The Star casino in line for $100m overhaul

The Star casino in line for $100m overhaul, By Lisa Allen - 22nd May 2015

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Echo Entertainment chief executive Matt Bekier. Picture: Hollie Adams Source: News Corp Australia

Echo Entertainment will spend $100 million renovating hotel rooms and serviced apartments at The Star casino, in Sydney’s Pyrmont, in a bid to combat major international competition as well as James Packer’s proposed six-star hotel at Barangaroo South.

Given The Star’s hotel rooms and serviced apartments have high occupancy rates, Echo Entertainment is also looking to expand its accommodation capacity within the immediate Pyrmont precinct over the next five years to enhance its position in Sydney’s hospitality sector.

But The Australian understands that plans for the full renovation of Echo’s The Astral Tower hotel and The Astral Residences serviced apartment complex are far more advanced, with Echo Entertainment planning to turn up the luxury factor of its accommodation offerings, which opened almost 18 years ago.

In line with some of the world’s higher-profile themed hotels, Echo also plans to give themes to several levels in The Astral Tower’s hotel rooms with a range of designs including 1970s glam.

Under the refurbishment plans, Echo will also add more ­suites to The Astral Tower’s existing quota of about 350 hotel rooms.

The staged refurbishment, during which the casino, hotels and restaurants will continue to operate, will begin in the next couple of months.

The renovation comes on the heels of the $870 million transformation of The Star, which reopened several years ago with the introduction of new restaurants, specialty fashion stores, events centre and upmarket food and beverage outlets.

Echo’s decision to revamp the hotel and serviced apartment tower, which sports about 130 one, two and three-bedroom ­suites, comes as several major hotel developments and renovations come on stream in and around Pyrmont. The overhaul is scheduled for completion ahead of the Packer-backed Crown, which is slated to open in 2019.

In a bid to head off competition from several nearby internationally branded hotels, Echo will also add an upmarket executive club lounge, conference ­facilities and a business centre to The Astral Tower in what could be a first for Pyrmont, on the edge of the Sydney CBD.

As part of the $100m outlay — to be funded via cash reserves — Echo Entertainment will also completely redevelop The Star’s hotel lobby, with all work to be completed by 2017.

At the same time, Lend Lease is developing the 616-room International Convention Centre at nearby Darling Harbour that has been bought by the nation’s largest hotelier, Jerry Schwartz, for $368m. And Singapore’s billion­aire Kum family are putting the finishing touches to a major renovation of the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Sussex Street, which at 915 rooms will be Australia’s largest hotel when it opens later this year.

Further north, Echo is spending $345m renovating Jupiters Gold Coast, including the refurbishment of the five-star, 592-room hotel to create an integrated resort on Broadbeach Island.

Echo, in a consortium with Far East and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, is also bidding for the Queen’s Wharf Project in Brisbane against a consortium involving the mainland China-backed Greenland Holding Group and Mr Packer’s Crown Resorts.

The Queensland government wants a new world city development on the waterfront site connecting Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens and South Bank. The winning bidder is expected to be announced within months.

(The Australian)