Rare metro tourist park attracts wide appeal as asset interest evolves

Crystal Brook Tourist Park includes a heated swimming pool. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale
Crystal Brook Tourist Park includes a heated swimming pool. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale

One of only five caravan, camping and cabin holiday sites in Melbourne’s suburbs, Crystal Brook Tourist Park is attracting strong interest from local and interstate investors.

Just 25km north-east of the CBD in a premium location, the freehold going concern features 3.89 hectares spread across two separate of bushland parcels and comprising 42 powered sites,11 tent sites, 10 sites with adjoining ensuites, and 27 cabins.

Crystal Brook Tourist Park also offers a two-bedroom rental house, three-bedroom manager’s home, an office and camp kitchen along with a heated pool, playground, barbecues and a games room.

As well as a budgeted income of $1.4 million for the 2022 calendar year, buyers have the option of expanding the site’s under-utilised land to include further accommodation or completely change it.

COVID boosts already robust sector

The pandemic’s restrictions and lockdowns had little effect on the caravan and camping industry with the already popular industry performing strongly throughout 2020-2021.

According to Tourism Research Australia’s national research survey, 52.7 million overnight caravan and camping trips were enjoyed across Australia in the year ending September 2021, up 23% from the year before.

These holidays generated a total visitor expenditure of $7.6 billion, an increase of 33% from the previous year.

Exterior of a cabin at Crystal Brook Tourist Park

The 3.89 ha bushland site features 42 powered sites,11 tent sites, 10 sites with adjoining ensuites, and 27 cabins. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale

CIAA’s research and insights general manager, Peter Clay, explained that metropolitan tourist parks’ larger, more open accommodation areas had resulted in people preferring these places over high-density settings such as city hotels.

“Caravan parks overall have done very well over the recent year as they are largely domestic visitor-focused and they’re not over-reliant on international markets,” Mr Clay said.

“This was also a sector that was growing strongly even before the pandemic.”

However, Sean Jenner, the CEO of BIG4 Holiday Parks – which owns Melbourne Holiday Park in Coburg, 11km north of the CBD, and Sydney Tourist Park in Miranda, 25km south of Sydney – said the past few years have been incredibly challenging for holiday parks.

Mr Jenner explained it was only very recently that the sector had experienced a different story. 

“We’re now really seeing that people are ready to rediscover capital cities and use metro parks as their base to travel from again,” he said.

“Now more than ever people are craving experiences, and they love to be local in a personalised venue.”

HTL Property’s Andrew Jackson, who is marketing Crystal Brook with CRE Brokers’ Kevin Connolly, added that COVID had resulted in a “real renaissance” in tourism park clientele, with more Australians keen to see parts of the country they might not get to see when checking in to hotels and other accommodation.

‘Real renaissance’ changes tourist park market

Both sales agents agree that this previously niche asset class is also gaining traction with corporate investors with these buyers rapidly replacing Mum and Dad-style buyers.

“The tourist park asset class has evolved and matured and is no longer viewed as an alternate asset class by institutional investors,” Mr Jackson explained.

“These buyers well and truly have places like this on their radars as they’re now viewed as solid businesses with sound underlying fundamentals, such as the size and quality of the landholdings underpinning them.”

Crystal Brook Tourist Park Life-sized chess game

The park has a children’s playground, jumping pillow, boules and chess games court plus barbecues and a games room. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale

Mr Jackson said this asset class generated strong returns even in softer economic times thanks to its resilient, all-year-round income stream and ongoing demand for affordable accommodation. 

“The broad market demand for these assets is simply outweighing the available supply,” he explained.

“Add to this a domestic tourism resurgence …. and we are witnessing unheralded yield compression for this asset class with these prevailing conditions not expected to abate any time soon.”

Broad buyer appeal

Tourism parks such as Crystal Brook are rarely on the market, particularly freehold sites, which is another big reason for its appeal, according to Mr Jackson.

Hotel and leisure owner-operators and investors had shown plenty of interest in the property but only some developers were keen, he said.

“I’d be surprised if this property isn’t bought by a holiday or tourist park-type investor and I’d certainly be surprised to see a developer closing the park down altogether because you’ve already got good strong income and a profitable and popular business,” he said.

“Properties generally get stepped on by developers when they’re run down and old … but this business is very popular, it’s trading well and is in good condition so you’d be crazy to knock it down,” he said.

Lounge area inside a cabin at Crystal Brook Tourist Park

The 27 cabins include deluxe family villas. Picture: realcommercial.com.au/for-sale

Mr Jackson said he expected the buyer would most likely expand the existing park and build extra cabins, glamping tents or similar there.

“There’s a lot of areas in the park that are underutilised at the moment and you could increase your income quite easily by building extra accommodation,” he said.

He added that Crystal Brook’s mid-range price point was also ensuring its broad appeal to both private buyers and corporate players.

Crystal Brook Tourist Park is for sale via expression of interest, which close Wednesday, March 23 at 5pm, and has a price guide of $10 million.