts five years ago when he opened Karma Jimbaran in Bali.
Mr Spence said he would also develop a retreat in Margaret River to join his growing list of international properties that already include Bali, Koh Samui, Goa, Kerala, Mykonos and Dubai.
Paspaley Group director Marilynne Paspaley is at the helm of Pinctada, which is responsible for Pinctada Cable Beach, McAlpine House and Captain Kennedy House in Broome, as well as the Kimberley Grande in Kununurra.
Mr O’Meara suggested there were issues relating to the development that needed to be cleared by cabinet.
“I think it’s reasonable to say that there is an appetite to keep the thing moving fairly quickly, so I would think the decision would be available in matter of weeks rather than months,” Mr O’Meara said.
Elsewhere on the island, Peter Prendiville’s Hotel Rottnest, formerly the Quokka Arms, had $6.5 million sunk into it while Dome Café underwent a $3 million redevelopment in recent years.
Aristos Group CEO Aristos Papandroulakis said he spent “well over a million dollars” establishing the fifth arm to his hospitality business, Aristos Waterfront Rottnest, while Greg Brindle is currently spending $2.5 million upgrading the Thomson Bay general store and the Geordie Bay store and café.
And the Rottnest Island Authority recently spent $300,000 upgrading the conference facilities at the country club amid continuing its multi-million dollar annual accommodation maintenance program.