Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud’s Australian hotel business Crystalbrook has expanded into Byron Bay with the $41.7 million acquisition of the Byron Bay Resort and Spa.
It is the first time the trophy asset has changed hands since retail mogul Gerry Harvey opened the 92-key resort on 45 hectares of land in 2005.
Harvey, who owns and operates the asset, appointed agents to run an expressions of interest campaign in May with a $40 million-plus price tag.
Aboud said that the acquisition of the Byron Bay resort is part of Crystalbrook’s continued “quest for growth” in Australia. The hotel brand has flagged a $1 billion development pipeline across the country.
To date the Crystalbrook portfolio includes the Hotel Riley in Cairns, the Little Albion in Sydney and the soon-to-open Bailey in Cairns.
Aboud paid a hefty $30 million for the 35-key Little Albion guest house in Surry Hills in 2018.
Projects under development for the group include the Flynn, also in Cairns, and the Kingsley in Newcastle. Both projects are slated to open next year, bringing Crystalbrook’s portfolio to 1,100 rooms.
The Kingsley will be Newcastle’s first five-star hotel after Aboud unveiled plans to redevelop the former government administrative building into a 136-room Crystalbrook Collection-branded hotel. Aboud paid $15.5 million to council for the site in March.
The Byron resort features 92 suites, a one-hatted restaurant, conference centre, infinity swimming pool, tennis court, gymnasium, lobby retail shop and day spa.
The asset is said to have attracted a number of high-profile bidders and hotel brands.
CBRE agent Wayne Bunz said the Byron Bay area is hard to enter for new accommodation offerings due to strict local environmental protection laws.
“Acquiring a land parcel and gaining the necessary approvals to build this type of asset in Byron Bay is notoriously difficult, and approvals of this nature may never again be repeated in the area,” Bunz said.
Settlement of the Byron at Byron is expected by September 2019.