Ramada would pull out and sue
THE Ramada Hotel will be forced to change its name if a proposal to allow permanent residents in 94 of the 115 units is approved by Ballina Shire Council.
And the council and developers could also face legal action from the owners of the Ramada brand, the Wyndham Hotel Group.
Wyndham’s senior vice president of property development and resort operations, Marion Smart, wrote to the council last week expressing concern about the development application.
In December, the council voted to defer a decision until more information was available.
Ms Smart said the Ballina Ramada was one of their ‘showcase’ properties.
But she said the change of use, if approved, would make the building ‘unsustainable for short-term letting’.
Ms Smart said Wyndham would have no choice but to terminate the franchise agreement.
She also said the group would seek compensation for advance bookings and take action to recover liquidated damages for early termination that were ‘likely to be substantial’.
“If the use of the property were to be changed retrospectively, the potential for any other developer to invest in a hotel and the potential for an international hotel operator to put their name to a new hotel would be severely damaged,” Ms Smart wrote.
“We believe that if this application succeeds ... the adverse economic impact and tourism amenity for the community would be significant – both in the immediate future and for many years to come.”
Ballina Tourism and Hospitality secretary Dave Heggie agreed.
“The thing is with the Ramada brand name, it’s recognised all over the world.
“So to lose that wouldn’t be a good thing. And to lose those apartments as holiday apartments would be tragic,” Mr Heggie said.
“They are on the waterfront. They should be luxurious holiday apartments. The Ramada is in a fantastic position to attract high-end visitors to the region.”
Mr Heggie said Ballina Tourism and Hospitality was concerned that a change of use would also lead to the demise of the Ramada’s conferencing facilities.
The change of use application will be considered by councillors either this month or next month.