The Byron pub with no Strop

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

YEARS of speculation over the sale of Byron Bay's iconic Beach Hotel officially come to an end today.

As of this morning, John 'Strop' Cornell is no longer the owner of the town's 'top pub'.

The world-famous watering hole's new owners are a consortium headed by John and Lisa van Haandel, who also own several Melbourne venues, including The Prince of Wales and The Stokehouse.

The van Haandels are from Victoria, but own a holiday house at Belongil, which they bought in 2001 for $830,000. Neither Cornell nor the van Haandels have been willing to divulge the final sale price of the Beach Hotel, however, it is rumoured to be in the vicinity of $65 million an Australian record for a hotel.

Beach Hotel manager Terry McCulloch said it had been a busy past 24 hours preparing for the handover.

However, he said there would be no immediate sweeping changes to the hotel and all staff would be maintained. A hotel staff member, who did not wish to be identified, also told The Northern Star that long-term employees had received farewell bonus payments from Mr Cornell.

Since confirming the sale, the van Haandels have assured the community that they would continue the hotel's tradition of supporting local charities.

The Beach Hotel has long been the major sponsor of the Byron Bay Surf Lifesaving Club.

The van Haandels have also said they would continue to keep the hotel 'music orientated.'

Cornell is believed to have chosen the van Haandels over other prospective bidders, including Byron Bay multi-millionaire Eddie Phillips, because of their pledge to maintain the hotel in its current form.

The hotel was built in 1990 for $9 million and, according to sources, has an annual turnover of $15 million.



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