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skinnydipsWayne Pihlgren is torn between melancholy and anticipation after the sale of Skinny Dips, the only gay resort in Cairns.

After seven years at the helm, he and partner Glenn Wadsworth were as surprised as anyone when a buyer agreed to a price tag of about $1.5 million for the 21-room North Cairns complex last month.

But with the new owner set to switch the market to a mainstream audience, Mr Pihlgren said it was the end of an era.

"We had it quietly on the market for about 12 months, but people were looking for stupid bargains," he said.

"The buyer made an offer which didn’t suit and it went quiet for a while, then they came back and met our asking price.

"It’s a little bit sad that Cairns won’t have a gay hotel.

Mainstream accommodation has become much more progressive in acceptance of gay couples, when it comes to booking double beds, but you still can’t really hold hands in the restaurant or have a cuddle in the pool.

"I still think gay people often prefer the comfort of a gay hotel."

He said Skinny Dips had faced the same rocky road as tourism across the Far North, particularly in the past year, but a strong clientele of repeat or referred guests had served them well.

"We haven’t advertised for 12 months. All our patronage is returns or referrals."

He said winter had been the resort’s high season, along with their Mardi Gras recovery party.

The new owners are due to take over on June 18.

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