In another massive blow to Gold Coast tourism, Couran Cove Resort has been closed and will be put up for sale because of massive financial losses.
A five-star eco-resort when it opened 13 years ago, the South Stradbroke Island complex is to be placed into voluntary liquidation. InterPacific Group, has announced it is offering the resort up for sale after a “sustained period of low occupancy” and years of operating at a “considerable loss”. InterPacific is owned by Chuck Feeney’s Bermuda-based charity foundation Atlantic Philanthropies.
Couran Cove’s development on a 151ha site was spearheaded by athlete turned mayor Ron Clarke before he was elected to office. American philanthropist Mr Feeney financed the project has been losing money on the resort ever since – pouring $283 million into it since 1998. The latest financial results for resort owner InterPacific Resorts show Mr Feeney wrote off another $81.6 million in the past year.
It is understood that most staff have been laid off, with those eligible provided with redundancy payments and full entitlements. Couran Cove will keep a skeleton maintenance crew who will be retained to look after the eco-friendly resort’s facilities.
In a statement to unit owners, InterPacific said that, although Couran Cove had stopped operating as a resort, its facilities would remain accessible to owners of the private residences within the resort. The spokesman confirmed the resort would only remain open to third-party unit owners while in care and maintenance ”enabling them to access and use their units and have ongoing access to certain resort facilities and privately let their units”.
The statement said, “Over the past 13 years, considerable time, energy and money has been invested to create the premium resort Couran Cove is today,” it said. “However, this hasn’t been enough to combat a volatile global economy, weak local tourism conditions, a lack of industry support and rising operating and infrastructure costs. The resort has been operating at a considerable loss for a number of years and, sadly, despite our best efforts, this is an unsustainable position for any business operation.
”This is the most sensible course of action for the business and its shareholders, and the decision was made after much consideration and deliberation by the board.”
Ferrier Hodgson have been appointed liquidators to facilitate its sale.
As well as the GFC and the downturn in Gold Coast occupancy rates, Couran Cove’s exclusive rate structure, the need for guests to only eat at the resort, accessibility and the exclusion of day-trip boaties to use the facilities is believed to have contributed to the resort’s demise.