Written by Jeni Bone
31 August 2022
Peter Brulisauer made the change “from snow to sand” in April, taking the helm at Hamilton Island as CEO after 16 years as head of Perisher, Hotham and Falls Creek ski resorts, and many years of working in his family’s alpine hotel business.
Replacing Glenn Bourke who was in the role for 14 years, Peter joins the Hamilton Island family from Vail Resorts, where he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of their Australian operations.
Peter has been integral to the success of the Australian snow industry, leading Perisher, Hotham, and Falls Creek ski resorts for the past three years, following his leadership at Perisher since 2006.
Here, Peter speaks with Ocean about his pathway to paradise, impressions of Race Week and his vision for its evolution.
I grew into it. My parents owned a restaurant and hotels in the Perisher ski resort in the 1960s. Over the years, I took many roles in the industry. While I was at uni, I worked at Mammoth Mountain in California as a ski racing coach.
I gained a degree in Commerce Law, and was always keen to work in the industry, particularly in ski and snow tourism. Over the past 16 years, I was working for Perisher resorts owned by Consolidated Press Holdings and Transfield, and from 2015, owned by Vail Resorts.
Based on its reputation as the biggest keelboat regatta in the southern hemisphere, I had heard a lot about it. All my friends and contacts in the Snowy Mountains were impressed and those who had experienced it for themselves said the sailing was incredible and the social side was legendary. I was very excited to get into it.
I spent 16 years in the role at Perisher. I love the Snowy Mountains – it’s my home and my passion. I had visited Hamilton Island on a family holiday. I wasn’t looking for a new opportunity, but the conversation arose and I saw the Oatley family’s passion and vision for Hamilton Island and I was persuaded. There are not too many places that interest me, but I recognised this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I have a lot of experience in destination tourism and working with family-owned resorts, and there are a lot of parallels with the alpine resorts. I have a great deal of respect for what the team and family have created, and I am keen to explore the opportunities ahead for evolving this world-class destination.
Not at this point. Once I get a Race Week under my belt, I will be working with the team to see how we can evolve Race Week. There’s a full program of events here at Hamilton Island, including the Hamilton Island Hilly Half Marathon, Great Whitehaven Beach Run and Hamilton Island Triathlon.
We see a lot of growth potential in business events. In this age of working from home, there’s strong demand from businesses aiming to differentiate and book special events to bring teams together, and where better to do that than Hamilton Island?
Since January 2022, it has been really strong and is continuing to improve. We were lucky during border closures that Queensland really supported us and they have been very loyal. Australians are actively enjoying holidaying at home and through word of mouth and social media, the allure of Hamilton Island has been spread to new markets.
In terms of international visitation and the international workforce, we are starting to see green shoots. We have found it quite challenging, like every business in hospitality, and now we look forward to welcoming back international students, backpackers and tourists as their different markets return to travel.
We have a great relationship with Tourism & Events Queensland and Tourism Australia and we’re looking forward to working with them and our various travel partners around the world on upcoming international trade shows. All our traditional markets, such as the UK, US, Germany and Asia are coming back – some quicker than others, and we are actively working with our contacts as travel rebounds at different rates.
Its accessibility is the most obvious attribute. With direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, you’re only a few hours away from landing in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, and just half an hour in a golf buggy from swimming in the pool or the ocean.
Another unique feature is the community here – people live here and it has that community feel, compared to a resort. You can go to the Tavern, shop on Front Street, take a golf buggy around the island and feel that community connection.
Then there are the natural attributes such as the Reef, Whitehaven Beach and Passage Peak, Dent Island golf and all the activities such as Go Karts, and the 6-star experience of qualia.
There’s something for everyone on Hamilton Island, from couples to multi-generational families, those into diving, sailing and extreme sports.