$40m development to revitalise Rottnest Island lodge site

$40m development to revitalise Rottnest Island lodge site

Photo: Rottnest Island Authority.

A Perth-based consortium has been chosen by the WA Government to start development of a $40 million resort on Rottnest Island in mid-2022, with the proposed design soon to be advertised for public comment prior to final approval from the island's authority.

The consortium including Place Development Australia, GPA Pty Ltd and Sirona Capital has been selected over five short-listed options as the preferred proponent to redevelop the Rottnest Island Lodge, following calls for expressions of interest in March last year.

It is a move that follows the opening of Discovery Rottnest in 2019 and Samphire Rottnest in 2020.

The proposal includes 94 rooms, a day spa, restaurant, kiosk, beach lounge, coffee shop, bar, new pool and on-site staff accommodation.

Designed by Fremantle architects Spaceagency, the development will consist of a combination of new buildings to integrate with the natural environment, plus extensive upgrades to existing buildings including the Lakeside Villas and accommodation within the former Boys Reformatory.

A series of landscaped gardens will also be created to enhance the area's open spaces and provide a public gathering area.

Design guidelines conditionally endorsed by the Heritage Council were utilised to guide the development proposal, with submissions assessed by an expert panel including representatives from Rottnest Island Authority (RIA), Office of Government Architect and a member of the Wadjemup Aboriginal Reference Group (WARG).

Place Development is expected to take over the leasehold of the Lodge site on May 31, 2022 on expiry of the current lease with the Karma Group.

"I am delighted that a Western Australian consortium is leading this significant development on our iconic Rottnest Island," says WA Tourism Minister David Templeman.

"Place Development is a specialised property delivery team driving projects through the phases of acquisition, master planning, design and delivery. Recent high-profile projects include the Westin Perth and Hibernian Place in the Perth CBD and Fremantle's FOMO-Kings Square."

Minister Templeman says the proposal brings together a consortium of highly-regarded operators for the hotel, food and beverage operations, and the wellness spa.

"Place Development is committed to respecting the important cultural history of the Island and the Lodge site through harmonious design elements that will enhance the natural surrounds and provide a premium visitor experience," he says.

"The design incorporates a series of gardens set around the buildings known as the 'Gathering Ground', which will be used as a social hub where guests, island visitors and tour operators are welcomed and able to meet, start a tour, or to just relax and take in the natural surrounds.

"This exciting redevelopment planned for Rottnest will help to stimulate the Island by attracting new visitors, offering regular visitors new accommodation with a range of affordable and boutique options while providing new visitor experiences and amenities."

RIA has undertaken extensive due diligence on the Lodge site including ground penetrating radar surveys, an ethnographic survey and an archaeological survey in conjunction with Whadjuk Noongar Traditional Owners. The lease boundary for the project was adjusted to exclude any potentially sensitive areas.

The Lodge is situated next to the former Aboriginal prison building known as the "Quod". Whadjuk Noongar people will lead consultation on a proposal for the future of the Quod as part of The Wadjemup Project.

Redevelopment of the Lodge site is anticipated to start in mid 2022 with completion in 2025, and is expected to generate a significant number of construction and hospitality jobs.

The Island has benefited from a number of major infrastructure projects in 2020 including the upgrade of 10 kilometres of roads in the settlement, construction of a new $3 million Fuel Jetty and a major redevelopment of the Island museum, which has been renamed Wadjemup Museum to reflect the Island's Aboriginal heritage and honour the Whadjuk Noongar Traditional Owners.

The main retail mall in the settlement and the Basin precinct will also undergo major upgrades this winter.

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