Kaloha Holiday Resort on Phillip Island hits the market

Kaloha Resort is currently on the market.  Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale
Kaloha Resort is currently on the market. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale

The largest private landholding with beach frontage on Victoria’s Phillip Island has hit the market.

The 15,363sqm site is made up of seven titles, all in a residential zone, and has been home to the Kaloha Holiday Resort for more than 40 years.

Selling agent John Castran said the site was the most significant holding ever offered in Cowes and represented one of regional Australia’s most significant development sites, given its proximity to beach frontage and the town’s commercial centre.

Michael Coghlan was 16 when his builder dad Michael and mum Valerie bought the run-down Kaloha park, thinking it would offer the family of six a great lifestyle. For the next 40 years they barely drew breath, Mr Coghlan said, as his dad snapped up surrounding blocks to expand the park and built new facilities for increasing numbers of tourists.

“When we started dad had a front-end loader, backhoe tractor and a little light truck and, basically, we just set to work,” recalled Mr Coghlan. “There were lots of old asbestos, cement flats with old lino floors and an old toilet block that didn’t have partitions between the showers. One by one we demolished it all.”

Work on the holiday park never stopped, he said. A new amenity block was followed by a house for the family to live in, then they built modern motel units, a restaurant, beach cabins, a second storey of motel units, a pool and a playground.

The resort remains popular with domestic tourists, despite COVID travel restrictions. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale

Today the resort hosts up to 30,000 holiday makers every year.

Mr Castran was in awe of the Coghlan family’s achievement.

“The thing is, they have continued to invest in it over time,” Mr Castran said. “The buildings are exemplary, all the grounds are exemplary, it’s in first-class condition all the way through. It’s really quite a Shangri-La.”

Phillip Island has a permanent population of 10,387, but year-round its pristine beaches and famed national park attract thousands of tourists. In 2019, more than 2.65 million people visited the island, according to Business Victoria data. Last year, while COVID saw international travel banned, a surge in domestic travel kept the island’s businesses going. A total of 1.4 million people visited Phillip Island spending $297 million.

“The last couple of years before COVID it (Kaloha) was going gangbusters,” Mr Coghlan told realcommercial.com.au. “Still the last six months have been the busiest we have ever been. From November through to April it was just crazy.”

Once known as the poor man’s Mornington Peninsula, the value of Phillip Island’s market is rising.

The 8624sqm site of the historic hotel Isle of Wight, which burnt down in 2010, was sold for $10 million in February to developer John Farquharson’s company Moda, Salta Capital and pub baron Mazen Tabet. Mr Castran, who also sold that property, said a townhouse development was destined for the site.

Grocon construction head Bruno Grollo sold his historic waterfront homestead Woolamai House for $3.2 million last year. It was the final 1.7ha parcel of a large estate that was sold off as 68 residential blocks in 2011.

“To find big chunks of vacant land that can have water views, that’s what the retirees, the 55-plus market, want,” Mr Castran said of the run of development site sales.

He said interest in Kaloha had been equally divided between developers and those interested in continuing to run the park as owner-operators.

“The cashflow out of it is outstanding,” Mr Castran said. “It’s a very viable business in its own right.

“But there’s a big chunk of this site – two-thirds – that don’t have any buildings on it, they are just van sites. And the rest of it has very good accommodation.”

The property could be a development site. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale

Mr Castran suggested the next owner could keep part of the property as a holiday park and utilise another for residential development – or the “whole thing could be knocked down”.

Mr Coghlan was firm in what he would like to see happen with the sale of his family property.

“I would hate to see it just chopped up into little residential blocks. If it is subdivided, it will be the last big plot of land in Cowes. It will be gone then, you’ll never get it back,” he said.

“Phillip Island really needs good quality development. We have beach frontage, lots of road frontage, we’re walking distance into Cowes. There’s plenty of room for car parking. They can build 150 units there if they want to – go up four storeys; have another big swimming pool. It could be a really nice development. That’s what I’d like to see, because Phillip Island needs it and this is the perfect place for it.”

The Kaloha Holiday Resort is for sale through an expression of interest campaign that closes on Thursday 5 August.