March 10, 2023 | By Graeme Kemlo

A 160-room hotel is planned for Phillip Island in a ‘back to the future’ development to reinstate the locals’ former pub, the Isle of Wight, that burned down twice, most recently in 2010.

If successful, the planning application just lodged with Bass Coast Shire Council would see a $130 million development opposite the foreshore with a pool deck overlooking the bay, reminiscent of an Italian Riviera stay.

The application lodged by the developers, Moda, says it will include an upmarket restaurant, large-scale event space, a state-of-the-art wellness centre and a laneway-style retail precinct.

Moda believes the development, when operational, will provide up to $76 million a year to the local economy.

The project is backed by a group that includes billionaire Chris Morris, who made his fortune creating Computershare and now runs a number of hotels in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

A similar vision by developers saw the 1875 landmark Continental ‘Conti’ hotel in Sorrento at the southern end of Mornington Peninsula, open last August as the five-star InterContinental by IHG, following a $100 million transformation.

A holiday destination for Melburnians Phillip Island has an increasing resident population that swells significantly when its motor racing circuit stages the Moto-GP each year.

The island also hosts one of Victoria’s most successful tourist attractions, the Eco-certified Phillip Island Nature Parks which feature the nightly penguin parade, koalas and fur seal colony. The penguins alone attract more than 700,000 visitors a year, both local and international, especially from China and India.

Prior to COVID, the island had turned itself into an international cruise ship stop for day-trippers wanting to enjoy the unique range of wildlife activities.

Locals have long hoped for more accommodation to turn day visitors into one or two-night stays. Meanwhile meeting planners will welcome a 160-room hotel on an 8620m2 site, especially with extensive event space in the commercial heart of Cowes, just 90 minutes from Melbourne.

There is no indication whether the hotel, which is currently proposed to be part of Chris Morris’ Colonial Leisure Group will ultimately take on an international hotel brand, however the performance of the InterContinental Sorrento will likely be watched.

Phillip Island, which attracts 3.5 million visitors a year, also has an international television audience for its motor sports and its little penguins who were streamed live to 755,000 viewers at the height of the pandemic.

Moda plans to rebirth the Isle of Wight by 2025, subject to approval.