Re-think on hostel demo

Hostel takeover: An artist's impression of a large Queenstown backpackers

A big demo job looms to build a huge new backpackers in central Queenstown.

A five-level, 256-person Jucy Snooze backpackers will be built on the corner of Camp and Memorial Streets.

As Mountain Scene reported in March, the intention was to add two floors to the existing three-level building.

But developer Ian Hamilton, of Oxford Holdings, now says: “We’re demolishing more than we originally intended to.”

The existing building will be taken down to the ground floor, with some walls retained.

That’s so the new building can be earthquake-strengthened to 100 per cent of the building code.

Hamilton expects the rebuild to start by Christmas and for the building to be open in late 2017.

Hamilton says demolition is slightly more economical than strengthening the existing structure.

Designed by JCY Architects’ Queenstown office, the new 60-room building will be up to 2.47 metres above the 12m height limit.

In granting resource consent, however, council planners say its design helps to mitigate the extra height.

It’s also appropriate for the location, given it’s opposite the open-space Recreation Ground, they say.

Jucy Group, best known for its rental campervan business, opens its first Jucy Snooze budget hotel in Christchurch next month.

The Queenstown hostel will comprise bunk-style accomm-odation for 172 backpackers and self-contained units for another 84.

Bunkroom guests will sleep in two-metre-long pods.

They’re designed for one person, “but we’re going to have a look at the option of two-people ones in Queenstown”, Jucy Snooze general manager Chris Myers says.

There’ll be a rooftop bar and restaurant, and guests will use their smartphones for checking in, opening and securing their rooms.

Myers doesn’t doubt the backpackers will fill a gap.

“Queenstown’s got a shortage of beds in most seasons now.

“We’re really confident it will fill up pretty quickly.”

Christchurch tariffs start from $39, with Queenstown likely to follow suit.

Workers axed as demo looms

Time’s being called on three Queenstown CBD bars to satisfy the resort’s thirst for more visitor accommodation.

Malbas Tavern, Camp Street Brewing Company and Xtreme Sports Bar each occupy one level of the three-level building on the corner of Camp and Memorial Streets.

But they’ll close in two weeks’ time, before demolition work starts later this month – to make way for a 256-person backpackers.

Licensee Dwayne Quirk says it’s proving very hard to find a new location for his bars.

Last year he accepted a buy-out price for his three outlets, contingent on the developer gaining resource consent for a backpackers.

Quirk says Queenstown’s a tough market for bars: “You’ve got high rents and a lot of [booze] discounting.

“I don’t know why an international resort needs to discount but it’s probably because you’ve got that many pubs in a small area.

“There’s some great bars in this town but they could be greater if they were making more money.

“No one can afford to pay their staff what they’re actually worth because the money’s just not there.”

Quirk says he’s laying off 15 staff, 90 per cent of whom are full-timers.

Malbas Tavern barman Dean Stackhouse says it’s “a bit crushing” to be losing his job.

“A few people are leaving town, a few are moving to other bars.”

Stackhouse, who says he’s loved working for Dwayne Quirk and his wife Tish, says he’ll go round looking for another job today.

Patrons will also lose out, he adds.

“I can imagine some will be a bit lost – for some it’s their second home, in some cases, their first home.”

Queenstown will also lose its only full-service TAB when Malbas Tavern shuts, though SkyCity’s Beach Street casino, which only has a self-service TAB, is expected to take up the slack.