Dreamworld tragedy: luxury resort planned for theme park

Dreamworld on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Embattled theme park operator Dreamworld considered developing a multi-million-dollar luxury resort, retail complex and time-share apartment precinct adjoining its Gold Coast site, according to confidential documents obtained by The Australian.

Dreamworld’s owner, Ardent Leisure, had talks with the American-owned Wyndham hotel company and time-share operator as well as high-profile Gold Coast developer Robert Badalotti about building the $100 million-plus property next to the theme park.

Ardent Leisure chief executive Deborah Thomas travelled extensively to research theme park designs and opportunities in the wake of the negotiations.

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Under the scheme, the Dreamworld site would be leased or purchased from Ardent Leisure, which is under market scrutiny following the deaths of four patrons on one of the theme park’s rides last week.

A proposed master plan for the development obtained by The Australian allows for 200 hotel rooms and 80 apartments, and up to 25 shops.

A project “would provide tourist accommodation which would service the theme park and the city’s north”

Dreamworld executives, including Thomas, held initial meetings last year about the proposal.

A parcel known as “site 6” would have been developed into a resort, with access to the nearby Coomera Town Centre, where QIC Global Real Estate and Scentre Group are building a new Westfield shopping complex.

Thomas did not return The Australian’s calls.

The estimated cost for development was $115m, with finance to come from a major bank.

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Barry Robinson, president and managing director of Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and Pacific Rim, says the group has been looking at property at all the theme parks, “but nothing has ever been resolved”.

Badalotti’s Azzura Corporation has previously developed hotels and apartments and is proposing Southport’s tallest tower, the 104-storey Imperial City.

Ardent Leisure chief executive Deborah Thomas travelled extensively to research theme park designs and opportunities in the wake of the negotiations.

The Ardent board appeared keen on the project. “(Ms Thomas) was impressed … the discussions have been active,” says one executive.

The Australian understands that private group Reynolds Private Wealth was working on the scheme.

A representative declined to comment further, saying only that a project “would provide tourist accommodation which would service the theme park and the city’s north”.

Ardent Leisure shares continued to lose ground this week, extending a tumble that has wiped more than 22% of the group’s market value.

– with Lisa Allen

Additional reporting: Daniel Palmer

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.