From his office adjoining the gaming floor of Singapore’s colossal Marina Bay Sands resort, once officially named as the world’s most Instagrammed hotel, casino boss Andrew MacDonald laments the fact that he can’t get over to Kangaroo Island this summer.
In any other year, Andrew and his family would spend a few weeks at 900 Min Oil Road, Nepean Bay – a property he purchased with the vision to build a boutique holiday destination with luxury caravans and eco-tents.
He had planned to invest up to $10 million to set up what would be known as Mistere Retreat on the property’s 100 hectares, which borders a spectacular stretch of uninhabited beach at Nepean Bay.
“We can’t visit this Christmas and that’s part of the reason for putting it on the market, to be honest,” says Andrew, who has this week put the property up for sale with a price tag of $1.8 million.
“It’s a spectacular spot. I was searching for properties to fulfil that vision, and I looked around Australia a lot. I latched on to Kangaroo Island, which I’d never visited even though I’d lived in Adelaide for a period of time,” Andrew says.
“There aren’t very many rural properties that have sea views and almost a private beach out the front, and that was one of the things that really attracted me.”
Andrew started his career as a dealer in Tasmania in 1978 and lived in South Australia for a decade as an Adelaide Casino executive until 1996.
Today, he is Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Casino Officer at the $8 billion casino resort Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. He says the lifestyle is a stark juxtaposition to holidaying on Kangaroo Island.
“I think Singapore is one-sixth the size of Kangaroo Island with a population of nearly six million people,” Andrew says. “The operation we run here has 2561 hotel rooms and is the most profitable integrated resort in the world.
“But, to be honest, Kangaroo Island is one of the nicest places I’ve ever visited.”
Also the most expensive resort of its kind ever built, Marina Bay Sands has three cascading hotel towers topped by a sky park and 150-metre-long infinity pool. Andrew says he took some modest inspiration from the hotel in building the runway-style pool on Kangaroo Island.
“Building the pool was one of the first things I did. We made sure we orientated it perpendicular to the house so that’s almost like a runway,” he says.
“Our infinity pool in Singapore is 200 metres up on 57th floor and it’s 150 metres long, so it’s a bit different, but it was a little bit of inspiration, to be honest. It had to have an infinity edge.”
In addition to installing the pool, Andrew has fully renovated the home, which is currently let as short-term holiday accommodation – which you can rent on Airbnb, by the way.
There’s also a giant throne constructed out of old farm machinery by Tanunda artist Joel Zimmermann who based the concept on Game of Thrones.
“It’s just a spectacular spot. It’s almost a private beach out the front, and that was one of the things that really attracted me.”
Andrew purchased the property without having inspected the land in person. But when he did first visit, he was floored by the beauty and overall experience of Kangaroo Island.
“I grew up in Tasmania and had never experienced the amount and diversity of flora and fauna in one location that I did on Kangaroo island,” he says.
“So, it wasn’t just about the property in the end, it became more about Kangaroo Island as such a phenomenal resource for South Australia.”
Andrew and his family normally visit for a few weeks in December each year to immerse themselves in the serenity enveloping the property on which they keep a range of miniature horses, cows, donkeys and goats.
“The kids are now 12 and 14 and because they’re city kids they love going down there. To get to that environment with clean air, a beach that is basically uninhabited and animals to interact with, that’s heaven to them.
“I’ve walked the dog along the beach so many times and, other than seeing a neighbour occasionally, I don’t see anybody.”
The pandemic has forced Andrew to list his Australian investment properties on the market, including a property at Kingscliff and a 130-acre retreat near Murwillumbah in New South Wales. But, parting with this sanctuary on Kangaroo Island is particularly difficult.
“I think it is a stunning place, but if you can’t get there, it’s frustrating. Hopefully, somebody else comes along who can really cherish it, have a great time with their family and fall in love with the place.”
The sale is being handled by Michael Barrett of Century 21 Kangaroo Island.