Richard Branson may be mystery buyer of Byron Bay resort

October 29, 2012, 11:30 amYahoo7

Iconic and internationally awarded luxury boutique hotel in Byron Bay has been purchased by an anonymous overseas buyer.

Rae’s on Wategos, an iconic holiday resort frequented by Hollywood’s elite, rock stars and cashed up businessmen has sold for an estimated $20 million, with speculation the anonymous buyer could be Sir Richard Branson.

Listed as one of Australia’s “most exquisite and unique accommodation locations”, the boutique hotel has “stunning” views over exclusive Wategos Beach and sits nestled amongst some of Australia’s most expensive mansions.

Scheduled for an afternoon auction, proceedings were halted after 30 minutes as auctioneer Andrew Bell announced that the property had sold.

Due to a strict confidentiality clause the exact sale price is not known, however agents and industry insiders believe the price would be close to the $20 million mark.

There is speculation the property was sold to an offshore buyer who appeared to have negotiated through an Australian representative.

Before the auction, Mr Rae commented that British tycoon Richard Branson had expressed strong interest in the property.

"I've had discussions with Richard Branson over the last year or two, he loves the place," the hotelier said.

Built in the 1970’s with gardens designed by Salvador Dali, the seven penthouse hotel was established and run by entrepreneur Vinnie Rae.

Over the years Rae’s has hosted rich and famous guests including Elle Macpherson, Tom Cruise, Keith Richards, Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel and Gwyneth Paltrow. Richard Branson has also stayed in the French-inspired resort which includes a restaurant and spa.

With guests paying between $600 and $1380 a night, the hotel has been “internationally awarded and recognised as one of the world’s best small hotels.

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