Mulpha set to swoop on Sheraton Grand Mirage in Port Douglas
Aerial image of car driving along the Great Barrier Reef drive between Cairns & Port Douglas. Photo by @letsescapetogether

Mulpha set to swoop on Sheraton Grand Mirage in Port Douglas

Mulpha, the Malaysian developer and real estate investor controlled by billionaire Lee Ming Tee and his family, has emerged as the frontrunner to buy the famed Sheraton Grand Mirage resort in Port Douglas in Far North Queensland, originally developed by Christopher Skase.

While local Australian boss Greg Shaw declined to comment, well-placed sources said Mulpha, which owns the Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort, Intercontinental Sydney and the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, had struck a deal to acquire the Sheraton Mirage for over $100 million.

Comment was sought from the hotel’s Hong Kong-listed owner, Fullshare Holdings, which is chaired by Chinese billionaire Ji Changqun. A spokesman for Marriott, which operates the 295-room resort, declined to comment.

The resort, which was developed by Mr Skase in 1987 at a cost of about $100 million, transformed Port Douglas from a sleepy seaside village into major tourism destination for the rich and famous.

Set within 147 hectares of lush tropical gardens at the gateway to the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, the resort includes an 18-hole golf course, six restaurants and bars and large meeting and events spaces. Former US presidential couple Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta and Tom Hanks have all stayed at the resort.

Another Queensland resort developed by Christopher Skase (who fled to Majorca in Spain in the early 1990s after his business empire crumbled and died there in 2001), the Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast, was bought for $190 million by Rich Listers the Laundy and Karedis families.

Full-year accounts lodged for Five Seasons VI, the local Fullshare entity which owns and operates the Sheraton Mirage, shows the resort returned to profitability in the 12 months to December 2022 after being hit hard by lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021.

Over 2022, the resort lifted revenue 80 per cent to $67 million while profit before tax was $6.7 million – a turnaround from a loss of $4.3 million in the prior year.

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As part of its 2022 Annual Report, Fullshare reported annual earnings of $12 million, an average occupancy rate of 79 per cent and an average daily room rate of $433 at the Sheraton Mirage “all three of which placed the hotel in first place over its competitors”.

Fullshare acquired the Sheraton Mirage in 2011 in partnership with Melbourne theatre owner David Marriner, and about two years later took full ownership when Mr Marriner sold out.

In 2015, Fullshare spent $40 million refurbishing the resort including updating all its guestrooms, creating new suites with direct access to the lagoon pools, redeveloping the country club and the resort’s main buildings, surrounding pools and landscaping.

Mulpha’s plans to acquire the Sheraton Grand Mirage comes as it looks sell one of Auckland’s largest hotels, the Nesuto Stadium Hotel and Apartments, for about $70 million, as part of an asset recycling program.

The 10-level property offers 144 hotel rooms and 100 self-contained apartments. CBRE Hotels’ Michael Simpson and Wayne Bunz together with CBRE New Zealand’s Warren Hutt are handling the sale.

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