21/11/2006 - 21:00

Broome boom to boost hotel rooms

21/11/2006 - 21:00

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The possibility of Broome becoming Western Australia’s second international flight hub next year is helping drive a major development push in the town, leading to strong sales of existing hotel properties.

The possibility of Broome becoming Western Australia’s second international flight hub next year is helping drive a major development push in the town, leading to strong sales of existing hotel properties.

Seven major tourism accommodation projects are scheduled to begin construction next year, which collectively will contribute up to 1,300 new beds within the next three years.

Broome First National executive director Allan Griffiths said hotel listings were usually hard to source, however a number of hotel properties had come onto the market during the past year, most recently the $20 million sale of the Mangrove Hotel on Roebuck Bay.

Gilligans Backpackers Hotel and Resort group plans to transform part of the four-star Mangrove Hotel into up-market backpacker accommodation dubbed the ‘Flashpackers’, similar to its resort-style Gilligans Backpackers in Cairns.

Mr Griffiths said the growth of the oil and gas industry in the region and increased destination marketing had given investors more confidence by increasing property values and attracting more tourists.

“Hotel sales don’t normally come that thick and fast but the market has a lot of confidence these days,” he said. “Try to book for the peak season of July and August next year and you won’t be able to get a room anywhere.”

On the Cable Beach side of the peninsula, the Ocean Lodge Hotel was sold last month for $5.7 million to Perth investment house Churchill Capital on behalf of a private syndicate, including West Perth-based Charter Property.

Charter Property was also part of a syndicate that, with Churchill Capital, bought the 3.5-star Tropicana Inn on the corner of Robinson and Saville streets for $5.3 million last year .

The group is embarking on a $30 million extension to the inn next year comprising 251 rooms built over three stages.

Other new accommodation projects to begin in 2007 include Paspaley Group’s Pinctada Resort on Murray Road featuring 58-units, and Mr Griffiths’ own long-planned resort at 2,230 Cable Beach Road, next to the Crocodile Park.

The yet-to-be-named $25 million hotel will feature 64 rooms, commercial shop-fronts, restaurant, a cafe and a 40-metre swimming pool.

In addition, development of the long-planned Eco Beach eco-cabins at Cape Villaret by developer Karl Plunkett is about to start, as are the addition of 26 apartments to the Seashells Resort on Cable Beach and the 68-room extension to the four-star Mercure Inn Continental on Weld Street.

Shire of Broome president Graeme Campbell said the town was going through a vibrant period of development, with tourist numbers building gradually since 2001.

However, his main concern was finding housing for the builders required to get the hotel projects started.

“We have well over 200 jobs available in Broome at the moment but where do we accommodate these people? There are a couple of proposals out there to set up transit accommodation villages, but these are really only short-term solutions,” Mr Campbell said.

A committee member of the Broome International Gateway Project, Mr Campbell is confident the town can secure two international flights each week from Singapore next year and said North West Tourism was speaking with three interested airlines.

While negotiations continue on the flight front, major plans are taking shape to develop up to seven hectares of land to the rear of the iconic Cable Beach Club.

Cable Beach Club owner Hawaiian is planning to submit a rezoning application on the land to the state government next year, in preparation for three potential resorts encompassing a mixture of tourism, commercial and residential uses.

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