After more than 10 years with boarded-up windows and doors, the Hotel Australasia will hold it’s grand reopening on Saturday (December 17).
The Eden hotel, that was nicknamed “the pit” more than a decade ago, and is commonly known to locals as the “Grand Old Lady”, is 119 years old.
The hotel has been restored to it’s former glory, initially by South Coast Builder, Neil Rankin, who purchased the building in 2020 from Bega Valley Shire Council for just $150,000.
Rankin restored the original facade of the building before selling the hotel to Core Asset Development (CAD) for $1.6 million around 18 months ago. CAD reportedly spent approximately $3.5 million on top of that for the expansion and renovation.
Mark Toma, a director at CAD, along with his company is hoping the big investment pays off.
“We are excited to be re-opening this Sapphire Coast icon and provide the region with a much-needed shot in the arm, generating jobs and tourism growth,” Mr Toma said.
The project has brought jobs to the region with around 15 trades-people (some local) working on the renovations plus additional contractors as well as a team of 45 staff that will work at the hotel in Eden.
Marketing and Operations Manager at CAD, Hanna Marshall said the team were thrilled to be finally opening the doors.
“It’s been a huge undertaking since CAD purchased the hotel, to get it to where it is today,” Ms Marshall said.
“When we walked in 18 months ago there were still still dirt floors and a lot of work needed to go on out the back,” she said.
“We’re been really lucky with the response we’ve received so far with filling local job vacancies at the hotel, however we do have a few positions to fill, so if anyone around Eden is looking for employment, come in and say hello.”
The heritage building will be holding a re-opening ceremony from 5pm on Saturday (December 17) with a Welcome to Country and Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland officially re-opening the hotel at the ribbon-cutting ceremony before the doors are throws open to the public from 5:30pm.
“It’s exciting and it’s an area of great potential from a tourism point of view,” Dr Holland said.
“Eden will be the gateway for people to enter and explore our region,” he continued.
Although CAD are hoping for a big turn out at the grand re-opening event, they currently have maximum capacity of around 200 at the Australasia and Ms Marshall would like to remind the community to be patient.
“We’ve got some amazing feedback and we are expecting quite a crowd, so if you are going to come down, just please be patient as we are just opening and we’ve got all new staff,” Ms Marshall said.
“Come down but also just be a little bit understanding that it is our opening night and we are expecting some large numbers.”
The hotel’s heritage bar, now called “The John Hines Bar”, has been fully renovated and expanded to cater for small and large groups, while the building also features a new distillery producing vodka and gin.
Another key amenity is an intimate lounge room, called “Judy’s Lounge”, where high teas are served for intimate gatherings, while “Pikes Bistro” will serve up tasty dishes.
The heritage hotel has recently appointed Luke Wakefield as head chef. Mr Wakefield has 20 years of award-winning experience as a chef.
The Australasia also now features eight rooms for couples and families, providing a base in the heart of Eden from which they can explore the beautiful Sapphire Coast.
The hotel will be taking accommodation bookings via their new website from 20 December 2022.
Images: James Fennessy – East Coast Radio, Hanna Marshall, Core Asset Development, Australian National University Archives, Neil Rankin