Article supplied by APRA AMCOS.
Published in Proud to Play.
Sandstone Point Hotel, at the gateway to Queensland’s Bribie Island, is the latest success story from the Comiskey Group. The venue was a labour of love for the Comiskey family, with father Paul (builder) and sons David (engineer) and Rob (architect), finally achieving the green light on the development last year.
The venue hosted Sandstone Rocks this Spring with Hoodoo Gurus, Baby Animals, Jon Stevens and The Black Sorrows headlining and in 2017 will host an outdoor concert ‘Red Hot Summer’ (with icons Farnam, Reyne and Braithwaite).
We can’t think of many other Australian hotels that are sitting on 35 hectares of land ripe for open-air concerts, so we sat down for a chat with Rob to see how music will shape this new property.
The capacity for concerts of 20,000 is impressive – why this live music event strategy?
When we first looked at the site we knew we had something special. Waterfront concert sites are rare and this site has a 180 degree view of the beautiful Moreton Bay.
Much has been written about the financial success and industry awards won by Comiskey development projects (best beer garden, best hotel). What position can Sandstone Point carve out in your portfolio?
We are always pleased when we receive an award. It is not why we do it, but it is always great to recognised for the effort our team puts in. We think of each hotel as having its own personality. Eatons Hill Hotel and Function Centre in Brisbane’s northern suburbs set about being known for great live entertainment from the best DJs to the biggest bands in the world, where Sandstone Point is more ‘family friendly’ with a massive kids’ area and, of course, great live bands on the grass overlooking the blue ocean. Becahmere Hotel, in the Morteon Bay region between the two hotels has been remodeled with a breezy new look to become Beachmere’s premier local dining and bar venue.
What has been the customer profile through the first 12 months?
Everyone and anyone. Mums and dads with the kids looking for a Sunday drive and 20 and 30-somethings chilling out to the music.
How does the events and live music strategy differ among your three hotel/tavern venues? Is there a sharing of music resources?
Yes, some sharing does occur but each hotel has a different offer. Eatons Hill is a strong indoor concert venue for up to 2,100 and Sandstone Point is for outdoor live ‘on the grass’ concerts for up to 18,000. They are resourced differently.
The Strawberry Festival is an interesting idea. How did that come about – why the focus on family?
We now have the Strawberry and the Oyster Festivals which both embrace the history of the area. Sandstone Point land was an oyster farm in the early 1900s, and the area is also the largest strawberry growing area in Australia.
The Caboolture area is one of the largest strawberry growing regions in Australia and it represents an opportunity for people in the region to celebrate the contribution of this primary industry as well as have a good time.
There’s a nod to the heritage of the area with the Oyster Shed – how have you embraced the history of the Bay? How have locals embraced the venue?
Installing the new jetty and renovating the old oyster shed into a fish and chippery embraces the history and allows the customers to remember ‘what was.’ We’ve received great support from the locals.
How do you curate your entertainment?
We put a lot of focus on the music through the hotel so we have a weekly meeting to help promote our gigs and to assist promoters with selling the maximum amount of tickets for each show. We installed the best PA system and lighting to make it more attractive to bands touring.
How do the performing artists see you?
We always make sure the artists get great service. We always over-deliver, from offering a great bottle of red to a steak at 10pm at night. Since we have a restaurant in-house we can give the artists something to remember us by.
How do you know if a music performance has been a success?
I think the smiles on people’s faces and the general feel of the audience after the concert and a few beers always helps with a great night.
How do you structure ticketing?
When we’re promoting a concert we always err on the side of caution and make sure the ticket price is good value.
What does Rob Comiskey like to sit back and listen to?
Everything and anything, from Ed Sheeran to Ice Cube to Mumford & Sons.