10/12/2009 - 00:00

Regions join the meet market

10/12/2009 - 00:00

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WITH more than half a dozen new conference facilities and function venues opening in regional Western Australia during the past year, businesses planning their next corporate getaway are spoilt for choice.

WITH more than half a dozen new conference facilities and function venues opening in regional Western Australia during the past year, businesses planning their next corporate getaway are spoilt for choice.

And despite a notable downturn in corporate business during the past 12 months, these facilities are confident about the growing demand for their services.

There has been a hive of activity in the north-west in particular, with three hotels opening during the past eight months, each with their own unique offering for business travellers and corporate groups.

Operating on Roebuck Bay since June (an hour south of Broome), the Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat has conference facilities that can cater for up to 80 delegates.

Eco Beach owner Karl Plunkett believes it is the most spectacular conference destination in Australia and good value for money.

“We do anything from team building stuff using facilitators to full-on incentive stuff where we organise sailing boats and barbeques on the beach, and different activities,” Mr Plunkett says.

“You’re there for 24 hours a day, whether it’s relaxing with a fishing rod or a beer in your hand, and you haven’t disappeared or gone into the township, so everyone is there full time, which means value for money.”

Roebuck Bay neighbour, the $40 million 225-room Oaks Broome, can host 120 people in its glass-walled restaurant and function area, although delegates will need to provide their own audio-visual and presentation equipment.

Oaks Broome general manager Tina Broadhurst says the attraction of the Kimberley as a meeting venue, especially to the Swiss and German markets, has led the business to start planning the construction of a separate convention centre on the site, which will seat 150 people, to be completed by April 2010.

Famous pearling family matriarch Marilynne Paspaley’s $33 million Pinctada Resort & Spa in Broome opened in May, and while its conference facilities are smaller than some others, with a capacity of up to 50 people, the facility’s general manager, Michael Hughes, says the high-tech services available provide global video conferencing options.

“We may be small but we pack a punch,” Mr Hughes told Business

To the state's south there's a similarly healthy mix of corporate facilities available, the largest and newest being the Margaret River Convention Centre, which opened in November as part of the expanded and refurbished Australis Margaret River Hotel, formerly All Seasons Margaret River.


The Singaporean owners committed to the $1 million refurbishment investment following strong conference and events demand for the 300-person venue in 2008.

Overlooking the Southern Ocean at Nanarup, 25 minutes east of Albany, there's a 6,000 square metre private retreat, which, for most of the past 20 years, was the family home of the late
In the past six months, the new owners (bought in 2006) of the luxurious homestead, named 'Maitraya' have thrown open its doors to the corporate market.


Eight bedrooms can accommodate 16 guests with corporate clients utilising five rooms (an atrium, boardroom, lounge and dining room and a theatre) for meetings and functions, while a 900-metre airstrip and helipad ensures privacy where required.


Seashells Yallingup and Caves House Hotel owner, Paul King, is expecting a surge in demand next year for the two theatre rooms available at the historic pub, with a combined capacity of 200 people, after major refurbishments to both accommodation facilities in 2007.
"I think there are signs, especially with some of these projects coming on, that we could find ourselves pretty busy again," Mr King says.

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