October 25, 2022 | By Graeme Kemlo

Further details about the development of a multi-million-dollar resort in the Grampians reveal it will be operated by regional accommodation group Mandala and will generate significant international visitation.

In an interview with micenet, the owner of Australian Wildflowers Jo Gardner revealed that her wildflower farms in the Mt Zero area had lost a growing market of European and US visitors during COVID, but she expected it to return strongly and potentially boost stays in the region once her Mt Zero Resort opened in 2024.

She also announced the appointment of regional hospitality operators Mandala to manage the property once it was built. Mandala have 12 properties (from three star to five star) owned or under management from Darwin to Cairns, the Queensland coast and regional New South Wales. The Mt Zero Resort marks their first property in Victoria.

Gardner, who was born and grew up in the Grampians, said the local community were strongly behind the project and it was a deliberate decision to choose a regional operator rather than a major city brand.

“What really attracted us to Mandala was that they only operate with regionally based assets, which is critical because I think there’s a real difference operating in a regional area versus an urban area,” she said.

“We live here, we work here, we’ve got fellow business operators in the region…it is being driven by people who understand what it is to live in a region and to develop our own assets.

“I am pretty excited by the whole idea that local people are investing in our own future and investing in our own infrastructure.”

While Mandala own and operate some brands of their own, they also operate properties under Accor brands, including Mantra, Mercure and Ibis Styles, as well as Best Western and Rydges, so it is possible the 40-room Grampians property could be internationally aligned to Accor.

The resort’s event space has also recently been doubled.  Working with authorities on bushfire management, Gardner said the resort would now also have a large underground space, The Hall, glassed in at one end and able to shelter guests during an emergency, while in normal times providing regular meeting space for 80 to 100 people.

This is in addition to the ground floor event space, The Pavilion. In total the resort will be able to cater for 180-200 guests concurrently across the two spaces.

Sustainability was a major factor in the choice of architects for the resort, Gardner said.

 “We’re using Troppo Architects out of Adelaide who are very well known for sustainable developments and off-grid developments, which is really important to us so we can offer an experience that reflects the nature of the land that you are in and the sensitivity of the site.”

The resort will be built at the head of the Grampians Peaks Trail, opened earlier this year, that stretches 160 km from Mt Zero through Halls Gap to Dunkeld.