Joint venture to go ahead with US$12.2 million Western Australia resort aimed solely at Chinese tourists

Cheryl Arcibal

A joint venture between an Australian and a Chinese company will go ahead with the development of a A$18.2 million (US$12.23 million) resort project in Western Australia targeting solely Chinese tourists.

Dyno Zhang’s Shanghai-based Macro Capital Limited, a licensed fund manager in Australia, and Sam Barnett’s Pearllargo are partnering on Kaleidescope Resort, a five-star resort with 68 rooms close to the Hutt Lagoon, a large pink lake popular among tourists. The project is to be built on 311 acres of oceanfront land in Yallabatharra, and its target completion date is November 2022.

Zhang is a former managing director of Chinese group 3 Oceans, and Barnett is a son of former Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett.

“Pearllargo does not have any plans to advertise the resort outside China,” Barnett said, adding that by the time it opens, the deadly Covid-19 outbreak would have been dealt with. “Long term, Australia has established itself as a staple tourism destination. An average of 1.3 million Chinese tourists visit Australia annually. This represents 15 per cent of the total inbound market and is worth A$11.5 billion to the Australian economy annually,” he said.

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The project will feature local Cantonese and Mandarin speaking staff, traditional cuisine, equestrian sports and sunset horse rides on the beach.

Barnett said he was optimistic about the project, which will be launched at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Hong Kong. Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson 5 fame will help promote Kaleidescope Resort, he added.

A rendition of the Kaleidescope Resort in Australia. Photo: Handout

Others were less optimistic about the joint venture’s strategy of relying solely on a single market, in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. The illness has affected a range of sectors as Chinese consumers stay home amid an unprecedented lockdown in mainland China.

“The short-term impact of [the outbreak] has been severe, in particular on hotel occupancy, as well as retail and hospitality, especially in Chinese community hubs [in Australia],” said Matthew Khoo, managing director of Melbourne-based developer ICD Property.

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Khoo said restaurants had been forced to close and lay off staff owing to a reduced number of customers, with “some claiming up to 70 per cent to 80 per cent lower numbers than normal”.

In the two-week Lunar New Year holiday period, only two of Australia’s top 10 hotel markets registered positive revenue per available room performance, according to STR, which tracks hotel occupancy and performance. “As travel restrictions were enforced, the impact was more noticeable,” said Matthew Burke, STR’s regional manager for Australia.

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