Full house for hotels

THE string of 'no vacancy' signs along Nebo Rd has not gone unnoticed by large hotel chains, which are lining up to cash in on Mackay's booming accommodation business.

Mackay's tariffs are among the highest in the country, with 4.5-star accommodation costing an average $290 a night. It's a price many are willing to pay, however, a shortfall of up to 500 rooms is making it difficult for them to find a bed.

Resort Brokers Australia managing director Ian Crooks said Mackay's average 91% occupancy rate was attracting the attention of big hoteliers, with Oaks Hotels and Resorts, Swiss-Belhotel and Mantra Hotels keen to invest in the area.

Strong demand helped his company sell Mackay's 20-unit International Lodge Motel for $2.85 million earlier this year, he said.

"That motel sold well because in Mackay it runs at about 93% occupancy," Mr Crooks said.

"All the indications are that (Mackay's high occupancy rates) will be the same for ... the foreseeable future.

"Mackay is full the whole time. There's not only strong demand but there's very good tariffs.

"We're in the very top (tariff) level here, along with (Western Australian mining areas) Karratha and Port Hedland.

"There's a real need for more motels in Mackay."

A recent accommodation study revealed Mackay needed to almost double its number of hotel rooms by 2025, and Mackay Tourism general manager David Phillips believed there was already demand for up to 500 more.

Mr Phillips said the town's 2300 hotel and motel rooms were so hard to come by that some mining companies were booking large numbers of rooms for weeks at a time.

"For several years now the mining companies have not only been some of the best customers of our hotels... but from time to time they block out large amounts of rooms for periods of time. Some hotels or motels here have standing arrangements going on permanently or semi-permanently. Some of the Nebo Rd hotels have ongoing blocked bookings."

The Mackay Accommodation Study revealed a "critical" shortage of short-stay accommodation and predicted, based on a high-growth strategy, there would be demand for another 548 rooms by 2015, 1168 by 2020 and 1875 by 2025.

Construction of a 10-storey hotel, with 73 two-bedroom apartments, is expected to begin at Carlyle St in March and other hotels are planned at Latitude, which is under construction in Brisbane St, and beside the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre.

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