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11 December, 2020

Chinese developer reveals big plans for Cairns

Syrian millionaire Ghassan Abound is not the only developer in town making big plans for the return of tourists to the Far North.

By Phil Brandel

Exclusive interview with Benny Wu

CHINESE born developer Mr Benny Wu, also has big plans for Far North Queensland. In the past few years Mr Wu has bought Double Island, the old Mad Cow/Casbah/Jungle Bar building, Acacia Court on the Esplanade and Whitfield House near the botanical gardens.

He has also bought the De Brueys Boutique Winery in Mareeba where Mr Wu is in the middle of building a new resort that was designed by CA Architects in Cairns. The resort is his current priority and when finished will consist of 27 blocks of four cabins/rooms, totalling 108 rooms, as well as a dining room/restaurant and water park.

After the Mareeba resort Mr Wu plans on renovating the old Mad Cow/Jungle Bar as well the units behind it on Lake Street. Plans include turning the main building into a backpacker’s with pod style bedding and an Asian quarter with restaurants from all over Asia behind it.

Over the past few years Mr Wu had slowly been building up his portfolio with big plans for all of his investments and then COVID hit, which has slowed down his plans.

Mr Wu bought Double Island for a reported 8 million dollars back in 2012 and at the time he said he intended to target “the very top end of the market” and fly in “very rich” holidaymakers and businessmen from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

“We wanted to create an exclusive private club and encourage corporations to hold meetings on the island, now thanks to COVID that has all changed,” he said.

Speaking exclusively to Cairns Local News Mr Wu said that he still has big plans for Double Island.

“We now have plans on opening the island up to glamping and also building a function centre on the top of the highest peak on the island.”

Mr Wu claims he had a deal with the government that for every dollar he spent on redeveloping the island the government would match 50 per cent for everything he spent, capped at $5 million per island something he said the government has now reneged on.

“We applied to the Great Barrier Reef Island Resort Rejuvenation Program, when we asked the QLD tourism officer, the reason the funds for the rejuvenation program were not allocated in the budget, we received no reply,” he said.

“A lot of money was spent on planning about 2 years ago and then the government changed their mind.

“When we took over the island everything was broken or run-down including the sewerage, electrical and water.

“Nothing was compliant on the island, we can’t get insurance on buildings that are not compliant, there was a lot of leftover problems from previous owners.

“Over the past few years we have just been patching things up.”

As for Acacia Court on The Esplanade and the house beside it, Mr Wu plans on renovating the site and turning the top levels of the hotel into a retirement village. 

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