A Chinese developer has been slapped with a warning notice after allowing a once pristine Great Barrier Reef island he purchased to fall into disrepair.
Millionaire Benny Hu and his business Wu’s Fortune Island Holding Company holds the lease to Double Island – just off Queensland‘s coast and around 20 minutes from Cairns – until 2099.
The deal was struck in 2012 for $8million with the understanding the island would continue to be maintained as tourist destination.
But concerned officials from the Queensland government and Cairns Regional Council are gearing up to take action against the businessman after their two inspections of the island in 2017 and 2019 found the condition of the pristine land had deteriorated and the resort was largely abandoned.
Double Island Resort has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair (pictured) prompting a warning for the lease holder from the government
The island (pictured) was once a tourist hotspot located between Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
A further compliance warning notice was issued this month, Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart confirmed, The Cairns Post reported.
‘The department issued a warning notice to the lease holder requiring them to adhere to the conditions of their lease which includes reopening the facilities on the island,’ Mr Stewart said.
He said Double Island Resort was one of a number of Great Barrier Reef Islands audited in the past two years regarding compliance with lease conditions.
Along with the resort being re-opened, the lease requires vegetation to be managed, facilities on the island to be kept in good repair, and mooring facilities provided in good condition for the general public’s use.
Assistant Tourism Minister and Cairns MP, Michael Healy, said that residents in the region were entitled to the island and resort being maintained as a tourist drawcard.
‘The leaseholder of Double Island Resort was to work on reopening the facilities on the island… This is a fair and reasonable expectation from the people of Cairns.’
A spokesperson for Mr Wu said improvement work on the island was being done but it would remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future.
‘Due to the impact of the pandemic, the improvement plan has encountered obstacles (including) shortage of manpower and the supply of goods… we are aiming to complete the improvement plan then make a further plan according to the market’ the spokeswoman, from the Double Island head office, said.
Luxurious glamping tents were once a feature but are now derelict (pictured)
Mr Wu has a number of investments in North Queensland including De Brueys Boutique Wines at Mareeba and Acacia Court Hotel on the Cairns Esplanade, which was earmarked for a redevelopment but has not gone ahead.
When the deal for Double Island was struck in 2012, Mr Wu said he planned to spend $10million upgrading the resort to cater to the ‘top end of the market’ in wealthy Chinese holidaymakers and businessmen.
In its heyday, the island was a luxury destination featuring Polynesian inspired villas, eco-tourism glamping tents, and luxury apartments.
Hollywood A-lister Keanu Reeves leased the island back in 2001 when he was in Australia filming The Matrix and had a gym built especially for him.
Friends star Jennifer Aniston and her then husband Brad Pitt were his guests when the actor threw a lavish and infamous New Year’s Eve party there.
The bash reportedly cost $200,000 (US$150,000) and was also attended by a host of famous faces including Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore and Kiefer Sutherland.
The celebrity party featured a huge firework display on New Year’s Eve which shocked locals, who had no idea the island was packed with Hollywood stars.
But now the resort, which is said to feature 24 luxury bungalows, and facilities for up to 40 guests, is in disrepair.
Double Island Resort in its heyday was a popular holiday spot in Far North Queensland (pictured)
A visitor to the island who had paddled there on a kayak with a friend previously told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Staying there would be more like a “Survivor” challenge than a luxury getaway.’
Safari-style tents intended for eco-friendly ‘glamping’ stays are covered in mould and moss, while detritus including fuel containers, washing paraphernalia, dirty towels and abandoned tools litter the area.
Visitors to the island are warned not to intrude on the land beyond where the tide reaches and told cameras are in use.
But it is still possible to see one apparently abandoned home where rainforest plants are beginning to encroach into its once-pristine garden; its plunge pool is drained of water and a bedroom balcony is unfit dished without a guard rail.
A gym lies abandoned and apparently unused but appears to be in good condition, even though the equipment appears to be dated.
Outdoor dining areas, meant to be where guests enjoy a ‘sublime culinary experience’, are strewn with a mishmash of old furniture.
In contrast, a Cairns mansion Mr Wu bought in 2020 is stunningly luxurious.
Mr Wu bought a Cairns property (pictured above) for $5.95 million after the mansion spent nearly 12 years on and off the market since 2008
Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio’s work inspired the home, which features five-metre-high ceilings, 1441sqm of living space, four ensuite bedrooms and views over the city.
‘The home itself was built by the current seller and has been their residential home since construction,’ Colliers International Cairns executive Jay Beattie explained.
‘The house took two to three years to build from original concept to completion and it is one of the largest under-roof homes in Cairns and the style of it is very unique.’
It had been in the Knott family, who the street is named after, since the 7000sqm block of land was purchased for $190,000 in 1997.
The home features a grand porte cochere entrance which expands into and entrance hall, a private bar and terrace overlooking the rainforest and rear lawn.
The palatial Italian-style mansion (pictured above) in Cairns, far north Queensland, was sold to the Hong Kong businessman in 2012
The six-bedroom and seven-bathroom home boasts approximately 1441 square metres of living space (kitchen pictured)
It also boasts a gymnasium with a private terrace, two timber panelled offices, a wine cellar, an eight-car underground garage, workshop and a blue mosaic 17m pool.
A completely self-contained guest apartment downstairs provides a further two ensuite bedrooms, private living and dining, private balcony and courtyard.
The mansion also features formal dining areas and multiple terraces, as well as casual and formal lounges all with breathtaking views of the city.
Mr Wu was involved in mining and is the chairman of the private Hong Kong import and export Chang Yuang Group before he expanded into property.
Patrice Knott purchased the massive 7000sqm block of land for just $190,000 in 1997 before building the home (pictured)
It has an uninterrupted view of the Cairns CBD (pictured above) from multiple terraces and the 17m blue mosaic pool