Surekha Ragavan
Jul 23, 2018

Great Barrier Reef opens first-ever events venue

The venue will allow guests to rent a high-speed catamaran and customise experiences on an outer Reef pontoon.

Great Barrier Reef opens first-ever events venue

If you’ve ever dreamed of holding a corporate event atop a pontoon as it glides across the blue waters of the Coral Sea, you're in luck. Recently, Sunlover Funlover was launched as a dedicated events venue on the Great Barrier Reef.

The venue can accommodate up to 300 guests and an outer Reef pontoon can be customised for any function. Guests can also rent a high-speed catamaran.

Sunlover Reef Cruises and Hides Hotel Cairns Group general manager Sharon Sheldrake said the offsite venue is the only tourism infrastructure at Arlington Reef so guests would feel like they have the Reef to themselves.

“The concept of chartering a pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef and customising the experience to suit your specific requirements in terms of entertainment, theming, branding and timing is completely new so there is no benchmark for demand,” Sheldrake told CEI.

“However, we did thoroughly research what the meetings and events market was seeking and used this in product development.

“We have already secured bookings for the next two years, which were generated via word of mouth so we are confident that business professionals around the world are looking for a venue that is innovative and truly unique.”

As Cairns is blessed with beautiful landscapes, it’s a common destination for incentive trips and corporate events. To add, it has comprehensive conferencing and events infrastructure and an international airport. The launch of Sunlover Funlover only lends visibility to the destination.

“We can cater for a range of events from conference break-outs, product launches, networking events, and team building to presentations. It’s a business built on showcasing the magnificence of the Reef using our staff and facilities,” Sheldrake said.

“It’s an extension of this but with the addition of customisable elements determined by the client.”

Rosie Douglas, general manager at Tourism Tropical North Queensland, said that the new venue will be ideal for groups that want to book a tailor-made Reef experience as well as conference groups that are looking for different ways to hold meetings.

“We are looking forward to promoting this new opportunity for trips to the Reef out of Cairns and it will complement all the other amazing activities we have available for conference organisers,” she said.

While the launch of a new venue has been positively received, the Reef is currently suffering from severe coral bleaching. About half of the corals in the Reef have died from coral bleaching due to extreme heat, a result of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Every event request is evaluated against a rigorous internal environmental checklist to ensure our precious environment is not impacted or compromised,” said Sheldrake. “Showing people the Reef is the best way to get them to care about its future and make sure they are part of the solution.”


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