Interview - John Stavrou

Interview: John Stavrou, Chief Executive Officer, AQUIPLAN - 27th August 2004

Media Man Australia continues to explore the world of property developers, who are making ground breaking achievements in the Whitsunday - Airlie Beach region, in tropical Queensland.

On our recent working holiday of the Whitsundays, we met with some of the regions most successful and respected property developers, including the gentleman who made the deal with Ivana Trump, Mr John Stavrou.

John Stavrou discusses his business, life and the appeal of the Whitsundays.

If you think you have seen and heard it all, in the property business, think again.

What is the big appeal of the Whitsunday region?

The Whitsunday region is extremely popular with our overseas tourists. It is very close to the Great Barrier Reef, it has 74 magical islands and magnificent waterways along with forests and numerous other draw cards. Is it any wonder that it is one of the most popular destinations. I have met tourist that have been back to the Whitsunday region time and time again. Airlie beach is young and alive.......

Our local population is only now starting to wake up and notice what a beautiful place this is and it is right in our own back yard.

When did you realize that there was a huge opportunity to establishing exclusive residences, penthouses and such on Airlie?

Back in the 80's thanks to Keith Williams of Hamilton Island...a true visionary.

What's the level of interest been like?

Extraordinary....from every corner of the world. So many rich and famous people have slipped in and out of Airlie Beach often without being detected. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt here, Why do these people keep coming back?

What's the key to being a successful property developer?

I am flattered that you have asked me this question. The same key that applies to everything in life...Stay focused on your goals and always do what you say you will do. You only fail or succeed when you say you have.

What can you disclose to us about how the Ivana Trump deal came about?

I don't know what else there is to disclose, we met quite some time ago and agreed to create something special together.

What do you most admire or respect about Ivana?

Her integrity, knowledge style and grace.

How important was the naming rights to you i.e.: Ivana Great Barrier Reef?

Our project is about style, grace, beauty and luxurious living...could it be named anything else?

What do you consider the highlights of your career?

Finding Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays back in the early 80's and teaming up with my business partner, Niko Aquilina.

What other property developers are doing exciting things on Airlie?

Every development in Airlie Beach is exciting but the ones that really stand out are the top tier developers such as Kevin Seymour (Seymour Group) and Karen & Craig Lyons. They see the beyond the horizon and will be placed to benefit from the inevitable.

Why is it important that the Ivana offering remain exclusive and invitation only?

I would like to quote Ivana ... " I have everything in the world, thank God, but something I don't have very often is privacy." I have met many people through Ivana that desire that very simple thing in life..a paparazzi free zone.

Explain the "Hollywood" appeal of Airlie?

What a perfect place, " 9 months of glorious weather and then you get Summer !! " Airlie is proof that you are alive and we only live once.

How important are relationships in your line of business?

Very, developments are not about one person, they are created by many people.

What other projects have you got on the go?

Waterline Apartments, 17 waterfront apartments and Le Sands Airlie Beach. We have also purchased 440 Hectares on the Whitsunday Coast perhaps one of the most breathtaking sites we have ever owned.

What's the biggest misconception about property developers?

I don't know, perhaps I should ask some people what they think about us....I do know that we are no different to anyone else.

What media attention have you attracted?

The project has been a hot topic for the press. We have been featured in numerous publications ranging from financial through to gossip magazines. Television and radio have also been running with the project on a regular basis. The internet is also a source of information with the Media Man Australia, Financial Review and other quality sources reaching a world wide audience.

What's your thoughts on entertainment industry ties ins with property developers?

The game is becoming more and more sophisticated. At the end of the day we are seeing better quality product being produced with attention to the market needs.

Can you confirm Sir Richard Branson' interest in Airlie?

No, I am not in a position to do that.

Are you planning any Gala nights with live entertainment and such, under the AQUIPLAN or Ivana banner? (I know this is an unusual question, Craig and Karen had a great deal of success with theirs).

Yes, there will be in the near future. I wish I could tell you more but at this stage, but I can't.

What kind of return on investment can Whitsunday investors expect on exclusive residences and apartments?

Ivana Great Barrier Reef will be for the exclusive use of the residents only. Their return will be privacy, security and luxury, some people want nothing more.

What kind of tax relief and incentives can you offer investors?

Tax relief would probably be short lived. With the area growing faster than any other in Australia capital gains and returns may very well be a tax burden. It is a nice problem to have.

Why is an efficient airline service to Hamilton Island to important to business in the region?

Airlines know that this is a growth area and more resources have been put into this region to attract the tourist dollar. Stay tuned though...International carriers are in a holding pattern, when they land watch the place explode with growth.

What attributes to you look for in alliances, employees, and those that you do business with?

Integrity, Authenticity but most of all Passion. Niko Aquilina and I expect nothing less.

How do you maintain "the edge"?

Listen, learn and keep an open mind.

Who do you consider your mentors?

Everyone around me gives me inspiration and guidance.

What motivates you?

Today and tomorrow.

What are your thoughts on Donald Trump's "The Apprentice"?

Donald is a smart businessman, but then again he did get fired himself some years ago....

What do you do to relax?

Boating is also a passion, perhaps I will find the time soon to do some.

What's the best thing about Airlie for you?

Being able to visualize Airlie Beach ten years from is going to be "The Best" for many people.

Where do you go to relax?

I go to Airlie Beach.


Editors note: If you are looking for lifestyle, comfort, privacy and many of life's other indulgences, you need to see the Whitsundays for yourself. The Whitsundays are simply world class.

Further Information:

John Stavrou
Chief Executive Officer
B. 61 2 9283 7070
F. 61 2 9283 7071

Official websites


IVANA Great Barrier Reef

Waterline Apartments

le sands


Ivana Trump official website

Ivana Trump - CMG Worldwide

Whitsunday Shire Council

Tourism Queensland

Media websites

The Whitsunday Times

Proserpine Guardian

Australian Financial Review

Fairfax Digital

Media Man Australia


Property and Investments


Coastal Directory

Regional and Rural News

Entrepreneurs and Innovators

Ivana Trump


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