In remembrance of Keith Williams, all flags on Hamilton Island are at half mast today
The Hamilton Island team was deeply saddened to learn of Keith Williams’ death last night.
“Our thoughts go out to Keith’s family,” Hamilton Island owner, Bob Oatley said today. “We are just thankful that Keith and his wife Thea were able to visit us recently and spend some final days on the Island he loved. It was the first time in more than a decade that he had the opportunity to visit the resort.”
“Queensland and Australia are indebted to Keith Williams for his many achievements. He was a true pioneer and legend and the tourism industry has lost one of its most passionate supporters with his passing. On Hamilton Island we are proud to continue the vision that Keith began so many years ago,” said Mr Oatley.
Keith Williams owned and operated Hamilton Island between 1975 and 1991.
He first became aware of the Island in the mid-1970s when he was enjoying a cruise through the Whitsundays aboard his motor yacht. What impressed him most was that it had one of the very few north-facing beaches to be found anywhere on the east coast of Australia. He made some inquiries about the Island, and within a very short time he and business associate, Bryan Byrt had purchased the grazing lease that gave them ownership of the entire five-square kilometre (two-square mile) Island. Sadly, Byrt passed away in 1978 and Williams abandoned plans for establishing a grazing property on the island, instead deciding to turn it into a tourist destination.
Mr Williams gained government approval to commence the development of the Hamilton Island Marina, followed by construction of the Resort in 1982.
He also built a commercial airport on the Island making the destination easily accessible for holidaymakers – still a great asset to this day. By the early 1980s he could lay claim to Hamilton Island being Australia’s premier tropical island resort destination. In 1996 Hamilton Island became a public company with the major shareholder being Bankers Trust.
The Island was acquired by current owners, the Oatley family in 2003.
It was when Keith Williams was in the early stages of the development of the resort that noted Australian winemaker Bob Oatley was cruising through the islands aboard a yacht and just happened to sail past Hamilton Island: “I didn’t go ashore, but I could recognise the potential of the island,” Oatley said.
“It was the very early days of the development; they were building the airstrip and the harbour at the time, and there was a lot of activity going on. I remember saying ‘what a great project that is,’ never thinking that one day I’d be the owner.”
The Oatley family has invested over $300M since they purchased Hamilton Island which includes the development of luxury resort qualia, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club and Villas and the 18 hole Peter Thomson designed Golf Club on Dent Island.
“When he visited recently, Keith was excited to see all that we had created at Hamilton Island,” Bob Oatley said. “I think he was proud of what we had done to continue his early vision for the Island as a leading tourism destination for Australian and international visitors.”
Note to Editors:
Hamilton Island is located off the Queensland coast of Australia, within the Whitsunday Islands at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. www.hamiltonisland.com.au
Hamilton Island media contacts:
Jo Wilkinson, m: 0416 036 713, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Collins, m: 0417 654 474, email@example.com