5 star Westin resort planned for Gnarabup coastline

Million dollar views: WA Premier Mark McGowan surveys the Gnarabup coastline where a new 120 room resort is set to open in 2023. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre
Million dollar views: WA Premier Mark McGowan surveys the Gnarabup coastline where a new 120 room resort is set to open in 2023. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

A section of Gnarabup coastline that has been earmarked as a potential resort site will be transformed with the announcement of a new 120 room hotel development.

Premier Mark McGowan was in Margaret River on Tuesday along with Tourism Minister Paul Papalia and representatives from the Marriott International group and developer, Saracen Properties.

The Premier said the Westin Margaret River Resort & Spa would create about 300 jobs during construction and approximately 100 ongoing jobs once the hotel opens in 2023.

Premier Mark McGowan and Augusta Margaret River Shire President Ian Earl at the announcement on Monday. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

Premier Mark McGowan and Augusta Margaret River Shire President Ian Earl at the announcement on Monday. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

South West Development Commission CEO Mellisa Teede takes a closer look at the plans. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

South West Development Commission CEO Mellisa Teede takes a closer look at the plans. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

"This is the first five star hotel in Margaret River and is a great employment opportunity for people in the South West," he said.

"It is a great demonstration of the confidence in the State's economy.

"This will attract tourists from all over Australia, and all over the world when borders open."

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia echoed the Premier's words.

"This is an incredibly exciting announcement, to have one of the world's leading hotel chains come and build a five star hotel right here in Margaret River.

"It's a confirmation of just what a quality destination Margaret River and Australia's South West is.

"Before the COVID-19 crisis, we had seen two years running of record levels of out of state visitor numbers.

"More tourists came to Western Australia from interstate and overseas than ever before in history, and Margaret River is absolutely central to attracting those visitors."

Augusta Margaret River Shire President Ian Earl said the region would benefit from the development.

"For us in the community this is a nice, bright light out there at the end of this coronavirus tunnel," he said.

"This gives us some real good hope for our future for tourism. We've got a lot to offer down here, and this will generate other stuff in our region."

The resort will also boast a restaurant and conference facilities as well as a luxury spa. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

The resort will also boast a restaurant and conference facilities as well as a luxury spa. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

The hotel is being designed by WA architect Christou Design Group, with WA companies Saracen Properties and Security Capital Australia carrying out the joint development of the project.

Luke Saraceni said the group had called for expressions of interest a few months ago and received submissions from "nine of the top hotel chains in the world" to secure the location.

"The previous owners had approvals for this site, and these will be amended to suit the brief of the Westin plans."

Westin Perth General Manager Peter Brampton said the hotel would be capped at two stories and would also feature three food and beverage outlets including a 200 seat restaurant, 400 square metres of event space and 45 luxury suites.

"We operate 7,300 hotels around the world including the Westin Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne with Westin hotels currently under construction in Darwin, Adelaide and Coolum.

"We have 140 million loyalty members and we look forward to enticing each and every one of them to come down and enjoy what the Margaret River region has to offer."

Margaret River resident Sue Gibson said she was against the plans, concerned that traditional landowners had not been consulted over the resort. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

Margaret River resident Sue Gibson said she was against the plans, concerned that traditional landowners had not been consulted over the resort. Photo: Nicky Lefebvre

The news was not welcomed by all in the area, with Margaret River resident Sue Gibson voicing concerns over the development's impact on the coastline.

"We have a lot of tourists in Margaret River. We probably don't need to attract the sort of people who'd come to a five star hotel," she said.

"It needs a lot more research and a lot more people knowing about it.

"When is it going to council? When is it going to be put out to the public? I can guarantee you the people who live down there will have a lot to say about this."

Ms Gibson said the issue had made her emotional.

"This whole area is sacred, there are caves all under here and around there. For me, this is going to be a repeat of the Rio Tinto thing. I don't know if any of the indigenous people from this area even know about it.

"It's not a wilderness anymore, we've got that whole development over there already that's happened in the last 30 years.

"This is going to be a scar on our landscape."