The Early Days
The birth of Hamilton Island as a tropical island resort came in the early 1980s. Keith Williams originally owned and operated Hamilton Island between 1975 and 1996, when he gained government approval to commence the development of the Hamilton Island marina, followed by construction of the resort in 1982.
However, his plans ran into financial trouble and, in late 2003, 21st Century Resorts Holdings, a company controlled by the Oatley family, won the bid to acquire 100 percent of the shares in Hamilton Island, which was by then a publicly-listed company.
The late Bob Oatley, renowned Australian winemaker and patriarch of the Oatley family, sailed past Hamilton Island as a young man and immediately saw the potential of the location. Upon the purchase, the Oatley family reinvented and rejuvenated the Island, guided by Bob's vision and leadership.
Bob Oatley set out to make the Hamilton Island a destination he could be proud of, and one that anyone of any income could enjoy - a legacy that Sandy and the Oatley family uphold today.
Running the Island is most definitely a family affair with Sandy Oatley, Chairman of the Island's Board, at the helm of the resort's development.
One of Sandy's two daughters, Nicky Oatley, is brand manager and Ros Oatley's son Robert Oatley is in the investment team. With two third-generation members of the family involved in the business, consistency in the delivery of the long-term vision for the Island is ensured.
In a decade of ownership and following an extensive investment and development program, the Oatley family has spent more than $450 million on improvements to the Island, including the build of luxury resort, qualia, which has won more than 51 awards over the past eight years.
While other Whitsunday islands have struggled, Hamilton Island has bucked the trend by turning a comfortable profit year-on-year and the Oatley family's continued capital investment in the Island is assured.
The owners currently inject more than $16 million a year into operating the Island, investing in accommodation, infrastructure and services. While installation of a 10MW, 22km power cable to the Island cost more than $15 million, the Oatley family also invested $30 million to upgrade the Island's powerhouse, which houses six diesel generators - producing 9MW. In addition, a $1.8 million pipeline was installed between Hamilton Island and Dent Island to supply power, water and utilities to the Golf Club.
Investments include ensuring that waste is disposed of in the most environmentally friendly manner - and is re-used wherever possible - as well as making sure power sources are utilised in the most efficient way.
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