Islands back in vogue as Dunk Island prepares for overhaul

Dunk Island from above. Picture: Isabelle Dore
Dunk Island from above. Picture: Isabelle Dore

Queensland’s island resorts are making a comeback, with Dunk Island set to lead the way under the stewardship of its new owners, the London-based investment group Mayfair 101, which has splashed out more than $30 million on the property.

The group is readying plans for a lavish overhaul of the island that it picked up from former Linc Energy boss Peter Bond and his family, who bought the shuttered resort after it was hit by Cyclone Larry in 2006 and Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

The Bond family paid about $7.5 million in 2012 and spent about $5 million on repairs in readiness for a new development.

Commercial Insights: Subscribe to receive the latest news and updates

The derelict island off Mission Beach just south of Cairns caught the attention of several buyers including Royalty Blockchain, the international cryptocurrency consortium underbidder on Great Keppel Island, before Mayfair bought it.

Dunk Island is preparing for a major revamp, as the bones are in place for a new resort as interest in the area surges on the back of new airline routes and the cheap Australian dollar that is luring global tourists.

The new owner is the luxury property arm of the Mayfair 101 group, which separately raised about $40 million from high-net-worth investors seeking exposure to emerging small cap stocks.

Dunk Island resort

Dunk Island. Picture:

The Great Barrier Reef remains the big drawcard for tourists but the area is only just getting back on track after visitor numbers plunged following a series of cyclones.

“The market is in the midst of a complete overhaul, with unprecedented interest from experienced resort investors,” said JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group’s Tom Gibson, who brokered the deal.

Other islands that were damaged have also reopened for business, most notably the ultra-luxurious Hayman Island.

Its international owner, Malay­sian conglomerate Mulpha, ploughed $135 million into the island and appointed hoteliers Intercontinental to manage the 166-room resort.

Hayman Island has recovered after tropical Cyclone Debbie largely destroyed much of the island’s vegetation and infrastructure, including the internationally renowned lagoon-style pool, in 2017.

Mulpha is also promoting several Kerry Hill-designed holiday mansions overlooking the Whitsunday resort but it is not yet known if residential homes are part of the Dunk plans.

The revamped Hayman Island resort.

More resorts are in the offing. Singapore-based luxury operator Banyan Tree won the management rights last November to operate Lindeman Island, which is being revamped by Chinese tycoon William Han.

His development company, White Horse Australia, picked up the island in 2012 for $12 million after the exit of Club Med. He is investing $600 million to develop two new resorts and a residential complex on the Whitsundays paradise.

Daydream Island’s $104 million renovation by its Chinese owners, after they bought it from Queensland vitamin king Vaughan Bullivant, is complete.

The island was also badly damaged by Cyclone Debbie but the China Capital Investment Group has invested heavily in the property since buying it in 2015 for $30 million.

The billionaire Oatley family’s Hamilton Island — the largest in the region — and Bedarra Island have also had multimillion-dollar redevelopments in recent years.

This article originally appeared on