Developers of a five-star boutique hotel in Noosa Springs, currently undergoing approval by Noosa Council, have responded to demand protests by proposing changes and say the facility is needed to cope with a chronic shortage of luxury accommodation in Noosa.
The $50 million project is an initiative of GH Australia, the Australian arm of one of Hong Kong’s leading real estate and development companies, Golden Horse Group, which has owned Noosa Springs Golf and Spa Resort since 2014.
The proposed 106-bedroom hotel will span five two- and three-storey buildings, a reduction from the 112-bedroom and five-storey originally proposed, which will bring it under the Council’s 12-metre height restrictions.
Project manager Phil Starkey, whose family built and developed Noosa Springs, said a 200-room hotel had been included in Council-approved resort plans to complete the Noosa Springs residential community, which now includes 526 accommodations, including Noosa Parkridge.
The hotel, proposed to be built on the eastern side of the resort bordered by Resort Drive, would feature 98 standard rooms, six luxury suites and two presidential suites.
It would include a central two-tier lagoon-style pool, feature a lounge area with fire pit, bar, cafe, lobby, and the existing four synthetic tennis courts would be replaced with three synthetic courts and one hard court. .
Mr Starkey said their economic impact assessment showed there were 3,821 accommodation rooms in Noosa across 158 properties, with 157 run as short-term accommodation and only one fully serviced.
The Noosa Springs Hotel would be the first luxury hotel in Noosa since the construction of the Sofitel in Hastings Street in 1989, he said, describing it as “a significant tourist accommodation opportunity which will bring enormous benefits to the community”.
At present, overnight guests in Noosa Springs are accommodated in a rental pool of just 15 self-contained apartments that form part of the Fairways enclosure, stretching along the first hole of the resort’s golf course. , did he declare.
“The number is largely insufficient for the necessary accommodation. Many out-of-town groups don’t consider Noosa Springs because there just isn’t enough on-site accommodation for them, so they go to other destinations rather than Noosa.
But the proposal has already drawn more than 500 objections from owners of Noosa Springs, Parkridge, The Oasis and Elysium as well as local golfers who sent the Council a 21-point public impact statement outlining their opposition.
Residents say two-thirds of the 3.8-hectare site that will be occupied by the hotel is zoned open space/recreational, not for development, and that will mean uprooting koala feeding trees.
Mr Starkey said the proposed site contained 19 feeder trees for koalas which would be replaced with feeder trees for the now endangered species in a safer location near the golf course, away from the road. “It’s not a corridor, not a population of koalas,” he said.
But Queensland Koala Crusaders Association ambassador Meghan Halverson said it was ridiculous to say you could tear down trees and move koalas and you would be fine.
“Every time we clear a block of land, we isolate the koalas. We actually put them in small islands. For genetic diversity, male joeys need to be able to travel between habitat areas and connect with other males and females,” she said.
“If there are no corridors connecting the habitat, it’s catastrophic. Do I think this is the end of Noosa Springs’ koala population? Yes.”
Opponents say the development would increase traffic, already at capacity at peak times, that parking would be inadequate and that it would impact existing users of the station.
Mr Starkey said the resort would complement and integrate with existing facilities in Noosa Springs, which include a championship golf course, golf shop, Relish restaurant, conference and banqueting facilities, a spa world-class day, fitness center and tennis center.
“Services within the resort – including the kitchen, restaurants, conference rooms and bar – would be expanded and improved, benefiting resort members and the general public, as well as hotel guests.
“Guests would access the boutique hotel along a walkway that connects to a widened porte-cochere at the existing entrance to the Noosa Springs resort from Links Drive.”
Mr Starkey said traffic studies showed that at full capacity the hotel would generate around 30 vehicle movements (15 each way) per hour and that the number of parking spaces had been increased, providing 255 spaces plus 38 overflow spaces allowing room for 1.6 hotel rooms. The hotel will also provide a shuttle bus which will operate as required to take guests to major attractions around Noosa, as well as e-bikes and mopeds.
Mr Starkey said the project would create around 360 jobs, most during construction.
He admitted accommodation and property costs had soared which had scared workers across Noosa that finding staff was a challenge but hoped the market would sort itself out in time. “Having them come from Cooroy would still be a job,” he said.
“The proposed development will attract high spending visitors and represents one of the biggest tourism investments in the Noosa area for many years,” Mr Starkey said.
GH Properties Director Ellen Guan said her company wanted the opportunity to build the hotel and upgrade Noosa Springs’ facilities and services to a higher standard and that the integration of the resort and the hotel would be more efficient in terms of operations.
Ms. Guan is passionate about making wellness central to the facility with a range of practices such as yoga, mindfulness, detox and nutritional foods offered as a personalized service and incorporating local businesses operating in the community.
“This service will provide more opportunities to stay and enjoy the lifestyle and bring home something that will positively impact their daily lives,” she said. “It is a good choice for the community of Noosa. The spirit of the project is to offer a luxury experience.
If the development application is approved by Council, construction is expected to be completed within 15 to 18 months, ending around the end of 2024 and opening to guests in 2025.