A $60 million luxury "five-star and beyond" resort operated by a premier international hotel group will spring up on the Cape Leeuwin waterfront near Margaret River - provided a local developer is granted council approval.
Perth developer Rothchester Pty Ltd has planned the tourist resort along a stretch of Dead Finish Bay 1km east of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse on 4.2ha it has agreed to buy from Augusta Marine Resources.
Rothchester managing director Ron Tondut said there was a lack of a luxury international resort brand presence in WA and he expected a decision on the amended resort plan from the Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council within five months.
The Cape Leeuwin resort will be linked to two other planned Rothchester developments under the same international hotel brand - a boutique "five-star plus" resort on a Margaret River vineyard and a 140-room four-star Beaufort Street hotel, which is awaiting a decision from the Town of Vincent in September.
"It is about continuity," Mr Tondut said. "The idea is that you can fly in, be taken straight to the Beaufort Street hotel and then be flown down to spend time on the beach down south or stay on a world-class vineyard for a while - or one or all three."
He would not reveal the four international hotels he was in talks with to operate the sites but said two were operator-investors who were offering to sign on as joint venture partners.
Mr Tondut described the 100-room Cape Leeuwin development as "Gucci territory", and expected between 20 and 30 per cent of the guests to hail from overseas, mainly Asia.
Rothchester had spent several years targeting prospective "high net-worth" clients through marketing programs, promoting the resort's unhindered views of one of the most popular whale-watching areas of the south coast as well as the region's old growth forests, vineyards, arts and crafts and breweries.
"The resort has 40 dual-key (dual-room) large villas with spectacular views at 130sqm internal so they're monsters, and a large section of them will have their own heated swimming pools," Mr Tondut said. "Each villa will have two 40sqm en suite rooms, 50sqm of living space and an 80sqm deck, part of which will be sunken to be more intimate."
The villas will be 20m from the beach. The rooms would cost between $5500/sqm and $6000/sqm each to build and accommodation costs per night would range from $500 to more than $1000 per room.
"At the moment in St Georges Terrace we could build a five-star hotel with two levels of underground parking for $5000-$5500/sqm, so that gives you some idea of the scale of the luxury at Cape Leeuwin," Mr Tondut said.
A private runway capable of landing a 120-seater plane is about five minutes from the planned resort.
Twenty, single-key 50sqm suites will also be built in the main section of the hotel, with "spectacular landscaping" around a communal pool. A fine-dining restaurant employing international chefs and an upmarket cafe using fresh produce from the Margaret River region and an alfresco dining area will also feature.
The resort would take 2 1/2 years to build and sit next to a $9 million abalone facility, which Mr Tondut said had made a "real impression" with international hotel groups because of the popularity of shellfish with Asian guests.
"It will be a cellar door experience for the guests" he said. "They can get fresh abalone or crustaceans and barbecue them there or bring them up to the fine dining restaurant at our resort and have our international chefs prepare them."
Development approval for a joint tourism-abalone project on the site, planned by Augusta Marine Resources and a consortium of local fisherman, lapsed about a year ago.
Two Oceans Abalone is in the process of establishing a green lip abalone hatchery, on 3ha, leaving Rothchester with the task of developing the 4.2ha tourist resort component, subject to shire approval of its amended plan, which has fewer rooms than the original.
Hawaii-based architecture Group WATG - which counts Claridge's hotel in London and the Mansion at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as clients - is behind the plans for all three of Rothchester's developments, in conjunction with local architecture firm Woodhead.
The $40 million hotel at 381 Beaufort Street, will take about one year, eight months to build.
Negotiations for Rothchester's 60-room vineyard resort were in their final stages. A deal is expected within four weeks.
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