A AUD$250 million Westin hotel is set to be developed on the Darwin Waterfront following a green light for the project to go ahead.
Northern Territory Chief Minister, Adam Giles, made the announcement, saying the development of a world-class hotel will be a “game changer” for tourism in the Top End.
The hotel will be developed by Landbridge on waterfront land comprising part of the former Toga site, recently returned to the NT Government after 18 months of negotiation.
While the Chief Minister this week (Aug 3) signed a binding heads of agreement for the project to go ahead, Starwood has yet to officially announce the hotel as agreements are yet to be signed.
In a statement obtained by HM, Starwood said: “We are delighted to be in discussions with Landbridge Group regarding a proposed Westin hotel in Darwin.
“This presents an exciting opportunity for Starwood to open its first Westin hotel in the Northern Territory and the waterfront location is well suited to a brand such as Westin, which is focused on well-being on the road.
“The proposed, new-build waterfront hotel will support demand from the growing business travel sector being driven into Darwin and provide a new level of accommodation for high end business and leisure travellers.
“This partnership also presents an incredible opportunity for Starwood to further its growth strategy for the Westin brand in Australia and the Pacific Region, following the recent signing of the Westin Coolum Resort & Spa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Starwood currently operates Westin hotels in Sydney, Melbourne and Fiji, with the Westin Perth and Westin Brisbane slated to open in 2018.
“The proposed project remains subject to the negotiation and execution of definitive agreements and the approval of the parties’ Board of Directors,” Starwood said.
Giles said the luxury development would assist “unsatisfied demand” in Darwin.
“The agreement will deliver the Government’s objective to meet unsatisfied demand for luxury accommodation in Darwin through a vibrant, integrated development of world-class standard,” he said.
“The deal builds on the strategic partnership between the Government and Landbridge, and reflects both parties’ keen commitment to the ongoing economic growth and development of the Northern Territory.
“The development is set to boost the economy, act as a drawcard for increased high-end business and leisure visitors, and give Darwin a significant edge in the lucrative business conference market.
“Commencement next year will surpass the Government’s target three years early to build a $2.2 billion visitor economy by 2020,” Giles said.
The project will also mark Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ debut in Darwin through the introduction of its Westin brand to the Northern Territory.
The Government recently announced that as a direct result of stakeholder and community feedback, the development will not be located on Jervois Park, which will remain as public open space.
Construction is expected to begin next year for completion by 2020.
In addition to offering 2.9 hectares of the former Toga land for the development, the Government has agreed to provide up to $10 million towards connecting services to the site.
Landbridge has also been offered an 18-month call option over an additional 1.5 hectares of the former Toga land on commercial terms.
The Government will not provide any support towards the hotel’s ongoing operations.
“The luxury hotel development is expected to provide a significant economic boost and generate more than 500 jobs during the construction phase and hundreds of ongoing jobs when it opens,” Giles said.
“It will be the anchor tenant to drive increased growth in Asian tourism to the Northern Territory.”