Cliff top resort aims to climb higher

5:00 AM Saturday October 3, 2015 Colin Taylor

The Castaways Resort on the cliff top overlooking Karioitahi Beach near the township of Waiuku.

An equity partner is being sought to invest up to $5 million in the fast expanding Castaways Resort situated high on the cliff tops overlooking Karioitahi Beach near the township of Waiuku to the south of Auckland.

“This resort has simply stunning ocean front views just 50 minutes from central Auckland,” says Michael Osborne of LINK Business Broking who, with colleague Nick Giles, is assisting Castaways’ owner Gavin Shine in the search for a business partner.

The resort encompasses 15 two-bedroom chalets, 10 one-bedroom studios, an award-winning restaurant, a 140 seat wedding and conference facility, 45 seat and 20 seat meeting rooms, an “adventure” centre and a luxury Indonesian-inspired spa “which can rival the best that Auckland can offer”.

Osborne says, while the development of Castaways Resort project has been a business success to date, Shine wants to take it even further. “Gavin wants an equity partner to be part of Castaways’ success story and to assist him with the next phase of the project to create a truly international destination.

“He is seeking expressions of interest from investors or experienced hospitality operators interested in helping him achieve his vision of cementing Castaways as a top international conference and wedding centre for New Zealand.”

Osborne says Castaways is perfectly located to realise this goal being just 45 minutes from Auckland Airport and with around 40 per cent of New Zealand’s population under two hours away.

“Auckland, and the whole of New Zealand for that matter, lacks high quality venues to cater for the growth in population in relation to providing for the conferences, weddings and leisure markets.”

Shine purchased Castaways in 2002 and set about transforming the property and its facilities. “Every year since its purchase Gavin has reinvested all the profits back into its ongoing growth and development,” says Osborne.

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Table set for lunch within Castaways Resorts and overlooking Karioitahi Beach. 

An original ‘cafe’ was pulled down to make way for what is now the conference centre. Late that year construction was started on the first of the chalets and the business officially opened in December 2003.

“Business took off rapidly with conference and wedding guest numbers averaging over 12,000 per year over the next few years,” Osborne says.

“Since inception, Castaways has played host to hundreds of weddings and has provided conference facilities for many of the country’s top companies as well as major international organisations like Microsoft, Telecom [now Spark] and Coca Cola. As more chalets were built the accommodation guest numbers increased to match.”

The Agave restaurant was added to the side of the conference centre overlooking the beach and was opened in January 2007 – going on to win NZ Beef and Lamb excellence awards.

In 2009 Shine purchased 56 hectares of farmland behind the original resort in preparation for future expansion plans to cope with demand. An Adventure Centre was constructed to enable guests to participate in archery, four wheel drive tours, clay pigeon shooting, “blow kart” land yachting and kayaking lessons.

The Bersantai Day Spa was opened in April 2012 along with an adjoining Tasman Conference Room. An outdoor bath and massage area was added to the spa later that year. Shine says the Day Spa is a major attraction for the resort and has been rated among the best in Auckland. “It attracts strong repeat business,” he says. “The spa sits atop one of the highest points at the resort and treats guests to therapeutic treatments that relax the mind and body in a tranquil Indonesian-inspired setting.”

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The Bersantai Day Spa at Castaways Resorts attracts a lot of repeat business. 

Also during 2012 Gavin put his concept of ‘Glam Camping’ in to effect and trialled his first tent the following year.

“The response has been tremendous,” Giles says. “He has since added another three tents dotted around the impressive resort. This is camping but not in the traditional sense. Each tent contains all the indulgences of a luxury resort while offering visitors a very different experience – being ‘at one with nature’ and doing something very Kiwi.”

Starting from $430 per night, the Glam Camping journey begins with a buggy ride to a remote site high on the cliff tops overlooking the Tasman Sea.  

“Guests watch sunsets over the ocean, dine on gourmet food, relax in a sunken outdoor bath and retire to deluxe king beds,” Giles says.

“At present Castaways has under construction a 48 bed glam camping full conference facility with conference room, lounge and dining areas all under canvas. It has an outdoor bar and kitchen and is nestled in a remote gully with ocean views. Many companies are looking for different, quality conference and seminar venues, and experiences this one will be complete and ready to market by May next year.”

Giles says the resort enjoys sound and steadily growing annual revenues. “It is now time for someone else to invest in the next major chapter of the impressive Castaways’ story.

“This equity partnership offers represents an  exciting opportunity for someone to join him in his vision and share in his passion of making Castaways the foremost conference and accommodation resort in New Zealand.”