G’day Group swoops on iconic outback properties

Delaware North divests El Questro, Kings Canyon Resort

Australian outback tourism assets El Questro in Western Australia and Kings Canyon Resort in the Northern Territory have been acquired by G’day Group from Delaware North.

The US-headquartered Delaware North took over the management of El Questro, Kings Canyon Resort and three other resorts (Queensland’s Lizard Island Resort, Heron Island Resort and Wilson Island Resort) in 2009 when it acquired Voyages Hotels & Resorts brand from the GPT Group.

The divestment of the two outback properties is in-line with Delaware North’s current strategy centred on hospitality services.

With El Questro and Kings Canyon traditionally reliant upon international visitors, the move by G’day Group is a sign of confidence in a strong rebound for inbound tourism once borders reopen.

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A boom in domestic regional travel and roadtrips stemming from international border closures has given G’day Group the confidence to purchase the two resorts, along with Lane Cove Holiday Park in NSW, for $60 million.

Prior to Christmas 2020, G’day Group revealed it would invest $100 million across South Australia and New South Wales, which included acquiring two resorts and convention centres.

Founded 17 years ago with an initial three parks in regional WA, the Australian-owned G’day Group says it is now the largest regional tourism provider in the country, with 220+ independent parks, on top of its owned stable.

“COVID has caused devastation for the tourism industry broadly, however we’re so fortunate that closed borders have delivered a golden era for our corner of the sector,” said Grant Wilckens, CEO of the G’Day Group.

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“While G’day Group’s roots have been in traditional holiday parks, in recent years we’ve been investing in higher end, experiential tourism. We built the award-wining Discovery – Rottnest Island, a glamping resort in WA along with buying a number of other resorts, country clubs and golf courses.”

“Most of our regions are enjoying a golden era, with Aussies holidaying at home like never before,” said Wilckens.

“Regional operators had a tough 2020 but most are now thriving, and the challenge will be keeping regional visitation strong when international borders re-open. Aussies will then head overseas, and we need to entice our inbound visitors beyond our capital cities and out into our regions,” Wilckens said.

Kings Canyon, Northern Territory

Gary Brown, Managing Director of Delaware North said that selling off Kings Canyon Resort and El Questro Resort, and more recently Lane Cove Holiday Park, had been a “difficult decision”.

“As Delaware North, along with the broader hospitality industry, continues to rebound from the impact of COVID-19, this strategic divestiture aligns with the company’s decision to refocus on its core business of providing world-class hospitality services at high-profile places such as sports stadiums, airports, casinos and remote mining locations, while retaining the connection to operating in iconic locations through Lizard Island Resort, north of Cairns, and Pinewood Lodge, in Queenstown, New Zealand.”

Brown added, “Delaware North is proud of its record of operating Kings Canyon Resort, El Questro Resort and Lane Cove Holiday Park, and recognises its success in enhancing the guest experience at these properties would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of its valued team members. We look forward to working closely with the G’day Group to ensure a seamless transition.”

Combined with a major upgrade to the company’s Broome property, the acquisitions of El Questro and Kings Canyon Resort will see the G’day Group champion drive tourism through the top end.

El Questro will reopen following settlement, having been closed since COVID hit in March 2020.

G’day Group has upgrades planned for each property, particularly King Canyon Resort, with collective upgrades anticipated to be $22 million, creating 272 regional Australian jobs during construction.

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El Questro Homestead, part of the El Questro property, is a member of the Luxury Lodges of Australia.

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