The West

The main bar is less than 4m long, a thirsty miner can't get a drink without buying a meal and during its 100-year plus history it has been rocked by cyclones more than once.

But still, Port Hedland's Esplanade Hotel has sold for more than $30 million.

In what is believed to be the biggest hospitality property sale in the North West, Perth-based pharmacists Con Berbatis and Fonda Grapsas took possession of the 4 ½-star hotel this week.

Terms of the sale remain a secret but _The Weekend West _understands it was nudging $35 million.

Mr Berbatis, who part-owns Perth's Holiday Inn City Centre, said unmet demand for business and tourist short-stay accommodation in Port Hedland, along with the historic hotel's charm, provided a strong business case.

"The rapid increase in economic activity in the Pilbara is driving demand for short-stay accommodation and improved food, beverage and entertainment in Port Hedland," Mr Berbatis said.

A major expansion of the Esplanade over the past two years has increased the number of rooms fourfold to 108.

Further upgrades include a new kitchen, another restaurant area with alfresco dining and a new liquor licence.

CBRE Hotels Perth senior director David Kennedy said the sale had set a new benchmark in the North West.

"A similar size hotel in Perth wouldn't fetch much different," he said. "It's a very good price. I think you would be pretty safe in saying that $30 million is the biggest price that's been achieved (in the North West)."

Other significant sales in the North West in recent times include Port Hedland's Walkabout Hotel, which was sold in two separate transactions for a combined $25 million.

But the Esplanade's selling agent, Hedland First National's Serge Doumergue, said no other sale came close. "This is a record, for sure," he said.

Doug Gould said he bought the Esplanade for $2.5 million in 2007 but money spent on expansion meant the sale would not allow for "a very big holiday". <div class="endnote">


The West Australian

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