Steaming ahead

A rendering of Onsen Hot Pools & Spa's proposed west wing

Owners of a hot pools complex at Queenstown’s Arthurs Point are planning to double the size of their popular tourist attraction.

Onsen Hot Pools and Spa’s Rachael and Scott Haydon want resource consent to add a west wing with eight cedar-lined hot tubs – five outside and three inside – plus four new massage rooms, new offices and a larger staffroom.

They’re hoping the $1 million-plus extension – 285 square metres of ground floor and 230sqm of upper floor – will be ready next winter.

Routinely booked out, the present two-level complex, opened by Mitsi and Tony Williams in 2007, comprises six indoor pools with retractable roofs along with massage rooms.

These new outdoor pools will be designed to provide a more traditional Japanese ‘onsen’ experience in a garden environment.

From Auckland, the Haydons bought Onsen Hot Pools & Spa off the original owners two years ago for $2m – one of Queenstown’s few tourism businesses that come with a freehold property.

Scott says they’ve replaced the pools and decking and upgraded the reception area.

To use hotel star ratings, “it was like [going from a] three-star up to a five-star”.

“It’s not just a hot pool in the backyard – it’s something special.”

Already ranking highly on global online review site TripAdvisor, the attraction has become an Instagram sensation in recent years as celebrities post pictures of themselves in a hot tub with the stunning Shotover River backdrop.

An example is Canadian super-star Alanis Morissette who visited Onsen before performing at the Gibbston Valley Winery concert last summer.

It also features on GoPro and LADBible Instagram accounts which each have more than 10 million followers.

The business benefits from its location in fast-growing Arthurs Point where it’s surrounded by new apartment and housing developments under construction including La Residence du Parc right above.

Its popularity in winter is also boosted by its proximity to the Coronet Peak skifield.

Scott: “I just think Arthurs Point was a little bit forgotten about for a while, and then all of a sudden people have woken up to the fact it’s pretty close to town and the traffic’s far less [than Frankton Road].”

He says the reason for extending Onsen is “to future-proof the business and get ready for the next stage”.

Co-owner Scott Haydon on the site of the planned extension

Rachael adds: “Expanding our offering to include both indoor and outdoor pools as well as more massage facilities will ensure Onsen continues to provide visitors with the ultimate tranquil escape from the action-packed, adrenalin-filled activities and winery offerings in the region for years to come.”

The couple commissioned Mark Gray, from Queenstown’s Wyatt + Gray Architects, to design the extension.

Gray says it’s “an exciting and highly technical project on a spectacular site”.

It’s likely Coloursteel and cedar cladding will be used to match the existing building and blend in with the landscape.

New carparks will also be added on an adjacent site.

Meanwhile, Onsen this month won ‘best unique experience spa’ and best ‘luxury mountain resort spa’ in Australia and Oceania at the World Luxury Spa Awards.