Daylesford’s historic Bellinzona Resort has been snapped up by local accommodation operators for about $4 million, with plans for a multimillion-dollar refurbishment that they say will make it the most luxurious in the region.
Tony DeMarco and Theresa Albioli, who own and manage 65 properties within the Daylesford area, say the acquisition complements their existing businesses.
“About a year ago, I said to the owner if they ever want to sell it, let us know,” Mr DeMarco said.
“It’s a beautiful old building and we just had to buy it. So we went in there and trumped everyone else and just bought it.
“I think there is a gap in the market in Daylesford. You can’t even go to Geelong and get a five-star hotel – there’s nothing there. So out of Melbourne, where else do you go to get quality five-star accommodation?”
Built in 1903, Bellinzona, which is set on 9739 square metres in Australia’s spa capital, was placed on the market in February and was marketed via private treaty by JLL Hotels and Hospitality Group’s Will Connolly and Nick MacFie.
Mr Connolly said they received close to 80 inquiries and multiple bids for the property despite the COVID-19-related restrictions.
“Interest was quite good. It did obviously dip in early March when all of this [COVID-19] came about but when people were starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, the interest was strong,” he said.
“I think it was always going to be the case with Bellinzona as it has so much potential.”
The 43-guest room resort also features a restaurant, cellar door wine bar, indoor heated pool, a spa, sauna and guest lounges.
Since its heyday, the well-known guest house has undergone many renovations, rebuilds and modifications.
In 1906 and again in 2003, it was ravaged by fires but both times was restored.
Mr Connolly said Bellinzona was offered with vacant possession and appealed to both investors and owner-operators.
“The incoming owners now have the ability to leverage off the well-established business and increase trading performance, while looking to further capitalise on, or reactivate, several areas to grow their respective market demand segments,” he said.
The sale was not only an encouraging sign for the region but also evidence that the industry was returning to a position of strength, Mr Connolly said.
“I think what sets it apart really comes down to timing and I think it’s a really positive sign for our industry coming out of this [COVID-19] where it will give other operators some form of belief that they can too, if they are thinking of selling and that there still is interest out there.”
Mr DeMarco was hopeful the extensive refurbishment would be completed by December.
“We are going to try and make it a destination so it’s going to have an upmarket gym, a pool and spa area, beautiful spa rooms … We are going to open up the kitchen and open up downstairs so anyone can come and eat,” he said.
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