Bold plans to build a landmark five-star, 201-room, high-rise luxury hotel in Port Hedland with a restaurant, bar and resort-style pool have been unveiled. The development will transform the Walkabout Hotel site on the Great Northern Highway into a high-end facility in a bid to bolster accommodation options in town. Developer Walkabout Holdings, which recently entered a joint partnership with Azzura Developments, will use the new building to complement the existing Walkabout Hotel, which normally caters to truck drivers and road travellers. It will be built adjacent to the planned Great Northern Highway Bypass. WH director Neal Jones-Guilmartin said he hoped to have construction started by the end of next year, pending approvals. He said a rise in domestic tourism off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic and a significant upturn in the resources sector were driving factors behind the project. “It’ll be the first five-star hotel in the Pilbara and we think it’s the perfect time for it,” he said. “With the COVID-19 pandemic there’s been a surge in regional tourism that’ll wash through all of Australia. That surge will drive demand for a better quality of hotel.” The move comes after a recent council decision also gave Walkabout Holdings the green light to develop the nearby Landing Hotel site, which will allow for the facility’s capacity to be nearly doubled. Initial planning approval to expand the site — originally built as a caravan park — was granted in 2011. The most recent decision means the hotel will now be able to upgrade the existing facility. Planned upgrades include the construction of 352 new motel rooms, an incidental office block, three shops fronting the highway, additional parking and an aluminium screen with Aboriginal artwork fronting the highway. Town of Port Hedland mayor Peter Carter said he welcomed the council’s decision to approve amendments to the planning application.