17th August 2016
South Molle Island has been sold to China Capital Investment Group for roughly $25 million. The new owners also own Daydream Island, expanding their share in the Whitsundays at the heart of Great Barrier Reef tourism.
Long-time owner Craig Ross decided to put the island's perpetual leasehold up for sale in April following a number of unsolicited approaches from developers and investors. Ross, a tourism identity in his own right, has owned the island for 15 years and while he described his time as owner as 'amazing', he wishes the new owners all the best.
In total 27 hectares of the island were up for sale including a 15 hectare parcel of land surrounded by national park in the heart of the island as well as 12 hectares of beachfront land for development including a 600m frontage to one of the region's only north-facing sheltered white sand beaches. The sale also came with existing amenities and 188-room resort.
According to the information memorandum, the island offers "unparalleled large-scale development potential" with the opportunity for a 1300-room resort development if planning is approved. The sale is one of many signalling increasing Chinese investment in Australian resorts including the Gold Coast's Jewel project by Dalian Wanda and the recent $40 million acquisition in Surfers Paradise by Tony Fung, the famous Hong Kong billionaire.
Shanghai-based buyers China Capital Investment Group has increased its stake in the Whitsundays after snapping up West Molle Island last year. The foreign investors purchased Daydream Island Resort and Spa for $30 million from Vaughan Bullivant. Founded by Chuanyou Zhou, China Capital Investment Group typically invests in mining, infrastructure and real estate. According to their website, the investment group welcomed Queensland tourism minister Megan Houghton and Queensland education minister Kate Jones to their offices last year to discuss potential Queensland investment opportunities.