Fraser's sale of the century

The 152-room Kingfisher Bay eco-resort and some of its associated assets are up for sale in one of the “rarest and most unique” opportunities to hit the property market.
The 152-room Kingfisher Bay eco-resort and some of its associated assets are up for sale in one of the “rarest and most unique” opportunities to hit the property market.

THE FRASER Coast’s sale of the century was announced at midnight last night with news that Kingfisher Bay Resort, Eurong Beach Resort, plus substantial tour and barge operations are up for sale by expression of interest.

The lucrative multi-million-dollar business with annual revenue of $50 million is on the market because Kingfisher Bay Resort Village P/L’s Japanese partner since 1990, Cosmos Australia, has decided to withdraw from its offshore interests to focus wholly on its domestic operations.

“My partner, our finance director David Goodman and I have decided it is time to move on with our lives even though we are making good money,” managing director Gary Smith said yesterday.

When the business sells, Mr Smith will be cutting an umbilical tie with Kingfisher.

“As a uni student I walked across Fraser Island and fell in love with it. Then when I was 26 and working as an accountant, David and another partner Michael Hackett and I took the plunge, bought the block of land – from memory around $1 million – and then began to build Kingfisher Bay Resort.

“I remember having a tear in my eye the day in 1992 that we opened, realising that we’d made the dream happen.”

The public company involved at the time, Qld Tourism Industries Ltd, was later restructured and Mr Smith and Mr Goodman operate the business privately.

Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels will market the multi-award winning freehold and leasehold resort interests and associated businesses on Fraser Island.

Mr Smith said the assets being offered for sale included the 152-room Kingfisher Bay Eco-Resort on the protected western side of Fraser Island.

“That contains four restaurants and bars, conference facilities, shopping village, significant excess development land as well as management rights to 100 self-contained villas and a 200-bed wilderness lodge.”

In 2002, the company extended its interests on the island by buying Eurong Beach Resort, on the eastern side of Fraser Island, along with associated substantial tour and barge businesses from entrepreneur Sid Melksham.

“The Kingfisher Bay Resort Village group is in a strong financial position with negligible debt and strong cash flows,” Mr Smith said.

“We told our staff in a series of briefings yesterday afternoon and we are in the process of contacting suppliers and owners.

“We are selling the assets as a package. We do not intend to separate the assets as we believe they fit best together as a complete package. A sale will only eventuate if an acceptable offer, that reflects the quality and uniqueness of the assets, is received.

“Meanwhile the River Heads marine transfers will go ahead as planned. We are working towards opening our new terminal at River Heads Shopping Centre by early April.”

Mr Smith described the Japanese partners as “fantastic”.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s Wayne Bunz, Senior Vice President Hotels, described the package as “one of the rarest and most unique opportunities for many years”.

“The location of these assets on the largest sand island in the world ranks alongside other World Heritage-Listed destinations such as Ayres Rock and the Great Barrier Reef.”

Mr Smith said that if the business did not sell he intended to remain involved – but meanwhile nothing would prevent him from going to the World Cup for his 50th birthday.

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