SALE CONFIRMED: A significant portion of Great Keppel Island is changing hands.
SALE CONFIRMED: A significant portion of Great Keppel Island is changing hands. Knight Frank

SOLD: New investors sign GKI contract

GRAND plans to transform Great Keppel Island will soon become a reality after the resort development was sold to an international developer yesterday.

A significant portion of Great Keppel Island is set to change hands following a successful expressions of interest international campaign run by Knight Frank and JLL Hotels for Tower Holdings to find a buyer for their development approved land on Great Keppel Island.

Current leaseholder Tower Holdings has now signed and exchanged a contract with a preferred buyer for its lease holdings, a Singaporean/Taiwanese group based in Singapore, Wei Chao Pty Ltd Singapore for 970.9 ha of development approved land on the island, subject to State and Federal Government requirements.

While an agreement has been reached, the sale process is yet to be finalised and was expected to be completed by the first half of next year.

Current development approvals for the island include a 250-room beachfront hotel, 300 luxury apartments, 285 luxury villas, 9,000sq m of retail shops and a 250-berth marina.

The airstrip also has approval to be extended from the current 800 metres to 1.5 kilometres, which would substantially improve visitor capacity by enabling jet airliners to land, with the potential for direct flights to Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.

Knight Frank Rockhampton's Principal Partner Pat O'Driscoll, Knight Frank Partner and Head of Queensland Ben McGrath and Knight Frank Partner in Sydney Dominic Ong have been exclusively marketing Great Keppel Island with JLL Hotels Vice President Tom Gibson for Terry Agnew of Tower Holdings.

 

CELEBRATING SALE: Knight Frank's Pat O'Driscoll, Mayor Bill Ludwig, Knight Frank's Ben McGrath, investor CK, Isabella Wei, Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll, investment partner Hsiao Yuan Ju, Knight Frank's Tom Gibson and Member for Keppel MP Brittany Lauga.
CELEBRATING SALE: Knight Frank's Pat O'Driscoll, Mayor Bill Ludwig, Knight Frank's Ben McGrath, investor CK, Isabella Wei, Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll, investment partner Hsiao Yuan Ju, Knight Frank's Tom Gibson and Member for Keppel MP Brittany Lauga. Contributed

Mr O'Driscoll said the international marketing campaign resulted in over 100 requests for information memorandums from all over the world including America, China, Singapore, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Europe.

"The campaign closed in the middle of June this year and discussions, negotiations and inspections for this rare offering have been ongoing with several interested parties over the past months, before the agreement with the buyer was struck," Mr O'Driscoll said.

"While an agreement has been reached, the sale process is yet to be finalised - we anticipate the sale will be completed within the first half of next year. But it's an exciting move forward for the island and Queensland's tourism industry, with the development of Australia's next tourism icon in sight now.

"Great Keppel is widely regarded as one of Australia's most beautiful tropical Islands. It is the largest in the Keppel group of Islands with a total area of some 1454 ha and boasts 17 white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters just 12 kilometres off Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef."

 

GKI MAP: Location of the Great Keppel Island resort.
GKI MAP: Location of the Great Keppel Island resort. Contributed

Mr Gibson said the sale of Great Keppel Island is the fifth Great Barrier Reef island sale over the past two years, which includes South Molle Island, Daydream Island, Wilson Island and Heron Island.

"It is an exceptional news story for not just the Queensland tourism industry, but the whole of tourism in Australia," Mr Gibson said.

"Private investment continues to pour into Great Barrier Reef, most notably with the rebranding of Hayman and Daydream Island, the ongoing expansion of Hamilton Island and the product investment into Lizard, Bedarra and Orpheus Island."

Mary Carroll, Chief Executive of the region's peak tourism and economic development body, Capricorn Enterprise, said: "Great Keppel Island is a very special place on the Capricorn Coast and Southern Great Barrier Reef and the next chapter in its development will be another game changer for our tourism industry.

"Whilst up to ten commercial operators offering 300 beds and a variety of water tour activities have survived and thrived over the past decade after the resort closure, we all acknowledge that a new resort with mainland connection of water and power will help realise the island's full tourism potential, creating jobs and growth for our destination," Ms Carroll said.

 

Various pictures of the GKI Resort demolition site
View from the GKI Resort demolition site Leighton Smith

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said the agreement was another positive step forward to the revitalisation of Great Keppel Island.

"We have all been waiting for something to happen on GKI since the old resort was closed over 10 years ago. I look forward to the project progressing to construction.

"Great Keppel Island is the jewel in the crown of our region and the Palaszczuk Government is proud to be investing $25 million into the supply of power and water to the island in order to grow tourism and jobs across the entire Central Queensland community.

"The international interest in the island just goes to show the strong confidence investors have in the future of our beautiful region."

"While we still have to do due diligence on the new investor it just goes to show our decision to invest in the Great Barrier Reef islands is the right one.

Ms Lauga said she met with the investment partners Isabella Wei, her husband CK and business partner Hsiao Yuan Ju this week alongside Mayor Bill Ludwig, Knight Frank's Pat O'Driscoll and Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll.

"I have offered my support because I know the community wants to see something happen on Great Keppel Island," she said.

"We want a whole new generation of tourists to fall in love with Great Keppel Island.'

A recent agreement with a cryptocurrency consortium for the island did not proceed.