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Published 22 March 2012 17:58, Updated 23 March 2012 14:38
The downturn in the island and resort industry has made it more affordable to buy your own slice of paradise. In many cases, however, the low purchase price comes with the “renovator’s dream” tag line as these islands and resorts require a lot of developing and refurbishing as a result of cyclone damage and neglect. Only the wealthy may have what it takes to revamp the tourism industry.
BRW Rich 200 members and other wealthy Australians are buying up islands and resorts. Some are buying in for their personal leisure and others are looking to invest in the tourism and holiday resort industry.
The damage caused by Cyclone Yasi have made their purchases a bargain – as bananas went up, islands went down.
And more struggling island assets are predicted to come onto the market at distressed prices, encouraging other wealthy buyers to pick up ocean gems as private retreats.
Business is booming for real estate agents such as Peter Harper from Jones Lang LaSalle, who says buying an island resort is “a hell of a lot cheaper than anything you could get on the harbour front in Sydney and not much more than a beach front holiday home at Noosa”.
Computershare co-founder Chris Morris, whose assets may be worth as much as $621 million in this year’s BRW Rich list, bought Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef last year for $6.25 million.
Once valued at $52 million, the cyclone-tarnished Dunk Island south of Cairns, was bought for a bargain $7.5 million by Linc Energy founder and managing director Peter Bond, who plans to use the island as a private hideaway for his family.
Melbourne property developer David Marriner paid $35 million for the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas last year and the Charlton Hotel Group recently bought Bedarra Island Resort for $5 million.
Over on the west coast iron ore heiress Angela Bennett has spent big on establishing the eco-friendly North Port Quay resort, which is being built on top of stilts over the Indian Ocean of the coast of Freemantle.
Owning an island resort, however, can also generate serious returns, as billionaire Bob Oatley discovered when re-building the luxury Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island. Despite the threat from Cyclone Yasi, by Easter 2011 Oatley’s Hamilton Island resort was unharmed and fully booked. Now, Qualia Resort, with a $199 million lease for 99 years, is valued at more than $100 million and rising due to popular demand for travelling enthusiasts to holiday at the scenic wonderland.
If all this inspires you, the Club Med resort on Lindeman Island in the far north of Queensland has just been discounted by $2 million to $10 million. But you’ll have to be quick, because mining magnate Clive Palmer, who owns the Hyatt Regency Coolum, and trucking billionaire Lindsay Fox are rumoured to be tyre kicking with a view to gain exposure to a potential upswing in the tourism sector.