Rottnest Island hotel expansion approved

A historic hotel on Rott­­­­nest Island once known as the Quokka Arms will undergo a major expansion amidst a development boom at the Western Australian tourism destination.

Approval has been granted for a $40 million project that will see the Rottnest Hotel, located 19 km off the coast of Fremantle at Thomson Bay, almost double in size.

Designed by Western Australian practice Christou Design Group, the extension will include 80 new luxury rooms, two new pools function facilities, a new reception, a spa and a gym.

The hotel will be rebranded as the Hotel Rottnest Resort, with the extension sitting adjacent to the existing building and abutting four cottages.

Designed in the Victorian Tudor style, the existing two-storey rendered limestone building was built from 1858 to 1864 as the governor’s summer residence.

The building is listed on the state heritage list, as is the surrounding site – which is part of the Thompson Bay Settlement. The area is set within the Whadjuk people’s traditional lands and is also listed on the Aboriginal Heritage Sites Register.

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According to the architects, the proposed design respects the cultural significance of the Thompson Bay Settlement, delivering an “appropriately-scaled” building with height and setback in line with the surrounding development.

“Inspired by the existing cottages, the arrival along Bedford Venue and Parker Point Road presents as a series of single storey pavilions set back off the road, amongst the existing trees,” the development application states.

Hotel Rottnest Resort by Christou Design Group.

Hotel Rottnest Resort by Christou Design Group.

Image: Christou Design Group

“The design expresses a contemporary architectural style not to detract from the unique architecture of the former Governor’s Residence.

“The beach front villas respond to the articulation and rhythm of the North Thompson Bay cottages as well as the clusters of units towards South Thompson.”

A heritage impact statement prepared by Stephen Corrick Architects concludes that the development will not adversely affect the cultural significance of the site.

In addition to heritage considerations, the built form of the new extension will also take into account other unique local factors.

Hotel Rottnest Resort by Christou Design Group.

Hotel Rottnest Resort by Christou Design Group.

Image: Christou Design Group

“The site uses the built form to create a secure development and deter interference from local wildlife, namely the quokkas,” the architects state.

Speaking to media on Rottenest Island on Thursday 19 April, WA tourism minister Paul Papalia said the luxury hotel expansion would increase the diversity of accommodation options on the island.

“This space is going to transform the island and allow us to sell Rottnest as a world-class destination,” he said, according to the ABC.

“This doesn’t take any accommodation away from the affordable end of the spectrum. It will add to the other end.”

The approval comes as works begin for another major tourism development, a “glamping” destination known as Pinky’s Eco Retreat, designed by Lyons Architecture.

Papalia announced on Thursday that the nearby Rottnest Lodge, operated by Karma Group, will also be expanded to include a day spa. Part of the lodge is Rottnest Quod, a former Aboriginal prison where an estimated 369 Indigenous people died. It is currently used as holiday accommodation.

The state government will resume control of the Quod in May, and the building will likely take on a new use following consultations with Indigenous groups.

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