The owners of the famed Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge in Australia’s Kakadu National Park, have signed a memorandum of understanding with Accor to manage their hotels from 1 April, 2014.
They will replace incumbent managers, Intercontinental Hotel Group.
The 110 room Crocodile Hotel is located at Jabiru, some 2½ hours drive south east of Darwin, and offers the only deluxe accommodation in Kakadu. Renowned for the crocodile shape of the hotel design, the hotel is built around a large, landscaped swimming pool and features extensive leisure and business facilities, including conference space for up to 250 delegates (AIME note: it is one of the largest conference venues in Northern Territory).
Cooinda Lodge is located next to the Yellow Water Billabong and is part of a hotel/tourism operation that includes the 48 room Lodge as well as a large camping site, the award-winning Yellow Water Cruises, Yellow Water Fishing, Gagudju Adventure Tours, a general store, fuel station and the Warradjan Cultural Centre.
The hotels were the first major tourism properties developed in Australia by an Indigenous organisation (the Gagudju people). The Crocodile Hotel opened in 1988, shortly after the Crocodile Dundee films put the international tourism spotlight on the Kakadu region and its spectacular natural attractions.
The two hotels will join Australia’s largest hotel network, Accor, which also has the most extensive presence in the Northern Territory, including hotels in Darwin, Katherine and at Ayers Rock (Uluru).
Gagudju Crocodile Hotel will be aligned with Accor’s distinctive Mercure brand, and Gagudju Cooinda Lodge will be part of Ibis Styles.
Chairman of Kakadu Tourism P/L, Rex Wild, thanked IHG for their management of the hotels, which began in 1989, when a forerunner of IHG in Australia – Southern Pacific Hotels – was appointed by the Gagudju Board to manage the two properties.
“We look forward to welcoming Accor to our Kakadu properties,” said Mr Wild. “What particularly attracted us to Accor is its championing of Indigenous employment, which is a fundamental objective of the operation of the two properties.
“We already have extensive involvement of Indigenous Australians in our tourism operations, but we believe we can increase the development of long term sustainable careers as a result of our association with Accor.
“The strength of the Australian dollar and the popularity of Asia as a holiday destination have affected tourism to Kakadu in recent years, but we believe that Kakadu is one of the world’s most significant tourism destinations and there is vast potential to grow visitation from both overseas and locally.
“This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of Paul Hogan’s ‘Throw another Shrimp on the Barbie’ advertisement and because of this, and the subsequent Crocodile Dundee films, Kakadu received enormous international exposure. We believe we can build upon this legacy, and with Accor’s sales and marketing support, we will examine ways of refreshing the product offer and introducing new attractions, experiences and events to grow visitor numbers beyond the current annual figure of 220,000.”
Current managers of the two properties – Daniel Lukritz (Crocodile Hotel) and Vanessa Thomson (Cooinda Lodge) – will stay with the hotels following the change of management.