Discovery launches Rottnest glamping
Rottnest’s first new accommodation in 30 years was officially launched last week, with a $25 million glamping site set to open to the public on March 1.
The eco-resort is a joint venture between Discovery Parks Australia and Baileys Group, a company that previously owned the Rottnest Express ferries and currently operates the Thomsons Rottnest restaurant.
Built into the sand dunes behind Pinky Beach and the Bathurst Lighthouse, Discovery – Rottnest Island features 83 eco tents – permanent units with inbuilt bathrooms, constructed from canvas walls that can be opened to the elements.
The tents range in price from $119 to $600 a night, and were supplied by Fremantle-based Eco Structures Australia.
The lower price range will secure a basic two-person tent, while the upper range gives guests access to a deluxe room overlooking the beach with a walk-in robe and kitchen.
Discovery chief executive Grant Wilckens said the resort had been designed primarily for Western Australian locals, catering to a range of budgets.
“It’s a resort room under canvas, but our DNA as Discovery is about affordable accommodation, and we want to make sure the island and this property is open to everybody, not just to the top end of the market,” Mr Wilckens told Business News.
“It’s different from your average resort or hotel where you go on your own; the idea here is to encourage people to mix and mingle.
“Yes, you can come here with your friends, but if you don’t, you can also make friends on the property.”
A standard tent can be booked for $119 a night.
He expects the resort to bring in revenue of around $4 million a year.
Discovery owns glamping tents at Byron Bay and the Barossa Valley, but Rottnest will be the only property consisting entirely of this accommodation style.
The tents on the property are clustered around common barbecue areas, as well as the central pool, bar, and the Pinky’s Beach Club.
The entire area is licensed, with visitors encouraged to take food and drink from the club back to their accommodation.
While other facilities such as a spa may be on the horizon, Mr Wilckens said the top priority for the JV would be to partner with existing experiences and organisations on the island to encourage future stays.
Rottnest was by nature a community space, he said, and the resort would not be closed off to the general public.
The resort centres on a pool and bar area in addition to a new restaurant, Pinky's Beach Club.
He said dune rehabilitation was also currently under way, and steps had been taken to ensure the area remained attractive to Rottnest’s best-known resident, the quokka.
“We’ve created a haven for quokkas, because they all like going under the accommodation, in the shade, and enjoying themselves,” Mr Wilckens said.
“There’s a lot of rehab we’ve done already, but the rehab of the dunes is a big part of what we’ve got to do.
“We’ve got a mesh that goes down, then you plant within that.
“The quokkas obviously love the new vegetation as well.”
Mr Wilckens said while many developers had previously attempted to build on Rottnest, the JV’s success came down to previous knowledge of the island, and factoring in the high cost of transport.
In addition to the resort, the JV has developed staff accommodation on the adjoining Kelly Street, which has been used as housing for builders over the past few months.
The resort will employ 70 staff, with over 40 to be housed onsite.
Rottnest’s new eco-resort is not the only new accommodation for the island, after the state government announced plans for an expansion of the Hotel Rottnest mid last year.
The upgrade is aimed at providing premium accommodation, with an additional 80 rooms and a near doubling in size to 17,800 square metres.
Owned by the Prendiville Group, the resort will be renamed Hotel Rottnest Resort, and is set to include four pools, a restaurant, function room, gym and rooftop bar.
Building will begin in May and is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.
The journalist travelled to the site courtesy of Discovery - Rottnest Island.