Hotel Magazine sat down with Castaways Resort, situated on the spectacular coastal cliff tops of Karioitahi Beach, Auckland, to see how the destination is combining camping, cuisine and conferences on the coast, with plans to further expand and development opportunities on offer.

Since late 2002, Castaways Resort has developed from a small café on the cliffs overlooking Karioitahi Beach, 6km west of Waiuku and in the most south western corner of Auckland City into one of Auckland’s most popular destinations. The brainchild of owners and husband-and-wife team Gavin and Raewyn Shine, Castaways Resort started out as a paddock. Raewyn came up with the name, and Gavin, previously an engineer, designed and built it. Castaways Resort is now an 88 bed resort with onsite Agave Restaurant, wedding venue, multiple conference venues, a unique Indonesian inspired day spa, adventure activities, and glam camping luxury tents. Under construction is a 48 bed glam camping village targeting the domestic and international conference and incentive market. Castaways Resort has developed a range of adventures, including clay bird shooting, archery, 4WD, blow carting and pistol shooting. Under development now is frisbee golf, axe tossing and knife throwing.

The resort is within an hours’ drive of downtown Auckland and Auckland International Airport positioning it well to take advantage of New Zealand’s main population base as well as international visitors. Castaways Resort has eight distinct income streams; weddings, conferences and incentives, restaurant, accommodation, day spa, glam camping, adventures, and development. Guests can also book a range of packages. “Our accommodation guests are roughly one third wedding, one third conferences and one third leisure,” Gavin said.

There are currently 60-70 full time and part time staff. The resource consent process is underway for the expansion of Castaways Resort into a 530 bed resort complex. Investors are currently being sought to be involved in the expansion. The initial development of the resort started with construction of the first chalets in late 2002.  “An important strategy to ensure success was to develop the business at the same time as the infrastructure.”

The studio units and chalets are managed through a system that gives owners flexibility to holiday throughout the year, as well as gaining income from the steady stream of weddings, conferences and weekend getaway guests. Owners purchase the studio unit and underlying lease, and can holiday for up to 12 weeks per year.

“With the new development we intend to use a similar concept as it has been very successful in releasing capital to fund development.”

Gavin wanted the chalets to have a unique design as the site is so unique. This is obvious in the distinctive roofs that complement the landscape. “A simple design is always the best so the hang gliders that frequent the skies above the chalets were used as inspiration for the roof design.”

In October 2014, Glam Camping at Castaways Resort began. Gavin developed the concept then designed and built the tents over eight months. Glam Camping has proved hugely popular. What started out as one tent has now become four, with plans to expand into a glam camping village. In its first year the original tent saw 100 stays on its own. “The second year we targeted 100 stays for each of the four, and we’ve just surpassed that.”

The tents are solar and gas powered and made from insulated trucking canvas. Each come with an outdoor hot bath, gourmet self-cook dinner and breakfast packages, wine and other beverages and treats. Upon arrival, guests are given keys to their own golf cart and directions on how to reach their coastal tent. All tents come with a flat white espresso machine, microwave oven and hotel grade bedding. Meals are cooked on the barbecue and guests can select from chicken, salmon or steak, with crème brulee for dessert. The glam camping village sleeping 48 people is now well underway and will offer an outside kitchen, lounge, meeting marquee, dining area, outdoor bar, pizza ovens and fireplaces. This will be built to a high standard to ensure the most discerning of conference and incentive groups will be more than comfortable.

“The glam camping village is a totally new idea, and has not been done anywhere that I know of. We are receiving a lot of interest in the village and we are anticipating a very busy time ahead.”

Castaways Resort is positioned on two parcels of land. The existing main function centre, restaurant and accommodation are on four hectares of leased land with the lease running through to 2057. The day spa, Tasman venue, adventure activities, glam camping and glam camping village are on a free hold parcel of land in two titles totalling 56 hectares. Castaways Resort has all of the key attributes to take advantage of the booming tourism and hospitality sector and has become a well-respected and leading conference, wedding and accommodation destination. The purpose of capital raising is to allow for the future development and expansion of the resort and to achieve Castaway Resort’s vision of growing the business into New Zealand’s largest quality retreat, accommodation, functions and conference destination.

“I’m extremely passionate about Castaways Resort. There’s always a project on the go and we have always managed to grow the business year on year. We’re now seeking an equity partner and we are open to different ways that investors can be involved.”

The infrastructure and associated businesses have always been developed in unison ensuring that the resort has been self-funded using self-generated surplus funds from its inception through to the latest additions. The next expansion is the 530 bed resort complex.

“Our next project takes us to the next level. The aim is to be able to host 530 people – shortly we’ll have capacity for 136 including the glam camp village. We want the development to add 400 beds and we have a consent underway to make this happen. As we are so near Auckland central, Castaways Resort is set to become a jewel in Auckland’s crown.”

This proposal is a natural next step for Castaways Resort given there is the proven track record to both develop the infrastructure of a resort as well as the associated successful business.