24/10/2006 - 22:00

Fresh direction at El Caballo

24/10/2006 - 22:00


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The arena at the former El Caballo Blanco will echo to the clattering hooves of a new generation of Andalusian stallions from next year, as the resort’s new owners embark on a multi-million dollar upgrade.

The arena at the former El Caballo Blanco will echo to the clattering hooves of a new generation of Andalusian stallions from next year, as the resort’s new owners embark on a multi-million dollar upgrade.

Since buying the 37-hectare Wooroloo property in March for an undisclosed sum, property developer Mathew Pavlinovich and his family have refurbished all 40 accommodation units and four Flamenco conference rooms, which are now ready to host up to 800 delegates.

The El Caballo Resort is located an hour east of Perth and still boasts a range of facilities, including a 120-seat restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, spa and sauna, gymnasium, tennis courts and access to an 18-hole golf course nearby.

Mr Pavlinovich, a former bankrupt whose name featured among the finance brokers that caused a political storm in late 1990s (see addendum below), said he still felt a connection to the resort after his involvement with showjumping there many years ago, and watching his young son achieve showjumping records at El Caballo in later years.

“I still ride and my whole family has ridden horses for over 40 years,” he said.

“It was hard watching the property in decline for so long, but in the end it certainly came down to being a commercial decision to buy it.”

His company, MMP Management Services Pty Ltd, is the sixth entity to own the property, which was first established in 1971 as El Caballo Blanco by Ray Williams.

Over the next 20 years, Mr Williams ran a successful tourist attraction showcasing elaborately dressed Spanish Andalusian horses to packed grandstands.

The lights on the show eventually dimmed in the late 1980s, before the property was sold to a syndicate in 1990 for $4.65 million.

In 1993, the resort was sold to a Malaysian investment company for $2.5 million. A golf course was later constructed nearby.

El Caballo’s checkered history continued until the resort eventually closed down in late 2003, with the golf course also sold.

The property was on the market in May 2005 for $5.75 million.

Mr Pavlinovich said he planned to build a store on the site to showcase the best of Western Australia’s gourmet produce, starting with a selection of wines, olives and olive products, cheeses, chocolates and ice creams.

He hoped the store would be ready in time for El Caballo’s first four horse shows beginning February 17 next year.

“I went to Spain and bought four stallions and have even tracked down three of the original Spanish trainers who will be returning for the show,” Mr Pavlinovich said.

“We’re calling it, the ‘Return of the Three Amigos’.”

The family has already gathered generous local support for the show, ahead of a full marketing campaign over Christmas.

In addition to preparing for the show, Mr Pavlinovich is waiting for re-zoning approval from his local council before subdividing part of his property overlooking the golf course into 61 lots of 0.4ha.

He said the process was likely to take a further nine months, but was confident the lots would sell quickly once on the market.

Mr Pavlinovich is no stranger to finding opportunities in the property market.

His company, Torcrest Developments, has sold properties along Adelaide Terrace and Hay Street in Perth, and is currently developing a 91-apartment tower project called Quattro at 251 Hay Street.

Addendum: Below is an extract from WA Business News editorial published the week following this story.

It pays to check the fine print

There has been much gnashing of teeth among the editorial team in the WA Business News office after we ran a story last week that lacked the research and background our readers would expect of us.

Matthew Pavlinovich received a great bit of press from us about his recent purchase of El Caballo Blanco and his plans to revive the Wooroloo equestrian-based tourist centre and sub divide the property.

However, some background detail in our piece last week probably would have helped readers put the matter in context.

Mr Pavlinovich was embroiled in the finance brokers scandal and was named in parliament last year, along with his daughter and son-in-law, by Attorney-General Jim McGinty, among those who featured during that notorious period in the late 1990s.

The irony is that Mr Pavlinovich believes he can make a go of El Caballo when he has twice entered Part X bankruptcy as a proprietor of a riding school.

A search of the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia records shows that, while both those occasions occurred more than 30 years ago at the Caversham Riding School, the now 69-year-old managed to end up dealing with bankruptcy on two further occasions.

Once was in 1989, as a result of a debtors petition, and the latest was by arrangement in 2000 when his occupation was listed as property developer. He was discharged from the latest bankruptcy later that year.

While we never wish anyone ill will and believe everyone has a right to rehabilitation, we do feel that a record as flawed as this ought to get an airing.

Mind you, El Caballo is hardly easy pickings. It has struggled for decades and been a burden for multiple owners. 



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