Sunday, August 03, 2008

hotel hiatus

The five-star hotel slated for Rottnest Island is well behind schedule.

Negotiations between the state government and developer Broadwater are continuing, despite the company being chosen as the builder 18 months ago.

The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) has stopped spruiking the $50 million project on its website and signage.

It mentions refurbishment programs and the construction of the new Dome cafe, but details of the hotel have vanished.

Tourism Minister Sheila McHale said in January last year the hotel would be built within two years.

"The new facility will provide eagerly-awaited accommodation on Rottnest," she said at the time.

"The 120-room hotel will offer guests options such as short-stay and fully serviced rooms of an equivalent four-star rating."

The hotel will be built on four hectares of the derelict water catchment site at Mt Herschel, near Geordie and Longreach bays.

But the minister said she was disappointed with the wait.

"I have a certain level of frustration with the delays but this is about getting it right for Rottnest and future generations of holidaymakers," she said.

"At no time has the Rottnest Island Authority delayed the process. We look forward to the contract being signed."

Broadwater's Scott Cogar didn't return numerous calls.

Broadwater is the head of a six-firm consortium that will build the hotel.

The other companies involved are First Acuity Management Enterprises, WA Developments, Humfrey Land Developments, Jones Coulter Young Architects and Ningaloo Reef Retreat.

"I don't think they know a lot about it at the moment," someone at Humfrey Land Developments said when called.

WA Developments said only Broadwater could comment on the hotel.

First Acuity Management Enterprises, Jones Coulter Young and Ningaloo Reef Retreat didn't return calls.

RIA bugle Penni Fletcher-Hughes said the hotel could open in 2010, subject to government approvals.

"As far as we know, negotiations (with Broadwater) are continuing," she said.
"The company has four years to build the hotel from the date of signing with the government."

The authority recently spent $76,000 on a geotechnical survey for the hotel.

"The survey was an integral part of the undertaking to potential developers to ensure the site is development-ready," Ms Fletcher-Hughes said.

Golder Associates spent five days on Rottnest taking site samples and then took four weeks to test them in a laboratory.

The authority wouldn't release the survey.

"The report is part of the negotiations expected to result in a development/lease contract signing with the Broadwater consortium and is therefore currently commercial-in-confidence," Ms Fletcher-Hughes said.

Ms McHale said the survey wasn't the reason for the hold-up.

"The geotechnical survey was in fact done ahead of time at the request of the developers," she said.