Crown Limited co-chairman James Packer is backing The Star’s plan to build a 360-room hotel to compete with Crown’s $2 billion Sydney casino project.
Last week, The Star Entertainment Group confirmed that it is in discussions with the New South Wales government to build a 360-room hotel at its casino complex at Sydney’s Darling Harbor. The Star is also tapping the Ritz-Carlton brand to operate the luxury hotel tower, which could open by 2020. This would beat Crown’s six-star hotel by more than a year.
Since this project will be located across from the 275 meter Crown Sydney hotel–part of Crown’s $2 billion Barangaroo casino project, media speculated that it will intensify the casino war between the two rivals.
But it hasn’t. In fact, Packer expressed his support to The Star’s upgrades, which could attract more high rollers from Asia.
“What’s good for Sydney is good for Australia and what’s good for Australia is good for Crown,” Packer told The Daily Telegraph.
A Crown spokesman added that this is not about being “altruistic or smoking peace pipes,” but rather how The Star’s project would help attract more international tourists to Sydney.
“The quicker Sydney builds new luxury hotels, the better. Our competitors across Asia and the rest of the world are investing heavily in new hotels, tourism attractions and new transport infrastructure. If we don’t keep up, we will lose jobs and income to other countries,” said the Crown spokesman.
The spokesman also cited Singapore’s business model, which proves that having more competition could benefit the region as an overall tourist destination.
“Singapore has demonstrated that building more high quality hotels actually boosts the overall number of visitors to a country” said the spokesman.
Crown’s support for its rival prompted some experts to question whether Packer, in return, hopes that The Star would drop its claim that Crown’s Sydney proposal is legally flawed. Last year, The Star made a legal submission that questioned the huge number of modifications from Crown’s original plan, saying it “would be open to judicial review proceedings in Class 4 of the Land and Environments Court’s jurisdiction.”