SORRENTO’S historic hotel the Continental is on the market for the first time in almost 20 years.
The Di Pietro family, who bought the hotel on Ocean Beach Rd in 1996, is hoping for $15 million.
The hotel, known far and wide as the Conti, was built in 1875 by the “Father of Sorrento” George Coppin, and is the only four-storey limestone structure in the southern hemisphere.
It has had just eight owners in 140 years.
The Conti is on 3580 square metres and is being offered by Sothebys International in conjunction with CBRE.
It cost £14,000 to build and was sold by Coppin in 1890 to Isaac Edward Bensilum for £6000. Other owners or licensees have included T E Hawkins (1913-21), L Fitzgerald (1921-23), L De Vine (1923-53) and N and G Fernhead (1953-60).
George Selth Coppin (1819-1906) led an itinerant life, following his father’s footsteps into the theatre. Leaving England for a new life in 1842, the Coppins landed in Sydney, beginning a long sequence of entrepreneurial schemes: making money, losing it and starting again.
Coppin lived and worked in Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong and Sorrento where in the 1870s he saw potential for development.
He brought businessmen from Melbourne in a paddlesteamer, later building the Continental, encouraging holidaymakers to the southern end of Port Phillip in his own paddlesteamers. He lost serious money building a private tramway at Sorrento but is credited with creating the town as a premier holiday resort.
In April 1905, Coppin celebrated his 88th birthday at his Sorrento home Anchorage, but following illness returned to Richmond where he died the following year.