The iconic Q Station – formerly Quarantine Station – at North Head in Manly has sold to Northern Beaches hotelier Glenn Piper for somewhere shy of $20 million. But what does this mean for the site, and how much will it change?
Let’s first address the big concerns – no the land itself has not sold, it is public land, it is the lease hold and operations on the site that has sold until 2050. The site and many of its buildings are heritage listed, plus there are several environmental protections – there’s little to no chance this site will fall victim to overdevelopment.
After the deal was announced, we spoke with Glenn, who lives in Curl Curl with his wife and three kids and is part owner of the newly refurbed Harbord Hotel, about his plans.
“It’s important for the community to know that the process of preservation and conservation is continued and strengthened when we take over,” he begins.
“Any work will be only enhancing what is already on the site, there will not be new buildings, it is all heritage protected and there are various environmental protections too.”
“It already has its own well-established food, recreation and tourism offerings on the site. We just want to build on the great work already been done by Mawland and National Parks.”
So what do these enhancements look out?
Frankly he’s not yet sure. Glenn knows the accommodation could do with a decent revamp on the inside, and there’s huge potential to build on the event spaces, like weddings.
“I want this to be a local destination but also a place for interstate and international travellers; it’s an iconic destination and we want to give people an experience that is responsive to that. It has the potential to be the best destination Australian has to offer.”
We asked some of the pointier questions our readers had, and received frank answers.
Does he know about the penguin colony and breeding areas that need to be protected? Yes, and he will respect that.
Will the beach remain open to the public? “yes, it’s secluded but not privately owned. It’s just most convenient for guests to go there”.
The ghost tours? Likely to remain, though he’s yet to try one and suss it out.
But also, at this stage, it’s just too early to say how the 105-room hotel will be transformed.
“I always look for the told and untold stories of a venue to help me develop the concepts. I still need to take the time to explore these stories and really get to know the site before I announce any ideas.”
Asked how he felt taking over a tourism business during a pandemic, Glenn laughed. Not a “ha ha” laugh; something else.
“The pandemic started six weeks after settlements at Harbord hotel, here’s hoping it will just be ending when we settle on this one.”
That settlement will take place in February, and the takeover still needs to get the nod from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The current site owners, Mawland, said the site was ready for some fresh inspiration.
Mawland Directors Suzanne Stanton and Max Player, who commenced operating Q Station in 2008 under a lease from the NPWS said the site was “ready for a new layer of history”. “We are excited to see value added to the property and operation under the care of its new leaseholder, with a continued focus on complying with the needs of the local community, which over the years has taken Q Station to its heart.”
The leasehold sale was negotiated by Tom Gibson and Vasso Zographou of CBRE Hotels, together with Andrew Jackson and Nic Simarro of HTL Property.
The campaign extracted significant domestic and international interest with 13 bids and over 250 enquires.
“There’s no doubt the nature of the offering with a hospitality and tourism focus appealed to all investor types. Given the timing of the offering through NSW’s harshest lockdowns, it was incredible to see the level of confidence from the market,” Mr Jackson said.