"Eco" resort bombs

It got all sorts of awards -- from everybody except paying customers. Nice when Green/Left elitists feel in their hip pocket how out of touch they are

THE Gold Coast's embattled tourism industry has copped another blow with multi-award-winning eco-tourism retreat Couran Cove Island Resort closing its doors.

Hailed as a benchmark tourism facility when it opened 13 years ago, the South Stradbroke Island resort is to be placed into voluntary liquidation. Its owner, InterPacific Group, yesterday announced that it was putting the resort up for sale after a "sustained period of low occupancy" and years of operating at a "considerable loss".

Staff have been laid off, with those eligible provided with redundancy payments and full entitlements. It is understood a skeleton crew has been retained to maintain the sporting and eco-friendly resort's facilities.

In a statement, InterPacific said that, although Couran Cove had stopped operating as a resort, its facilities would remain accessible to owners of the private residences within the resort.

"Over the past 13 years, considerable time, energy and money has been invested to create the premium resort Couran Cove is today," it said. "However, this hasn't been enough to combat a volatile global economy, weak local tourism conditions, a lack of industry support and rising operating and infrastructure costs.

"The resort has been operating at a considerable loss for a number of years and, sadly, despite our best efforts, this is an unsustainable position for any business operation. "This is the most sensible course of action for the business and its shareholders."

Couran Cove's development on a 151ha site was spearheaded by former Olympic runner Ron Clarke before he was elected Gold Coast mayor. Billionaire American philanthropist Chuck Feeney, who bankrolled the project but later had a falling-out with Cr Clarke, reportedly has been propping up the resort - pouring $283 million into it since 1998.

InterPacific is owned by Mr Feeney's Bermuda-based charity foundation Atlantic Philanthropies.

Corporate doctors Ferrier Hodgson will be appointed liquidators today to facilitate its sale.

Industry sources said InterPacific had been unsuccessfully trying to offload the South Stradbroke Island resort for several years.

The resort has won more than 50 domestic and international awards for excellence.


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