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New five-star resort set for Port Douglas

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New five-star resort set for Port Douglas
A new $250 million five-star resort has just been approved for Port Douglas – the first five-star hotel build in the destination for two decades.

Melbourne developer Tim Gurner is behind the 112-room luxury resort and residences to be developed in the heart of the town.

The last luxury properties to be built in Port Douglas were the Pullman Sea Temple, which opened in 2000 and the Sheraton Grand Mirage, which was built by Christopher Skase back in 1987.

In 2020 Gurner submitted plans for a $60 million 18-room boutique hotel and 16 private residences on choice land beside Four Mile Beach. In 2022 plans were revised, but the project did not gain approval from the local council, which has decreed that no building should be higher than a palm tree – in reality this means a three-storey height limit. Attempts by a different developer to build a luxury Fairmont resort have also so far failed to gain approval.

Head of Business Events Cairns and Great Barrier Reef, Tara Bennett called the new development “fantastic news”.  

“It is needed for the business events sector and high end leisure visitor,” she said. 

Bennett said Tim Gurner had proved the impact of developing a great concept and approaching council differently by working closely with a local architect to effectively present a compliant plan for on the new hotel.

The approved development is set on a much larger 26,000m2 plot of land than his failed 2020 project, located on Davidson Road, currently occupied by a backpackers’ facility and a caravan park.

The planning application was lodged in June, amended in September and approved unanimously at the April 30 meeting of council. Gurner expects work to commence in 2025.

Gurner announced approval for the project on his website last week, showcasing one of six “underwater” aquarium rooms as part of a large lagoon planned for the centre of the hotel, which promises to also deliver a range of amenities typical of European beach clubs. 

Around the perimeter of the hotel, the plan is to build 44 private villas of different sizes.

Bennett commented that this mixed-use development seemed to capture the future of the hotel industry and it was likely the private villas could become available as part of the hotel room stock when necessary.

Gurner Group intend to further amend an application for Murphy Street, which faced strong objection from locals. The plan now is to develop private residences only on the 2,800m2 site overlooking Four Mile Beach.

There is no indication as to whether meeting space is included in the forthcoming resort, but it promises 3,000m2 of outdoor amenity, which includes lagoon, bars, restaurants, a day spa and gym.

Bennett believes it will be a great addition to the incentive accommodation options in Port Douglas.

She said that following the very wet summer with cyclonic floods, the local tourism industry had settled down and May was “looking phenomenal” for business events, both corporate and some international and domestic incentives. Significant in the international market was Singapore Airlines’ decision to fly an Airbus A350 five times a week. 

“It gives us more capacity, including 30 business class seats direct from Singapore,” said Bennett.

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