Works begin to bring Conti back to life


AN artist’s impression of what the new look Continental Hotel, Sorrento will look like once completed.

THE on-again, off-again saga that is the redevelopment of Sorrento’s Continental Hotel is, well, on again.

The latest consortium behind a proposed $100 million rebuild has unveiled its vision and restarted construction at the iconic site which it says should open in time for summer 2021-22.

The emergence of the new backers follows disappointment over the drawn-out and ultimately failed dream of Sorrento local Julian Gerner, who bowed out amid fears the heritage-listed limestone structure could “sink into its foundations” (“Hotel ‘clean’ and up for sale, again” The News 16/3/20).

Consortium partners Victor Smorgon Group, Kanat Group and Trenerry Property have engaged Urban as project managers and Hamilton Marino as the builder, with Woods Bagot as principal architects and interior designers.

Coincidentally, Woods Bagot CEO Nik Karalis is said to divide his time between New York City and his other home at St Andrews.

The latest plan shows a “regional resort venue” with wellness and lifestyle centre, five-star hotel, various food and beverage areas, and spaces for events. The wellness areas will include a hydro spa, gym and day spa with pools, saunas and medi-spa treatment areas.

The 100-room hotel extending to Riley Lane and the three event spaces will include a ballroom, public bar and bistro, restaurant, glass-ceiling conservatory and cocktail bars.

A new, larger crane will replace the existing crane to start phase 1 of construction beginning with reconstruction of the southern and western walls of the ballroom and a reinforced basement. Remediation works will be done in consultation with Heritage Victoria.

Works are expected to ramp up once stage four coronavirus construction restrictions are lifted, the builder says, adding that they have been “working closely with Mornington Peninsula Shire on the necessary certificates required for the preservation works completed to date”.

Heritage Victoria has overseen waterproofing, sealing and structural reinforcements and regular inspections have “assessed and mitigated degradation” of the 145-year-old building.

Trenerry’s Robert Dicintio said the development was a “long-term proposition”.

“We are committed not only to its successful redevelopment but its long-term success and viability as a significant economic driver for the peninsula,” he said.

“Our vision is to see the hotel revitalised and returned to its former glory – as a place where the community can come together and celebrate the best local produce, service, hospitality and experiences.

“The Continental has been around for almost 150 years, and it will still be standing long after we have gone. We are simply the current restorers and protectors of this grand building and we want to do it justice and bring it back to life for the enjoyment of all our current and future stakeholders.”

The redevelopment is expected to generate 150 jobs on-site, and 70 off-site. When completed it is expected to provide 100 full time equivalent, ongoing jobs across hospitality, hotel management, service and administration.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 8 September 2020


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