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How 'stay and play' mantra could carry Coast tourism back to its glory days


Unprecedented investment in new hotels is pushing the Gold Coast’s holiday playground reputation into overdrive as the city gambles on new accommodation to dominate all sectors of the stay-and-play market.

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Dreamworld’s unveiling of a $75 million plan for a new hotel and tourist park is the latest shot in the Gold Coast’s theme park duel to attract families to the Gold Coast to stay and play.

At the other end of the market, The Star Gold Coast’s Dorsett hotel and apartments, heavily supported by a luxury ‘stay-and-play’ campaign, is rapidly rising over the Broadbeach skyline as The Star transforms into Australia’s only integrated resort to boast four hotels.

The Gold Coast hotel building frenzy comes as the city has amped up its ‘famous for fun’ push following the devastation of the tourism industry by COVID-19 and border closures.

The Gold Coast suffered a loss of 5.5 million visitors during 2020, down 39 per cent on 2019 figures.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said it was critical for the Gold Coast to have an edge over other cities vying for the return of tourists, with the ‘stay-and-play’ theme central to the industry’s recovery.

Ardent Leisure’s ASX announcement that it had appointed accommodation developer Evolution Group to build a new Dreamworld Resort accommodation precinct comes just days after Village Roadshow confirmed it was also planning to build a new hotel at Movie World.

Village Roadshow currently dominates theme park stay-and-play accommodation with Australia’s only theme park resort at Sea World.

But its proposal for a nine-storey, 398-room “Hotel V” theme park hotel, proposed to be built on land that is currently taken up by the Movie World carpark, would double its family-friendly offering.

In a challenge to Village Roadshow’s accommodation dominance, however, Dreamworld said its four-star, 250-room hotel, 40 bungalows and a five-star tourist park with 100 powered sites would be built on land next door to the Dreamworld theme park.

Newly appointed Dreamworld CEO Greg Yong said the Dreamworld Resort would cater for local and interstate guests, with a broad range of family-friendly accommodation options, restaurants, swimming pools, gyms and conference facilities.

Guests would have access to exclusive offers and entry to Dreamworld and WhiteWater World throughout their stay.

“The hotel and tourist park will complement Dreamworld as a premium entertainment destination and add a new level of convenience for guests who will have our theme park and water park on their accommodation’s doorstep” Yong said.

At the higher end of the stay-and-play market, The Star Gold Coast’s construction of its newest $400 million hotel and luxury apartment tower has hit new milestones with the build of the 53-storey Dorsett hotel on track to top out in August and open in early 2022.

The Star’s General Manager Hotel and Residences, Mark Hodge, said the tower would contain 313 hotel rooms, plus 422 apartments on top of the hotel which meant people could live at the casino for the first time.

It was also the first time apartments have been added to the casino’s short-term stay-and-play accommodation pool.

“We’re currently pouring the slab for the 39th storey, so we’re well over halfway up the 53- storey build. The top of the formwork is now level 42,” Hodge said.

He said 92 per cent or 390 apartments had been sold.

“Agent activity has really picked up over the last month with a lot of agents moving attention to local markets,” he said.

“Apartment sales have continued strongly with six sales last week alone, with enquiries and sales coming mostly from local Gold Coast owner occupiers, and Melbourne and Sydney.”

The Star’s fast-tracking of new Gold Coast hotels also includes another 63-storey tower expected to open in 2024. The second $400 million hotel and apartment tower on its casino island precinct was started in February, with demolition works now completed and the build commencing on the 210 five-star hotel rooms and 457 apartments.

Also tapping the Gold Coast’s high-end hotel market will be a new “yacht hotel” in a proposed $100m redevelopment of Mariner’s Cove at The Spit.

Plans for the hotel and Chinese-themed seafood market and aquatic entertainment precinct at The Spit have been filed with council, with proponents Ridong claiming the development will become an icon of the Gold Coast and “check-in” destination for international tourists.



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