ABC News South West WA

The world-renowned tourist region of Margaret River, in Western Australia, is set to house its first five-star hotel with a 120-guest resort to open in 2023.

Key points:

  • The development will include 45 luxury suites and 400 square metres of event space
  • A local resident’s group is worried the already-eroded coastline will be impacted by a sudden influx of tourists
  • Developers are hoping to start building on the site before the end of the year

The beachfront site in the small south-west costal town of Gnarabup has been slated for tourism development for more than a decade.

The proposed resort still requires final planning approvals, but it aims to include 45 luxury suites and 400 square metres of events space.

“It is a great opportunity for our state and a demonstration of confidence in our tourism industry and also our economy through a very difficult period,” he said.

Tourism Minister, Paul Papalia, said Margaret River played a key role in attracting tourists from across the world.
“Before the COVID crisis we had seen two years running of record levels of outer-state visitor numbers,” he said.
“More tourists came to Western Australia from interstate and overseas than ever before in history and Margaret River was absolutely essential in attracting those visitors.”

Locals concerned about erosion

Previous development proposals in the Gnarabup area have faced opposition, with some residents concerned developing the area would impact the local environment.

President of the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, Ian Earl, said while he did expect some opposition to this proposal, he believed the area will be able to handle an influx of tourists.

“It’s obviously very busy down there, but there’s plenty to do down there, there’s plenty of places for people to go,” Councillor Earl said.

“You can move away from just the beach here, up to Cowaramup and other places around the region, so I’m sure it will cope pretty well.”

But some residents are concerned the development could add even more pressure to local beach and surrounding amenities.

President of the Margaret River Costal Residents Association, Adrian Wilson, said the local beach is already being impacted by costal erosion.

A man looking out at the beach with a jetty in the background.

Margaret River resident Adrian Wilson says coastal erosion is a big problem at Gnarabup beach.
(ABC South West: Anthony Pancia)

“The beach in Gnarabup is extremely unstable, it’s down to about one entrance to the beach,” he said.

“The beach path is under threat and dunes that were given a life of about 10 to 15 years only a few years ago are immediately under threat.

“The level of pressure on that beach is already extremely high.”

Westin Perth will develop the site and general manager, Peter Brampton, said the current plans had taken the local environment into account.
“It’s a low rise in keeping with the surroundings and being environmentally focused,” he said.
“It’s two-storey high in parts.”
The developers hope to start construction before the end of the year.