Expanding Parkhurst venue attracts international guests
A MINIATURE 'city' of luxury is popping up on the outskirts of Rockhampton, and it's catching the eye of international tourists.
For the past year, Rockhampton man Gabriele Demedio and his family have been turning an 84,100sq m block of bushland at 1016 Yaamba Rd, Parkhurst into a private paradise by the name of Casa Nostra Motel.
With Stage One of the project consisting of 12 self-contained one and two-bedroom villas as well as a pool and barbecue area catering for up to 50 people completed about a year ago, Mr Demedio has continued to build his Parkhurst empire and will open Stage Two of the development this Friday.
Mr Demedio said Stage Two will include six motel units, a restaurant, office and manager's residence - and he's not stopping there.
"I hope to build a heap more (accommodation options) at the back over the next year or so. We have over 20 acres there at the back so there is enough there to do a whole little city," Mr Demedio said.
"When I first came out here to Parkhurst we were the only thing out here and now it looks like it's all happening on this side.
"We have housing developments around us and the shopping centre up the road. They are about to put dual lanes through the front so we will have four lanes going past.
"I'm excited for the area, I think this side of town is the place to be."
Mr Demedio, who has been in the motel industry for over 35 years, said he drew inspiration for the sprawling villa complex from a winery in southern Australia.
"I came to Rockhampton about 20 years ago and I still own the True Blue Motel next door to here. We have leased that out. I built the restaurant there plus another building at the back, we have 31 rooms there," Mr Demedio said.
"We also built a motel in Toowoomba and have one in Mackay so we have been in motels for over 35 years.
"I got the idea for this project from South Australia, at one of the wineries down there. A few years ago I was down there and they had the same sort of thing so I sort of pinched the idea off them."
So far, Mr Demedio says the Casa Nostra has been a huge success, so much so it recently won Australia's Best Independent Rated Accommodation Voted by Australian Travellers for the second year in a row, to earn a place on the 2017 Gold List of Australian Accommodation.
"For the first 12 months we have been at about 80% occupancy which is pretty good in motel terms," he said.
"I think the two-bedroom villas are the most successful because they attract more longer-term people and large families. We have been more or less booked out with them since we opened.
"At the moment we have a few long-term visitors. We have one guy that has been here for about eight months and a few people that work at the jail so they spend four days a week here before going home on Fridays.
"We have been experiencing quite a few people visiting from overseas; China and Germany and places like that. Tourism is definitely alive in the area. They love seeing the wild kangaroos at the motel in the mornings."
With Stage Two nearing completion, Mr Demedio is expecting visitor numbers to increase even more.
"Now that we have an office out the front and it doesn't look like a construction site we will attract even more guests," he said.
"90% of our bookings come from our webpage and that has been good because we get hardly any off the street, people think we are still under construction.
"We probably won't open the restaurant for another three or four weeks. It's mainly for the guests but if someone wants to come in from outside they are welcome. We have the liquor licence signed off so we can start selling a few stubbies soon.
"We hope to have a full a la carte menu but will have to wait and see what the chef comes up with."