An application for a new luxury hotel in Airlie Beach has gained momentum as developers supply more information about the plans. Photo: Contributed
An application for a new luxury hotel in Airlie Beach has gained momentum as developers supply more information about the plans. Photo: Contributed

UNVEILED: Plans for luxury hotel in heart of Airlie Beach

MORE details about a luxury hotel development at Port of Airlie have been revealed, with developers saying it could provide hundreds of jobs and inject millions into the economy.

Plans show a four to five-star hotel with 180 suites, a spa and fitness centre, yoga deck, pool terrace and amenities.

The hotel would also include an all-day dining restaurant and lobby bar, a specialty retail area and a roof terrace and bar as well as meeting and conference facilities.

The development is earmarked for the Port of Airlie precinct on a vacant lot opposite the Airlie Beach foreshore playground.

The shop, bars and restaurant would be open to the general public while the rest of the facilities would be reserved for guests only.

Developers hoped the proposed hotel would be operated by a high-end, international brand such as Accor, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Radisson, Sheraton or Marriott.

Developers hope the proposed hotel will be operated by a high-end, international brand such as Accor, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Radisson, Sheraton or Marriott.
Developers hope the proposed hotel will be operated by a high-end, international brand such as Accor, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Radisson, Sheraton or Marriott.

The original development application for the resort complex in Airlie Beach was lodged in December 2019.

However, officers at Whitsunday Regional Council requested more information about the community benefit of the project as well as clarification on the height of the building and parking considerations.

The original hotel proposal had 12 storeys, which exceeds the height outlined in the council's planning scheme.

The council sought clarification from developers on whether a 10, eight or six-storey building could be built instead.

An impression of the proposed hotel from the Airlie Beach foreshore.
An impression of the proposed hotel from the Airlie Beach foreshore.

A financial feasibility analysis conducted by Axsia found "hotel operating costs are essentially fixed and therefore to attract a quality brand and recognised hotel operator, more than 150 rooms would be critical, and some 180 rooms has been recommended".

Developers concluded "there is a clear need for the development of the hotel as a 12-storey development".

However, in the new plans that show levels for both restuarants/retail and accommodation, the developers reduced the number of accommodation levels from 10 to nine.

This means plans still show a 12-storey hotel, however the height has been slightly reduced from 49.9m to 46.7m.

The development would be built within the Port of Airlie precinct on a vacant lot opposite the Airlie Beach foreshore playground.
The development would be built within the Port of Airlie precinct on a vacant lot opposite the Airlie Beach foreshore playground.

The council also sought clarification on the demand and benefit the proposal would have on Airlie Beach.

Access Town Planning Consultants, which acted on behalf of the developers, stated there was "a strong need for the proposed development" for the region's economy and community.

The proposal was pegged to draw $77 million in direct and indirect construction, more than 800 associated jobs and $3.6 million in visitor expenditure a year.

However, an Axsia report found there were several preconditions for the development that would be needed for it to be "viable and sustainable".

These included planned improvements to Whitsunday Coast Airport, including an expansion over time to support international arrivals, as well as improved amenities, such as restaurants and shopping, and tourism experiences in Airlie Beach.

An impression of the proposed hotel from Airlie Beach.
An impression of the proposed hotel from Airlie Beach.

Questions were also raised over the "visual impact" a high-rise hotel would have on the town.

However, developers argued the building would "enhance the visual amenity of the local area through the introduction of its modern and attractive architectural design and standard of finishes, as well as the high standard of landscaping design proposed".

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The application also stated the "height variation is part of the way in which the proposed development will enhance the visual amenity of the local area and constitute an identifiable and attractive landmark within the townscape".

The development has been the cause of community angst since it was put to the council last year with opposition from community groups Fight for Airlie and Save Our Foreshore.

Earlier this year, Whitsunday Regional Council's director of development services Neil McGaffin acknowledged council had received an application for a 12-storey, 50m development, but noted it had been returned to the developers with a request for further detailed information.

Mr McGaffin said when the additional information was submitted, it would be open for public consultation before being presented to the council.

The application has not yet been listed on the council website for public submissions.


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