The iconic Airlie Beach Hotel freehold and leasehold rights have been bought by a Queensland hotel group for a combined $22 million.
The iconic Airlie Beach Hotel freehold and leasehold rights have been bought by a Queensland hotel group for a combined $22 million. Contributed

SOLD: A Whitsunday icon is under new ownership

AN ICON of the Airlie Beach social scene is about to celebrate yet another historic milestone.

After 30 years of ownership, the O'Neill family has sold the freehold of the famous Airlie Beach Hotel, two and half years after it first hit the market.

The iconic Airlie Beach Hotel freehold and leasehold rights have been bought by a Queensland hotel group for a combined $22 million.
The iconic Airlie Beach Hotel freehold and leasehold rights have been bought by a Queensland hotel group for a combined $22 million. TROY BANNISTER PHOTOGRAPHY

CBRE Hotels' agents Wayne Bunz and Hayley Manvell negotiated the sale to ABH Hotel Pty Ltd on behalf of the O'Neill family.

ABH Hotel Pty Ltd acquired the property freehold - 10 months after securing the leasehold interest.

The sale of the freehold and leasehold interests for a combined $22 million follows a recent $10 million refurbishment of the property.

ABH shareholders include Bonnie McFie, the wife of Queensland publican Mick McFie, Gold Coast solicitor Shanan Ramsden and Chris Giufre, managing director of Gold Coast investment firm, Wraith Capital.

Mr Mcfie said he felt very lucky and the group were moved with the local support shown by the community.

"We attribute the success of the venue to the overwhelming local support,” he said.

Publican Mick Mcfie, with wife Bonnie Mcfie, and daughter Isabelle Mcfie at the Airlie Beach Hotel opening on Saturday night.
Publican Mick Mcfie, with wife Bonnie Mcfie, and daughter Isabelle Mcfie at the Airlie Beach Hotel. Georgia Simpson

The Airlie Beach Hotel comprises 80 accommodation rooms, conferencing, commercial car park, restaurant, pub, retail liquor, 35 gaming machines and stable retail rental income.

CBRE Hotels' National Director Wayne Bunz said the new owners had immediately elevated returns, by optimising venue operations and reducing overheads.

"Their subsequent purchase of the property freehold provides further evidence of a resurgence in the Airlie Beach and broader Whitsundays region, with investor sentiment on the rise,” Mr Bunz said.

CBRE Hotels' Hayley Manvell said there was strong investor demand for coastal and regional assets priced below $25 million, with investors chasing yield in markets where occupancy levels were starting to rebound.

"Driving this rebound is the recovery in the resources sector, most notably the strong growth in the price of iron ore, coupled with the decline in the Australian dollar, which is resulting in increased levels of tourism,” Ms Manvell said.

"Further fueling interest is the cost of borrowing, with investors benefiting from record low interest rates following the RBA's delivery of two 25bps cuts since the federal election.”

Growing investor appetite for Queensland hotel assets has been evidenced by the recent sales of Coral Cay Mackay, Best Western Lake Kawana, Travelodge Rockhampton, Rydges Gladstone and Cairns Queenslander, with hotels also under contract in Townsville, Gold Coast and Cairns.

In the Whitsundays region, CBRE Hotels is also marketing Long Island Resort, as well Peppers Airlie Beach on behalf of receivers McGrathNicol.

"We predict that Queensland will once again be the most active investment market in Australia, for the second consecutive year,” Ms Manvell said.