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BREAKING GROUND

By Mark Beale

YESTERDAY marked a milestone in the ongoing development of Airlie Beach with the turning of the first sod at the new ‘ONE Whitsundays’ resort.

Situated on the site at Shingley Beach previously earmarked for development by socialite and model Ivana Trump, the $70million five star resort and spa will include 75 strata titled apartments, six premium penthouses, a three-tiered tropical lagoon pool, a premium day spa, complete gymnasium, high quality restaurant, and Airlie’s largest conference centre – all with spectacular waterfront views.

The project is the brainchild of ONE Whitsundays CEO John Zappia, who became involved in 2006 at the re-design stage.

Mr Zappia said the original development was a 42-apartment “super luxury” resort, which didn’t get off the ground, due in part to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

In 2007 a new development application was approved for what Mr Zappia described as more of a “family-oriented resort attracting corporates to bring their families in”.

“And that’s really what drove us to where we are today,” he said.

Mr Zappia and the ONE Whitsundays team had survived the GFC with their re-defined product and this week decided “now’s the appropriate time” for construction to officially start.

Describing himself as “over the moon” at yesterday’s sod-turning ceremony, attended by local and national media alike, Mr Zappia said the future was bright for the township of Airlie Beach.

“We’re focusing on growing this precinct along with Abell Point Marina, where Paul [Darrouzet has] done a fantastic job, and we’re going to be working closely together on making that precinct a very nice place to be,” he said.

Mr Zappia said it would take about three to six months for the site to be levelled and building to physically start.

“And during this period the marketing strategy will go into full swing and hopefully generate sales,” he said.

Ray White Whitsunday Principal Mark Beale, whose company will be leading that marketing charge, said this was a significant step in the property market of the Whitsundays.

“Nothing has been built off the plan since the GFC, or certainly [not] in the last five years, [and] we believe that the time is right, that there will be a buyer’s appetite for the product and the benefits of the complex, with its conference facilities, will be huge for all local businesses and the community,” he said.

Whitsunday Mayor Jennifer Whitney agreed the ONE Whitsundays resort was another exciting development for the rejuvenated township of Airlie Beach.

“I understand the development will include a 300-person conference centre for large scale events, the first of its kind in Airlie Beach. This will mean the ONE Whitsundays Resort will be a great attraction for the corporate market as well as the tourism market,” she said.

Whitsundays Marketing and Development (WMDL) Executive Director, Jeff Aquilina, congratulated the team behind the ONE Whitsundays resort.

“We continue to see a strong increase in visitor numbers to the Whitsundays and developments like these are key to generate further growth for the Whitsundays to achieve our 2020 goals,” he said.

“We have got a bright future ahead of us and I am excited to see this new development come to life.”

ONE Whitsundays are currently in negotiations with two premium brands to manage to resort.

For more information about the project contact marketing agent Steve Marks on 0423 790 850 or steve.marks@raywhite.com.

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