HM SPEAKS TO SEAN WATT, GENERAL MANAGER OF MIRVAC’S QUAY WEST RESORT BUNKER BAY, LOCATED IN THE HEART OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S MARGARET RIVER WINE REGION.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON
HM: Sean, how is Quay West Resort Bunker Bay performing at present and what are you expecting for the next 12-18 months?
SEAN WATT: The financial year 2009/10 is tracking relatively well, with July, August and September already achieving a 10-15% higher occupancy than the corresponding period in 2008/09. We have good business on the books for Christmas and the New Year, which is a favourite time for the Margaret River Region and we enjoy a fairly healthy return guest ratio.
HM: Which market segments are you expecting to be the strongest in 2010?
SW: Domestic leisure continues to be our strongest market, with continued growth/interest from the east coast which has been assisted by accessible and cost friendly air travel. We are also seeing a pick up on conferencing and of course the wedding market is great for us because we have such a romantic location.
HM: How is the Margaret River market performing and how is the industry banding together to maintain strong visitor arrivals?
SW: I believe that the Margaret River Region has worked extremely well with the various tourism bodies and that we are certainly becoming a well recognised tourist destination offering a wide variety of attractions all year round to attract a wide audience.
HM: What interest are you seeing in the region from outside Western Australia and do you believe the Australian East Coast states will be key markets for the hotel over the next twelve months?
SW: Definitely continued growth and interest from the east coast which has been assisted by accessible and cost friendly air travel and big-name events in internationally acclaimed wineries.
HM: What are the main challenges facing the hotel at present?
SW: Whilst remoteness is a drawcard to many, especially those who feel they want a complete escape, it does still offer a challenge to some and what we need to do is convince some visitors to drive from Perth to Bunker Bay. But once they have arrived, they appreciate the tranquillity of Bunker Bay and the surrounds. Also, staffing will continue be a challenge irrespective of the state of the economy. I say this because the majority of the front line hospitality staff are young and in the early stages of their working life and they are primarily here for a relatively short period and then move on to their next adventure.
HM: What makes the hotel so unique in your opinion?
SW: The simplicity of the location just emphasises the beauty of the area – from beaches to vineyards, restaurants and art galleries. Everything is accessible with ease, from the luxury accommodations to the superb facilities, being the restaurant, bar, swimming pool, tennis courts and of the indulgent Mii Spa.
HM: You have some excellent F&B on offer at the hotel. What are the highlights in your opinion?
SW: The variety and freshness of local product available and with the seasonal changes made to our menu highlighting this vast and diverse range of food and beverage on hand. Obviously the renowned quality of our Margaret Rivers wines is a highlight.
HM: The hotel is very strong in the MICE segment. What does the hotel offer in the way of MICE facilities?
SW: Quay West Resort Bunker Bay offers a diverse selection of function, conference and catering options which range from our small private function rooms – The Shivery, Sugarloaf and The Snug – to our extensive Windmills function rooms which cater for up to 120. We also have our magnificent Bunker Bay Marquee that can easily manage 250 for a spectacular gala dinner.
HM: How is the MICE market performing and what are you expecting for the next twelve months?
SW: As mentioned, the 2009/10 financial year is currently tracking very well and includes strong conference business on the books. There certainly seems to be renewed confidence with in this market segment and we are optimistic of a robust 2010 and even brighter 2011.