Sheraton Mirage set for $200m upgrade in Port Douglas

Nick Dalton

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

© The Cairns Post


THE jewel in the Port Douglas tourism crown, the Sheraton Mirage Resort, is to shine again with a $200-million-plus overhaul.

Plans by its owner, Melbourne-based theatre operator David Marriner and his Chinese investors, the Fullshare Group, include an upgrade of the resort, a new six-star guest property plus a new golf course.

The news comes as Cathay Pacific announced it would launch four non-stop flights between Cairns and Hong Kong, a move that will forge stronger links with one of Asia's foremost commercial hubs.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman revealed details of the Sheraton Mirage investment after his 16-day trade mission to China, Singapore, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Newman said the resort would have "a major refurbishment".

"They're contemplating not only doing up the existing resort but probably investing in a six-star resort on the existing site," he said.

The Fullshare Group owns Sheraton Mirage, Whisper Bay Apartments in the Whitsundays and Fullshare Laguna Resort near Proserpine.

"The company is planning to refurbish and upgrade all of its hotels, and intends to transform its Sheraton Marina Mirage in Port Douglas into a six-star resort and a five-star resort, with a total outlay of about $350 million," Mr Newman said.

"They are also planning a new golf course on site."

The Cairns Post understands the lion's share of the $350 million will be spent at Port Douglas.

Mr Marriner bought the resort in 2011 for $35 million and then with the Chinese investors from the Fullshare Group spent $56 million for the Whisper Bay resort at Airlie Beach.

Mr Newman said the proposals could not have come at a better time.

"My government has prioritised tourism as one of Queensland's four economic pillars and the international market has responded," he said.

"Indeed, this proposed development is recognition of how quickly the tourism industry has matured under the Newman Government, and the esteem with which North Queensland is regarded internationally.

"The developments will create jobs during the construction phase of the project, not to mention the ongoing operational jobs that would follow.

"I welcome the proposals and will be taking a personal interest in how these projects develop.

"Recent figures that show a 32 per cent spike in the number of visitors from China have fuelled confidence among tourism operators.

"We were able to make significant progress in our discussions with investors, and there was optimism among the delegates of an unprecedented period of growth in Queensland's tourism industry.

"We're also confident that we've taken steps towards persuading airlines to expand their services into our state.

"With a value of $14.8 billion a year, China is Queensland's single largest trading partner and we see great potential for Chinese investment to drive some of the major projects that Queensland needs.

"For example, there's a great opportunity for partnership between the Australian and Chinese business sectors to create new irrigation schemes on the Gilbert River in Queensland's Far North."

Ella Bay developer Rod Lamb, who was on the trade mission, is also confident of a start on his $1.4 billion eco-tourism project near Innisfail.

"I received a great deal of interest from investors on the mission, especially from the United Arab Emirates and in Singapore," he said.

"All things remaining equal we expect to see some major developments in the Ella Bay project over coming months.

"One of the reasons the project garnered so much international interest was the relentless effort the Newman Government, in particular the Premier, have put into its promotion."