Christian Today in December covered the plight of Resorts in an article titled "Resort industry all over the place, some unearthing riches untold, other a complete shemozzle'.(au.christiantoday.com)
That article cited numerous resorts such as at Stradbroke Island, the Whitsundays, even happy Bay, Long Island which my grand-father established in 1934, and not least the famous Laguna Quays Resort, a little south of Proserpine on Repulse Bay.
The Townsville Bulletin provided an overview of the project in January 2011explaining that in 1997, Mr David Marriner and fund Cbus acquired Laguna Quays from Village Roadshow for $13 million, as the developer acquired Cbus's interest, gaining full control of the resort in 2002, he announced a $1 billion development plan for the holding. (www.townsvillebulletin.com.au)
The on the 14 July this year (2012) the same newspaper headlined Laguna Quays Resort as the "The dud of all duds!" Daniel Bateman wrote: "Welcome to Club Dread. Once regarded as a jewel in the crown of the Whitsundays' resorts, Laguna Quays is no longer the beacon of opulence that opened 50km south of Airlie Beach, about 20 years ago. (www.townsvillebulletin.com.au)
The former luxury property has fallen upon ruin, with weeds allowed to climb up balconies and spill into rooms, and the spectacular pool now resembling a swamp. The resort, which closed its doors, once employed 230 staff including 20 greenkeepers. It had a 60-room golf lodge, 81 condominiums and villas, a racquet club, huge lagoon pool, and a 70-berth marina.
Eamonn Duff has David Marriner front and central in Port Douglas as well. The Sheraton Mirage in 2010 suffererd a $492,000 loss, but since then, the Melbourne property developer David Marriner and a Chinese investment group have snapped up the 294-room resort for a cut-price $35 million - a third of what it cost the disgraced tycoon (Christopher) Skase to build it in the 1980s.
Its location is something to behold, and nobody denies, says Duff, it's in desperate need of a makeover. In 2011, Marriner announced plans for a major refurbishment and turned to both the Queensland and federal governments for a ''modest financial contribution'', not to upgrade his own resort but to help develop nearby conference facilities and other assets, such as a theatre, from which the whole town could benefit.
The area's federal MP, Warren Entsch, described the Mirage as the ''Inca stone'' of the town. ''It's by far the biggest employer in the town. It needed a new owner with vision - and now it's got one. Mr Marriner has funding in place for his own refurbishments so it's high time our respective governments showed the same commitment to this town. Port Douglas has to succeed. The success of the entire region depends on it.'
Laguna Quays Resort
Should David Marriner have money to refurbish anything, in my view, it needs to be the Laguna Quays Resort and there are two basic common sense reasons:
The Whitsundays region is suffering like no other Australian tourism destination - at least four Resorts have closed. Its also crippling the astonishingly extensive ferry waterways industries. The International marketing of Australia has the Whitsundays front and centre. Laguna Quays Resort and its international golfing and marina are credentials without blemish to any tourism intake.
If Queensland and Federal money is going to be thrown around into a Resort town campaign, surely the Whitsundays and the expanding Laguna Quays, Midge Point, Bloomsbury areas is the way to go. The Whitsundays (Proserpine) airport is twenty minutes away, that's like Double Bay to Mascot, or Hurstville to Mascot. Its only 60 minutes to Mackay and 45 to Airlie. The coal mining industry has a very close eye on this area for their mining families. The Laguna Quays Resort is central to all this. (au.christiantoday.com)
Someone recognises all this – as it is good to see that Lindeman Island is now getting a $200m makeover refurbishing the old Club Med resort, through a Chinese company, White Horse Australia. www.whitsundaytimes.com.au
To put the cat among the pigeons, Port Douglas has exactly the opposite and therefore pitfalls for resurrecting the region with such huge public money outlays.
Port Douglas has always stood alone and has a history, extolled in Eamonn Duff's article, that frowns on any sense of big brother. The National's Warren Entsch and independent Bob Katter play the anti-big brother card as if its gone out of fashion. en.wikipedia.org
Cairns airport is a long way from Port Douglas. The mining industry's interests are in the Bowen Basin, Laguna Quays territory, not that of the outer regions toward Cooktown and Cape York.
Moreover, Well-Being Australia has its respite cottage for missionaries at Laguna Quays (one street down) on Repulse Bay. And now we've established the Basil Sellers $2000 Midge Point Art Prize launched not two weeks ago for the area.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html