In an exclusive interview with Castaways Resort owner, Gavin Shine, the Post Newspaper can now reveal one of the best kept secrets in the community.
Castaways, situated on the clifftops of Karioitahi Beach, has just been granted a resource consent to expand into a 560 bed Resort.
The 560 beds will be made up of 100 existing beds, 60 existing consented Glam Camping beds and a further 400 beds as part of the expansion consent.
The local economy will also benefit greatly from the expansion, as new employment opportunities are set to increase as the new facilities become operational.
With currently 65 full and part time staff employed, the number is set to increase to 200 as the resort expands.
Included in the expansion are 100 two bedroom chalets that will be added to the resort, as well as a conference centre, wedding and restaurant venues which will cater for up to 500 guests. A new pool and gym will also be added and a cultural display and performance centre is part of the plan.
For husband and wife team, Gavin and Raewyn, this is the final piece in the jigsaw.
“From day one, Castaways has been a hands on project for us and having the consent granted, it feels like the final bit of the jigsaw can now be put in place,” says Gavin. “The consenting process has been an 18 month project and has been, mainly, a very positive experience.”
The original concept of a restaurant on the cliffs was begun by Malcolm Doncaster who took five years of planning and working with Franklin District Council to even get permission to build on the site where Agave is at the moment. Malcolm opened the original restaurant as KPs in the 1990s and then sold it to Gavin who has taken the vision to what it is now.
What began as a small restaurant on the clifftops in 2002 has now grown into an ocean front destination not just for the accommodation facilities, but for weddings and conferences as well as massage and beauty treatments, glam camping and adventure activities.
Castaways has become a family affair, with Gavin and Raewyn’s daughter, Serena recently joining the team to manage and grow the glam camping accommodation.
“Serena and I have built the new glam camping facility due to open soon and it is quite rewarding to build the infrastructure yourself. It is why we do it at the end of the day.”
The planned resort is designed for a minimal impact on the environment. The immediate area will benefit from the planned extensive planting and the chalets are well spaced out, with access by electric buggy only.
The existing resort is currently in the busy season, with many conferences being held, and over 80 weddings booked this summer.
“Every aspect of Castaways is growing, including our restaurant, Adventure Activities and the Bersantai Day Spa. Glam Camping has become incredibly popularly, and a new Glam Camping facility will be opened over the next few months,” says Gavin.
Minister of Tourism, Hon Paula Bennett, says the expansion ‘is certainly an exciting announcement for Franklin and for our wider tourism sector.’
“I welcome any new development that brings extra capacity to the tourism sector to host visitors from other parts of New Zealand and offshore. It’s pleasing to see private enterprise meeting the needs of our growing tourism numbers,” she says.
“Franklin sits in the Auckland Region tourism stats which saw monthly tourism expenditure of $658 million in November 2016, growth of nine per cent over the year, so it has very promising potential for further growth. All of this is great news for local businesses and jobs.”
Gavin says that there are a few people who he would like to recognise that have help make the expansion consent possible.
“I would like to thank Vance Hodgson and Monique Kimber from Hodgson Planning for their expertise in guiding us through this process. A thank you is also needed to Dodd civil for their engineering input. The planning and engineering departments of Waikato District Council where both efficient and practical, and great to deal with. I thank them for their professionalism.”
“Roimata Minhinnick, CEO of Ngati Te Ata has been both positive and proactive toward this project and I am looking forward to working with him in the future.”
The future is looking very exciting. Castaways has grown from a café into a well respected resort. It is now poised to become one of the main players in the New Zealand Tourism market. There is a lot to do before construction can start, but we will continue chipping away until there is a world class resort on the hill.”