Thursday, February 22, 2018

The art of hotel development: Mona’s expansion plans

Mona recently unveiled plans for the museum’s next phase of growth, including early designs for a proposed 172 room, 5-star hotel on the museum’s current site in Berriedale, Tasmania. Accomnews looked at the striking new design, and heard from Mona’s founder and co-CEO on what it will mean for the state.

The unique design, which represents an inverted suspension bridge and resembles the famous New York Brooklyn Bridge, will be elevated above the Derwent River. The new structure, to be called HOMO (HOtel at MOna), features not only accommodation, but also a library holding Mona founder David Walsh’s large collection of rare books, a spa treatment centre, outdoor stage and amphitheatre, a multi-purpose indoor theatre, a function and events centre for up to 800 guests, as well as access by land or water, with a ferry terminal incorporated into the design. Mona’s transport provider has also started readying a second ferry for the hotel opening.

According to Mr Walsh, Mona simply likes “building stuff”.

“So far it’s gone pretty well for us, and hopefully also for our communities. This time, some may think it’s gotten a little out of hand. The excavation alone is more than four times the size of that for the museum – but we seem to have some support, the plans have turned out pretty well, and we can’t rest on our laurels forever. The heart of Mona is chance,” he explained.

“We expect HOMO to be attractive to large segments of the national and international business and conference markets that previously haven’t turned to Tasmania due to a lack of appropriate infrastructure. New facilities, like the auditorium and theatre, will also allow us to further activate the site at night, and continue to diversify the appeal of Mona to Tasmanians too.”

According to Tourism Research Australia’s new domestic visitor research, more Australians are visiting Tasmania than ever, with 16 percent more domestic visitors travelling to Tasmania between June 2016 and June 2017 than the previous year. With 74 percent of Mona’s annual visitors travelling from interstate, Mona is aiming to drive and cater to growth.

“We want to do all we can to continue to help drive the growth in interstate tourism we’ve experienced since Mona opened in 2011,” said Mark Wildson, Mona’s co-CEO.

The HOMO build is expected to take three years, and will create 300 new full-time construction jobs. When open, it will also deliver 120 full time ongoing positions.

The proposed HOMO development plan is yet to be submitted to Glenorchy City Council. A comprehensive consultation process with the public will be held at the same time. In addition to developments on-site, Mona has made a proposal to the State Government, through Events Tasmania, for funding to move Mona Foma, Mona’s summer festival, to Launceston.

“We recognise the value in a state-wide approach to tourism and events, and the importance of regional dispersal to sustainable economic growth. We’re excited by the opportunity that a Launceston-based Mona Foma presents, to develop and draw new audiences to the north of the state,” Mr Wildson concluded.

About Lauren Butler

Lauren Butler is a junior journalist here at accomnews. You can reach her at any time with news, opinions and submissions.

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