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Luxury spa stays proposed for 12 Apostles

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Luxury spa stays proposed for 12 Apostles
The Great Ocean Road’s incentive potential has suffered from a lack of luxury accommodation. That could be about to change.

A 79-hectare site opposite the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria is being offered for sale, complete with plans approved for the 12 Apostles Hot Springs Resort including luxury accommodation and conferencing facilities.

Melbourne-based Neil Architecture’s plans include a hot springs bathing complex of more than 3,300m2, a 12-room spa, meeting and event space, an amphitheatre and up to 150 luxury eco-pods of accommodation. It has been designed to allow for both private resort guests and day spa visitors.

The 12 Apostles – a unique formation of limestone rock outcrops that have been carved off the cliffs by the action of the Southern Ocean – are 271 km from Melbourne, or more than four hours’ drive, making the addition of premium accommodation to the area a drawcard for incentive groups.

A return day trip is challenging because the best times to see the Apostles are dawn and dusk.

Some incentive programs have included helicopter flights from the city, which take 75 minutes each way and can cost up to $6,000 or $1,650 a head, however matching the aerial experience with high-end accommodation has been the missing piece of the puzzle. Towns along the route, including Anglesea, Apollo Bay and Lorne are popular places for leisure visitors from Melbourne, with many owning local beach houses.

Great Ocean Road Tourism is keen to extend the overnight stays of the 2.8 million visitors a year who drive some or all of the iconic stretch of road  and the message from general manager Liz Price on their website is pretty clear: “We need to encourage visitors to see the breadth and depth of what we have to offer, to encourage them to stay longer, travel further, spend more money and to come back again and again.”

There have been concerns that too many visitors arrive to drive the heritage-listed road said to be ‘the world’s longest memorial’.  

It starts in Torquay and winds 243km alongside the rugged Shipwreck Coast and was constructed by returning WWI soldiers, opening in 1932.

A major project with accommodation and facilities proposed for the 12 Apostles area could provide a major point of focus and a reason to stay and explore more of the region.

With an estimated project value of about $200 million, it is being offered for sale via international expressions of interest. The vendors say it comes with planning approval, Environment Protection Authority approval, a licence to bore for thermal springs, and it could potentially attract a state government grant of about $7 million.

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