Brussels-based Syrian businessman Ghassan Aboud has bought a north Queensland retreat, Crystal¬brook Lodge, as well as a 34,000ha cattle station, as he ¬expands his tourism portfolio further into the state’s rural areas.

The billionaire, who made his fortune from the auto industry in the Middle East, is also developing three $100 million luxury hotels in Cairns, including a redevelopment of the Bellview Motel and Backpackers Lodge, which he bought last week for about $12m.
Crystalbook Lodge and Crystalbrook Station were acquired from Port Douglas businessman John Morris and represent a natural extension of Mr Aboud’s plans to build a hospitality portfolio in the far north.

The Crystalbrook Lodge, about 220km west of Cairns, features five suites and charges $1800 per room per night, all inclusive.
The lake in the centre of the property is stocked with about 4000 barramundi. Apart from two homesteads, Crystalbrook Station has 2000 brangus cattle, a cross between angus and brahmans, a 1000m airstrip, a four-bedroom workers’ quarters and 50 dams.

Mr Morris, who is credited with establishing Port Douglas as a tourist destination, bought Crystalbrook Station for $2.2m in 2012 at a 25 per cent discount to the station’s 2009 valuation. He added five suites to the station, with plans to helicopter tourists in to fish in the lake.
Sources said Mr Aboud paid more than $3m for the resort and cattle property.

Mr Aboud would not comment on the purchase price of the Crystalbrook property but said he had initially committed millions of dollars to establish a live cattle ¬export business. “This year I will invest $25m and I will see how I will go,” he said.

Mr Aboud is also looking to ¬enhance his Australian holdings with the purchase of a hotel site in Sydney.
“We are talking about a fourth site in Sydney, to develop a five-star hotel of more than 250 rooms which would be managed under the Crystal Group Collection,” Mr Aboud told The Australian.
“We are also looking for a hotel or five-star resort in Melbourne.”

The Crystalbrook selling agent was Ruralco’s Peter MacPherson.
Apart from the Bellview Motel and Backpackers development, Mr Aboud is also adding 70 rooms to the Rydges Tradewinds hotel, bringing it up to 320 rooms in another $100m development.
Across the road from the Bellview Motel on a site in Aplin Street and Abbott Street he is planning a two-tower apartment and hotel project of about four stars on a 4000sq m site.


Original Article: The Australian