Mission Beach Castaways Resort on block for $20m-plus with options open for buyer
Melbourne’s millionaire Neville Smith family are seeking more than $20m for their much-loved Castaways Resort & Spa in Mission Beach as they seek to rationalise their extensive assets.
The far north Queensland property, which has been in the family – which made its fortune from one of Australia’s largest hardwood processing companies – for more than a decade, is expected to attract developers, high net worth individuals and offshore buyers, according to the selling agent JLL Hotels & Hospitality executive vice president Adam Bury.
Locals say the recent blow-up over the Mayfair 101 collapse in Mission Beach has not harmed prices, with residential properties valued in the millions selling sight unseen to southerners.
The Neville-Smith family has attained a new development application for Castaways, which is 90 minutes south of Cairns, so it can concentrate on other business interests, particularly in Tasmania where it has major assets.
The existing 46-room resort, which stretches across 200m of beachfront land, has views over the Coral Sea and access to the Great Barrier Reef.
The purchaser has several options from which to choose, including planning approvals allowing either the expansion of the existing resort with an additional 44 rooms, bringing the total room count to 90, or demolishing the existing hotel. This would allow for the construction of a completely new 220-room resort.
Mr Bury estimates the resort will yield double-digit returns once the work is completed.
“Northern Queensland has some of Australia’s best beaches and most spectacular scenery, but such opportunities, that are held by one owner, with absolute beach frontage, are very rarely traded,” he said.
“We believe the resort, and the opportunity it presents, sits without comparison on the entire coastline from Cairns to Noosa. The property has been held by the current family ownership for over a decade, and we therefore truly believe this is a generational opportunity to acquire a one-off resort that will undoubtedly benefit from the golden decade we are to witness in Queensland off the back of the recently announced 2032 Olympics,” he said.
With infrastructure investments into Queensland, including airport expansions at both Cairns and Brisbane, Queensland is expected to see a surge in tourism arrivals over the coming decade and there remains a depth of capital in the market seeking to benefit from this.
JLL managing director Peter Harper says regional tourism assets have seen a boom in performance since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with travellers again recognising the significant tourism offerings that Australia has to offer.
“We have seen a significant number of properties experience trading booms with the spike in domestic demand and expect these trends to accelerate as state and national borders open again, as well as for them to continue well beyond Covid-19 as travel trends change for the foreseeable future,” Mr Harper said.
Offshore from Mission Beach the new owner of Dunk Island, an entertainment and media wholesale private equity fund headed by Mark Spillane, is yet to reveal its plans for the development of the island.Upsense Media Capital, co-founded by Mr Spillane and RJ Bucaria, will pay between $20m and $25m for Dunk Island. Mr Spillane, who has interests in live music, television and film production as well as finance, artist management, and entertainment industry consultancy, declined to comment on his purchase.
Devastated by Cyclone Yasi in early 2011, Dunk Island was later acquired by Linc Energy founder Peter Bond for about $7.5m with plans to redevelop the resort.
The island, about 4km off Mission Beach, was sold in 2020 for around $31m to interests associated with financial entrepreneur James Mawhinney. However, Mr Mawhinney’s Mayfair 101 group ran into regulatory trouble and financial advisory firm Grant Thornton was called in as provisional liquidator. The company’s failure to complete the island purchase pushed it back into the hands of its former owner, the Bond family, who put it back on the market.
Hundreds of residential assets in Mission Beach snapped up by Mayfair 101 are also now on the market.
Local agents say there has been incredibly high interest, particularly from local buyers, in the properties, which include vacant land and beachfront homes.
“If the border was to open we would be inundated with more buyers,” says Mission Beach Real Estate agent Steve Wiltshire.
“A lot of people are ending up here and buying, but it’s such a mixed group of buyers compared to our traditional buyers.”
Buyers from South Australia, Victoria, western and southern Queensland are heading to Mission Beach, Mr Wiltshire says.
He adds that there are plenty of purchases in the million-dollar-plus range that are being negotiated with southerners who are happy to purchase without being able to physically view the properties.
“All agents are doing sight unseen contracts,” he says.