Bumper month at Ramada
ALTHOUGH the fate of Ballina’s Ramada Hotel remains uncertain, one thing is for sure – it attracted a record number of visitors last month.
More than 4100 people stayed at the four-and-a-half star hotel in January.
It was the Ramada’s best month ever.
A total of 73,000 guests have now stayed at the waterfront building since it opened in September 2007.
This is despite complaints from some unit owners that the hotel has failed to perform and that Ballina Shire Council should approve a change of use application.
If approved it would see 94 of the Ramada’s 115 units become available for permanent residents.
But general manager Karen Whiteford said January’s figures were ‘terrific’, despite the ‘traditional slowdown post-Australia Day’.
“Since opening we have seen a steady rise in occupancy and popularity for the hotel and the area as a whole,” she said.
“We look forward to continuing to break records.
“We don’t want Ballina to become another Byron Bay, but be recognised as a tourism destination in its own right.”
But the hotel might not get that chance.
The council is currently assessing the change of use application, which was lodged by Lennox Head planner Steve Connelly on behalf of the developer, Slipway Properties.
It’s a change which could have major ramifications.
Ramada brand owners, the Wyndham Hotel Group, have also indicated that altering the number of units available for tourists would leave them with ‘no choice’ but to terminate the franchise agreement.
The Ramada would then be forced to change its name.
It is understood Wyndham’s vice-president of property development and resort operations, Marion Smart, was in Ballina this week to meet with hotel and council staff.
Ms Whiteford said having the Ramada’s ‘worldwide distribution and marketing system’ gave the hotel an added advantage.
But she was ‘unsure’ how a successful change of use application would affect business.
“It’s all unknown at this stage,” Ms Whiteford said.
“I guess we will just have to wait and see.”
Unit owner and Slipway Properties director, Ian Mills, said in a submission to the council that returns had been ‘dismal’.
“Every similar short-term accommodation development that I know of has been a disaster, both for the developers and the unlucky purchasers,” he wrote.
“It is not a change of use. It’s about flexibility of use.
“Developers and buyers/owners losing money offers no economic benefit.”
The council’s report on the Ramada application could be presented to councillors later this month or in March.