Tropical North Queensland’s premium business events products, including accommodation, attractions and venues, were on show to 30 event planners and media recently for the annual Sell TNQ program. Sell TNQ 2017 was a particularly exciting edition, as delegates were able to see first-hand the array of developments taking shape. Rosie Douglas, director of business events at Cairns and Great Barrier Reef, says 2017 has seen the start of an exciting era for the region.
“New hotels, attractions and experiences bring a new level of interest into the region which allows us to showcase not only these new developments but remind people of the world class infrastructure that already operates in the region,” she says.
The new-build Cairns Aquarium recently opened its doors, bringing a new attraction and event space to the city. The fact that the construction of the aquarium saw the first cranes in the city in a decade shows it truly is a new era for Cairns. Nearby, the first of the three
Crystalbrook Collection hotels coming to Cairns is starting to take shape. Opening in August 2018, the hotel has been called “Riley” and will feature a playful, contemporary design. Located on the Esplanade, Riley will boast 311 rooms including six suites, dining and bar options, and meeting spaces for up to 400 people.
Following this, Crystalbrook Collection will open a 220-room hotel in mid-2019 and a third hotel in early 2020 with just over 300 rooms. The Crystalbrook development is having a flow-on effect on the rest of the region’s accommodation offering, with a few hotels already hinting at refurbishments in the very near future. Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort will be releasing details soon about its upcoming refurbishment, and Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns has confirmed a full hotel refurbishment that will start next year.
Cairns is also gearing up for the 2018 Commonwealth Games that will take place on Queensland’s Gold Coast in April. While majority of the action will be happening down south, Cairns Convention Centre will host preliminary rounds of the Men’s and Women’s basketball. The state government has backed the region and its period of growth by announcing $176 million in funding for an upgrade and expansion of Cairns Convention Centre. While details of what the expansion will look like are still under wraps, the centre has confirmed it will include a refurbishment of the existing building plus new exhibition space and meeting rooms.
Hemingway’s Brewery is also starting to take shape in the heritage-listed Shed 2 of the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal. When it opens in mid-2018, it will feature a state-of-the-art brewery with 10 times the capacity of Hemingway’s original venue in Port Douglas. The multimillion dollar development will comprise a gastro brewpub housing seven, 7000 litre fermentation tanks, a restaurant and dedicated event space.
The post-touring activities for Sell TNQ saw delegates spend a night in Palm Cove, staying across Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort & Spa and Pepper Beach Club & Spa. On the way delegates stopped in at Tjapukai Cultural Park, to take part in indigenous activities, from Aboriginal dance to spear and boomerang throwing. Tjapukai unveiled a $13 million redevelopment in 2015, and now boasts new technology and expanded event space. The group headed to NuNu restaurant for lunch, where co-owner and head chef Nick Holloway gave a cooking demonstration before serving up a three-course lunch that championed local produce which delegates described as the stand-out meal of the trip. Dinner was held at The Venue at AJ Hackett Cairns, which can host up to 1000 guests across its three main areas. After dinner, and bit of Dutch courage, a few brave delegates took on the world’s fastest Minjin Jungle Swing.
The final destination on the post tour was Port Douglas, which is also about to see some exciting developments take shape. Crystalbrook Collection recently purchased The Reef Marina in Port Douglas, announcing it will invest $100 million to transform it into a superyacht marina. Now known as the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, it will eventually include a 100-room luxury hotel, new retail and dining spaces and an expanded marina to cater to more vessels. Construction is slated to begin in mid-2018, with completion anticipated for 2020. On the way to Port Douglas, delegates got up close with the crocodiles at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, before taking a guided Dreamtime Walk through Mosman Gorge to learn about the local Kuku Yalanji culture. Delegates then arrived at the secluded Thala Beach Nature Reserve, where lunch was served in the treetops alongside incredible views across the Coral Sea. Arriving in Port Douglas, the group set off on a sunset sail with Aquarius Sail & Snorkel, before dinner at the rustic Sugar Wharf, which is located right on the waterfront and has an adjoining outdoor balcony perfect for pre-dinner drinks. Delegates gathered on the final day at QT Port Douglas for a Tai Chi lesson and breakfast.