VIDEO: Great Keppel's five-star future on cards
A NIGHT at the Hilton might be closer than you think for Central Queensland residents.
Tower Holdings CEO Terry Agnew was in Rockhampton yesterday to share his five star vision for the Great Keppel Island Revitalisation Project.
If his dream of an international chain running the five star hotel on Keppel joins the planned 700 luxury villas, 350 eco apartments, the Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course, marina and airport, Mr Agnew said it would sustain the local tourism industry for years to come.
Mr Agnew said the company went worldwide to obtain investors interested in the redevelopment of the Keppel project as a whole.
He said there had been tremendous interest, with more than 80 inquiries from investors including some from the largest hotel groups including Hilton and the Marriott Group.
"It is a big plus for Keppel they have had a look at it," he said.
After narrowing the field to about 10 dozen investors, talks are continuing.
"The biggest stumbling block is the hotel," Mr Agnew said.
"The cost of construction makes it very difficult to make a profit," he said.
Mr Agnew said no international hotel operator had run a new hotel on any island in the Great Barrier Reef.
"We have got the best island in the reef, the best location for a hotel," he said.
"We are looking for an operator who is a perfect fit."
Investor interest had come from Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and the US, but Mr Agnew admitted to chasing the Chinese market for a cash input into the $2billion development.
"They are doing developments like this, they get it," he said.
"Their question is, how are we going to make it work?"
Mr Agnew admitted it would have helped with investor confidence in the project if it had not been overlooked recently for a regional casino licence.
Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll said it would be fantastic if the project was given a boutique gaming licence, and the group had not given up hope.
Ms Carroll said she had discussed the topic with Premier Campbell Newman.
She said she would meet with him again on September 14 to discuss it further, in the hope of starting the project.
Demolition and construction at the Keppel Island resort area was due to start early next year but Mr Agnew said it would now be later but did not give a date.
Five big names looking at Keppel
Marriott Group (Ritz Carlton)
Starwood (St Regis brand)