Elandra Resort closes its doors to tourists as cyclone Yasi takes its toll
ONE of the Far North's most luxurious boutique resorts has closed its doors to holidaymakers due to ongoing problems after cyclone Yasi.
The Elandra Resort at Mission Beach is no longer taking individual bookings from tourists and is refunding pre-booked accommodation and vouchers.
A sign says it is "closed for a private function", but The Cairns Post understands most staff have lost their jobs and a farewell pool party will be held on Friday.
Cyclone Yasi damaged all 55 of the resort’s rooms with just 20 opening in April and since then the resort’s owners Adam Karras and Katrina Knowles have struggled with insurance issues.
Recently, Mr Karras said it might have been wiser to follow in the footsteps of Dunk Island Resort and close while repairs were assessed by insurers.
"We are really on the thin end of the wedge," he had told The Courier Mail.
"We have absolutely no idea which way it could go.
"It is relentless.
"Every second is costing us a lot of money."
Mr Karras did not return calls from The Cairns Post yesterday but he told the state’s Tourism Minister Jan Jarratt the Elandra planned to refocus its operations.
"They’ve made a decision to change the model of operation from a holiday resort to a conference and function centre that could cater for large groups," Ms Jarratt said.
She said the owners would use the downtime between group bookings to continue work on the reconstruction effort, which has been under way since Yasi hit the coast in February last year.
Former staff yesterday had nothing but praise for the owners and say Mr Karras personally organised jobs at other Mission Beach businesses for them to go to.
"I lost my job one day and I start a new one this week," said one woman who didn’t want to be named.
"It is sad though ... the Elandra is a beautiful place to work and hopefully one day if it reopens properly I will go back there.
"But we understand what they are doing and why.’’
Will Neville, chairman of Mission Beach Tourism and Business described the news as concerning for the region.
"We rely on the big operators to market Mission Beach," he said.
- Additional reporting Daniel Strudwick
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Before Yasi: In addition to providing jobs, The Elandra Resortís marketing power has been important to promoting Mission Beach and the region.