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Historic sale: Cairns Harbourside Hotel available for the first time in 33 years

With the strong performance of the Cairns hotel market, this property is expected to attract a wide range of investor interest

For the first time in over three decades, the iconic Esplanade-fronted Cairns Harbourside Hotel is up for sale. Taisei Kanko Australia Pty Limited, the current owners, have decided to restructure their investment portfolio and redirect capital back to Japan.

The sale will be managed exclusively by JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, with Adam Bury, Gareth Closter, and Gus Moors overseeing the process.

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Gus Moors, Managing Director at JLL, remarked on the sale, stating, “The inherent characteristics of this rare offering, for sale with vacant possession via an expression of interest campaign, will put any new owner in the perfect position to take the asset into the future and carry forward the legacy Taisei Kanko have built over the past 33 years.”

Located on nearly 5000 square meters on Cairns’ iconic Esplanade, the property includes 173 well-proportioned rooms across two towers, along with extensive ground floor leisure and Food & Beverage facilities that offer views of Trinity Bay.

This vacant possession offering presents incoming investors with numerous value-add opportunities.

Adam Bury, Executive Vice President at JLL, expressed his enthusiasm for the property’s potential, saying, “We absolutely love the optionality that this property provides astute investors. With stunning views of the bay, vacant possession and rooms split across the two towers, this is a genuine value add play at a ticket size that will appeal to a broad range of investors who are keen to get a foothold in the buoyant Cairns hotel market”.

The hotel’s strategic location offers the best of both worlds: Esplanade frontage appealing to the leisure and conferencing market, and proximity to key corporate and government demand generators. Notably, the nearby Cairns Hospital is undergoing a $250 million expansion, which includes a new surgical centre in partnership with James Cook University. This expansion is expected to generate 610 construction jobs and further solidify the hospital as a significant demand driver for the hotel.

Since COVID-19, Cairns has experienced a booming hotel market, with occupancy increasing 22 percent year-on-year and average daily rates (ADR) sitting 40 percent higher than pre-COVID levels. This growth continues despite key international source markets, particularly from North Asia, not yet returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Gareth Closter, Senior Vice President at JLL, shared his optimism about the market, stating, “At JLL, we are absolutely believers in the Queensland market, and are positive that the strength of recovery witnessed to date will continue.

“COVID is far in the rear-mirror, and with strong trading performance already occurring in Cairns, we see further upside still available as key sources markets such as China and Japan return, driving increased visitation over the coming twelve to twenty-four months”.

“We have seen significant interest from investors in the sales campaigns we have handled recently in South East Queensland and having transacted the Sunshine Tower in Cairns in 2022, as well as recently having successfully marketed a unique asset in Port Douglas, we are expecting a wide range of investor interest in this sale.”

JLL anticipates significant investor interest in this sale, bolstered by their recent successful sales campaigns in South East Queensland. The firm has led numerous high-profile transactions, including the $192 million sale of the Sheraton Grand Mirage Gold Coast, the sale of Mercure Kawana Waters to the NRL, and the Vali Byron Bay for approximately $30 million. Their expertise in coastal properties positions them as the leading advisor in this sector.

The sale of the Cairns Harbourside Hotel marks a rare opportunity for investors to acquire a prime asset in a thriving market. With its strategic location, potential for value addition, and the strong performance of the Cairns hotel market, this property is expected to attract a wide range of investor interest.

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