Lizard Island Resort taps into APAC market

Wellness and fishing focus for Australia's sole Relais & Chateaux hotel member

Lizard Island Resort on the Great Barrier Reef debuted at ILTM Asia Pacific this week in an effort to tap deeper into new markets including Chinese New Year holidaymakers.

Mark Leslie, General Manager of Lizard Island Resort said 70% of Lizard Island’s business was from the United States, with the balance a mix of guests from the UK and “a bit of Australia”.

“The Asia Pacific market isn’t there, and that’s why I’m here,” he told LATTEat the multi-day luxury show in Singapore.

Aerial view, Lizard Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef

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“This is the first time we’ve ever done an event in APAC, at all. It’s never been done before this week,” Leslie said of his participation.

Owned by Delaware North in the USA, Leslie said his there are gaps in the year where Lizard Island is that quiet the Luxury Lodges of Australia member closes its doors for a couple of weeks. His mission is to plug those vacancy gaps.

In relation to Chinese New Year, Leslie says “that time of the year has never been a focus. The American market isn’t travelling, the Australian market isn’t travelling and so we would close the island for two weeks, which doesn’t make any sense.”

“We intend to tap into the southeast Asia market,” he said. “In Singapore there is the diplomatic and the expat market that can get away for three days on a long weekend. Cairns is a 6-hour flight from Singapore, and there are two flights a day into Cairns, and the flights are full,” he said, meaning there’s ample traffic in the region.

Pavilion, Living room - Lizard Island Resort

Leslie joined the Far North Queensland resort in January of this year. The experienced hotelier’s history includes stints as GM at Six Senses Zil Pasyon in the Seychelles, Virgin Limited Edition in the British Virgin Islands and VOMO Island Fiji. This year may be Lizard Island Resort’s first at an ILTM event, but its not Leslie’s.

In March, LATTE reported first that Lizard Island had been accepted into the Relais & Chateaux portfolio, the sole accommodation partner in the collective in Australia. (Relaix & Chateaux has another four members in Australia but they are all restaurants).

“Obviously the affiliation with Relais & Chateaux will make a big difference, globally. It sets a benchmark that everybody knows that Lizard Island Resort is at that level.”

Mermaid Cove, Lizard Island, Far North Queensland

With his past resort history in the wellness space, among his next projects will be the addition of improved spa and wellness facilities which will occupy existing and new developments on Lizard Island.

“We’re going to be going through an area of development with a big focus on wellness and spa, so there’s going to be a huge element.”

Leslie told LATTE that will include switching spa products to Sodashi Skincare – a brand he has had past experience at his previous resorts.

The resort will also amplify its game fishing message to drive further interest in the region with anglers.

“There is more Marlin caught off Lizard Island than all of the world put together in Marlin season,” he said.

Pisces is your luxury 56’ motor yacht for reef snorkelling, swimming, diving and fishing on the Great Barrier Reef

Leslie will also target the salt-water fly fishing phenomena from sandbars not far from Lizard Island. “The majority of the fish caught is coral trout, snapper, Spanish mackerel… which is always on the restaurant menu,” he adds.

Lizard Island Resort occupies just 20% of the island on which it sits, with the remainder National Park. There are 24 pristine beaches on the island, all accessible by boat or hiking. Leslie notes that the resort has had to cease its ‘beach clean ups’ around the island because they are that immaculate, there’s nothing to collect.

Lizard Island is a scenic one hour flight from Cairns. Flights operate twice a day.


Lead image: Mark Leslie, GM Lizard Island Resort at ILTM Asia Pacific 2024

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