25/03/2003 - 21:00

MICE - Award cap off Burswood upgrade

25/03/2003 - 21:00

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BURSWOOD International Resort Casino believes the major refurbishment completed in late 2001 leaves it well placed to face extra competition in the MICE market.

MICE - Award cap off Burswood upgrade

BURSWOOD International Resort Casino believes the major refurbishment completed in late 2001 leaves it well placed to face extra competition in the MICE market.

Managing director John Schaap has been buoyed by the positive response to Burswood’s $96 million redevelopment, which was the most significant change the resort has made since opening in 1985.

The redevelopment has helped Burswood win a series of State and national awards, including the meetings and business tourism award at the Australian Tourism Awards earlier this year.

Burswood also won the Sir David Brand award, the State’s top tourism award, at last November’s WA Tourism Awards.

A key selling point for Burswood is the combination of convention and exhibition facilities, accommodation, food outlets and entertainment on a single site near to the city.

The redevelopment helped to maximise this advantage.

It included construction of the 1,800-seat grand ballroom, located alongside the existing 1,000-seat plaza ballroom and the 2,300-seat theatre.

To complement the convention facilities, new meeting and boardroom facilities were dev-eloped.

Burswood completely refurbished its 413-room hotel, developed new dining outlets and bars, and built the Ruby Room nightclub.

Mr Schaap is particularly pleased with the grand ballroom, which he described as “absolutely right” in terms of its size, layout and facilities.

He said one group to have benefited was the State’s charities, which had been “stretched to the limit at other venues”.

For instance, the West Coast Eagles held a charity auction at the grand ballroom with 1,000 guests.

Mr Schaap claimed there was currently no real competition for big events, since there were no other purpose-built facilities with the same capacity.

He acknowledged the opening of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre would make things more competitive, including for the Burswood Dome.

Usage of the dome has already declined and Mr Schaap acknowledged it does not provide an adequate financial return.

While the dome’s future needs to be reviewed, Burswood is continuing to take bookings for the facility several years ahead.

Mr Schaap said Burswood’s new dining facilities enabled the resort to cope with big demand prior to big shows.

“We simply weren’t able to feed people quickly enough,” he said in reference to the old facilities.

Mr Schaap also acknowledged that the Ruby Room had produced “mixed” results.

“Friday and Saturday nights haven’t been a problem but other nights have been more difficult,” Mr Schaap said.

To address this problem the nightclub is now available for events such as corporate functions, fashion parades and cocktail parties.

While the combination of facilities on one site has been a selling point for Burswood, it has also created traffic and parking problems.

Mr Schaap believes satisfactory solutions have been developed, helped by the new access road to

the Graham Farmer Freeway, the provision of extra on-site parking and the inclusion of free rail tickets with concert bookings.

“Its not quite as chronic as it used to be,” he said. “It only raises its head when we have a huge event.”

But the development of Burswood has not ended. The company is currently refurbishing some of its restaurants and is planning a new three-and-a-half-star hotel, which it aims to complete by the end of 2004.

Subject to completion of negotiations, the new hotel is to be developed by international group Six Continents Hotels and Resorts.

“The development will enable us to cater to the high demand for additional capacity and an alternative style of accommodation in the resort, particularly during conventions and events,” Mr Schaap said.

He explained that the current hotel was often fully booked during major shows and on weekends.

Burswood’s results for the half-year to December 2002 showed some of the benefits of the refurbishment program.

Revenue from convention and entertainment services grew by 81 per cent to $10 million.

The company said the opening of new facilities attracted a more diverse range and considerably greater number of events to the resort.

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