BEACH HOTEL REPORTEDLY SOLD FOR $65m
bY Will Jackson
JOHN Cornell has finally found someone willing to stump up $65 million for his beloved Beach Hotel.
A consortium led by Victoria's van Haandel family reportedly agreed to pay the massive sum.
If the deal goes through, it will bring to an end years of speculation about who was going to take over the iconic Byron Bay property.
The sale has been expected since July last year when Cornell declared he was going to sell it due to ill health.
A range of potential buyers lined up for a crack at the watering hole, including North Queenslander Tom Hedley, Jamie Packer, Macquarie Bank and multi-millionaire entrepreneur Eddie Phillips.
Then last month it was revealed that the van Haandel family were doing serious due diligence.
Brothers John and Frank van Haandel are best known as the owners of several Melbourne venues, including the Prince of Wales and Stokehouse.
John van Haandel also owns a holiday house at Belongil which he bought in 2001 for $830,000.
He is believed to be heading a consortium which includes former Patrick chairman Peter Scanlon and members of the Myer family.
Fairfax newspapers reported he had signed an agreement to buy the Beach Hotel, but the van Haandels and Cornell are remaining shtum for the time being. They offered 'no comment' yesterday.
Cornell is believed to have chosen the van Haandels after they pledged to maintain the hotel in its current form.
The reported $65 million sale price sets an Australian record and blows the local highwater-mark ? the $14 million paid for the Lennox Point Hotel in 2005 -- out of the water.
Built in 1990 for $9 million, that's serious appreciation ? even by Byron's standards.
And while it may seem like a lot of money ? and it is ? the property does include the hotel, bottle shop, Fins restaurant, a luxurious 27-room motel and an apartment complex across the road.
Sources say it has an annual turnover of about $15 million.