Queen’s Wharf on track to open in 2022 as first pieces come together
The $3.2 billion Queen’s Wharf casino and entertainment complex will market itself more towards the luxury tourism market than so-called “high rollers” when it opens in 2022.
The Brisbane Times reports that Star Entertainment Group chief executive Matt Bekier said the international impact of coronavirus forced the company to rethink its appeal to attract guests to the luxury hotel accommodation in Brisbane.
“COVID-19 obviously has been hugely disruptive to a lot of people, including us, but I am really pleased to see that this project has progressed according to plan and to budget,” he said.
Mr Bekier said the pandemic had changed Star’s thinking when it came to the international VIP market, the high rollers who flocked to gambling hubs such as the Chinese city of Macau.
“That high roller market that built Macau is not going to come back,” Mr Bekier said.
“What is going to come back is the affluent, sophisticated traveller who wants to explore the world by themselves.
“They love big hotel rooms. They love experiences and that is growing very quickly and that will absorb all of the slack capacity.
“If you look at Macau, traditionally you had a small number of very, very affluent players driving the business.”
“That is not the business we are building here. We are building a business with a much broader base, with a tourism base, from a wider range of markets.”
The main commercial push will be “four days in Brisbane, plus three days on the Gold Coast,” with the updated Brisbane Airport providing the similar levels of access as Singapore.
Star also owns a casino complex on the Gold Coast.
“The idea is to sell all of south-east Queensland,” Mr Bekier said.
“This is the only integrated resort that is currently being built in the world, so when we open up in 2022 onwards, we will have five years of free air.
“With the new Brisbane airport runway, with the airlines back in business, this is going to be the hottest ticket to go and visit.”
During his visit to Brisbane to visit the Queen’s Wharf site, Mr Bekier released new imagery that gave a taste of the George Street entrance to the complex.
It shows an open-air atrium featuring views across to South Bank from George Street.
Project director Simon Crooks said George Street would be the main entry to the integrated resort.
“Right up on the left will be the event centre and ballroom. In front are steps going up to level four, which is the bridge connection across the river,” he said.
The first 45m long span of the new Neville Bonner Bridge will be lifted over the Riverside Expressway about Easter 2021, Mr Crooks said.
Newly appointed Queensland development minister Steven Miles said Star had re-employed 3500 Queenslanders stood down at the height of the pandemic and almost returned to its pre-COVID revenue levels.
“Nowhere else in the world has tourism, retail and hospitality recovered in the same way as we have been able to here in Queensland,” Mr Miles said.
Star toasts 35 years on the Gold Coast
The Star Gold Coast celebrated a milestone in November, its 35th anniversary since opening on November 23, 1985.
Originally called The Conrad Jupiters Casino and Resort, the establishment was renamed Jupiters Casino in 2010 before changing to The Star Gold Coast in 2017.
During the past three and a half decades, more than eight billion cards have been dealt in the casino, while guests have feasted on more than 24 million oysters in the property’s restaurants.
Thousands of world renowned entertainers have taken to the stage in the casino’s theatre including Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, The Beach Boys, Rihanna and Mariah Carey.
The property recently embarked on a multimillion dollar transformation involving one of the most extensive hotel refurbishments ever undertaken in Australia, the build of a new luxury suite hotel, a new poolside experience and an array of new, contemporary restaurants and bars.
Expansion is also set to continue as part of an approved $2 billion masterplan, including the construction of an additional four towers and associated world-class resort amenities.
The Star Gold Coast gaming operations manager Steve Hennessey was part of the property’s opening team and is one of a small contingent of team members who have been with the property since the beginning.
He says one of the significant changes he has observed in the past 35 years is the advancement of gaming technology.
“Technology has made a huge difference in the way we operate, from simple things like shuffling the cards,” Mr Hennessey said.
“When we first started, we had to shuffle them ourselves and now we have machines that can do it for us.
“When we first opened our doors, both guests and gaming management were able to smoke whilst working on the gaming floor, something you wouldn’t hear about today.
“It’s been great to see the property restrict smoking to certain sections of our premium gaming areas over the year, but even better to see that we’re moving to no indoor smoking completely by 2022.
“I’ve had a wonderful journey so far and I feel really honoured to have enjoyed a wide variety of roles over the year and continue to be a part of The Star’s history and future.”