By Justin Flynn
Plans to turn Portarlington’s Grand Hotel into “Geelong’s version of MONA” will be a one of its kind, former mayor Darryn Lyons said.
Mr Lyons, along with Bill Votsaris and Mario Gregorio, are hoping to redevelop the 1888-built hotel into a tourism mecca on the Bellarine.
“It will be Geelong’s version of MONA,” Mr Lyons told the Voice.
“We’re probably going to have the most unique photographic gallery in all of Australia – something never seen before in this country in a commercial hotel.”
Also included in the plans are a cocktail/piano bar, brasserie, sports bar and luxury accommodation.
“We’ve been in talks with Port Phillip Ferries as well, and we’re still having incredible discussions in regard to the gallery being possibly shown on the way down as well,” Mr Lyons said.
Mr Lyons, developer Bill Votsaris and business partner Mario Gregorio are close to securing a long-term lease for the Newcombe Street hotel.
“It’s going to be an incredibly exciting venture and details aren’t completely finalised, but it’s probably going to be the most exciting renovation that’s going to happen on the Bellarine from a tourism point of view,” Mr Lyons said.
“I’m really excited by what I would describe as a rough diamond that I am so keen to polish it’s incredible.”
Mr Lyons said the dining room would be “pure Hollywood glamour” and was looking at taking over operations at the hotel “very soon, but I can’t give a timeline at the moment”.
“It’s not all about tourism,” he said.
“It’s giving back to the locals on the Bellarine sourcing our food and drink.”
“The journey for Melbourne people going to Portsea and the Mornington Peninsula (they) are going to be awfully jealous of what we are going to create on the other side of the bay.
“We’ll have a little touch of Europe on our doorstep.”
Mr Lyons said the group had been in talks with the Little Projects company, but would not elaborate on the details.
“We’ve been in talks about exciting possibilities but nothing has been confirmed with the Little group at this stage,” he said.