$35m hotel splurge


The owner of Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown is planning a 69-room luxury hotel as part of a $35 million investment in the property.

Subject to resource consent, the QT-branded five-star hotel will replace 92 outdated rooms in the two rear blocks, which will be demolished.

AHL Hotels (NZ), owned by Australian giant Amalgamated Holdings, will also upgrade Rydges’ existing restaurant and bar facilities and the lobby off Lake Esplanade.

As Queenstown cries out for more visitor accommodation, Mountain Scene can also reveal two new hotels are in the wings.

Local developer Lew Gdanitz expects to start work on a 54-room, $10m boutique hotel in Henry Street next month.

And Singaporean interests, who are buying a Shotover St site beside the Crown Plaza hotel for $9m, are believed to be planning a 120-room boutique hotel.

Amalgamated Holdings boss David Seargeant says his target is to complete QT Queenstown by the end of next year.

“It’s about a $35m project - that gives some idea of the quality that we’re putting in.”

Amalgamated Holdings operates five Australian hotels under the QT brand, with two more on the way, and is also using the brand for Wellington’s Museum Hotel which it bought for $28.5m earlier this year.
Seargeant: “I think it’s an expectation now that a major tourist destination needs to have hotels of that style to attract the true international tourists.”

He says the QT brand is notable for its level of finish and design and quirky style.

Guests will use the food and beverage facilities in the existing Rydges hotel but Seargeant says they’ll be upgraded along the lines of QT Gold Coast’s Stingray Lounge and Bazaar restaurant.

Not to have upgraded the dated rear of the hotel, considering its commanding views, would have been a wasted opportunity, he believes.

The Brunswick St blocks date back to the original Fosters Hotel, erected in 1953, and in their current form to 1964 and 1975.

Local Warren and Mahoney principal Ian Adamson, whose firm has designed QT Queenstown, says: “The new boutique hotel, with primary reception off Brunswick St, will significantly improve the quality of the
surrounding environment, potentially acting as a catalyst for future improvements.

“With a contemporary design approach, the building will provide a positive replacement to the rather tired 1960s collection of buildings.

“It has been designed in such a manner to complement the existing Lake Esplanade buildings in terms of both proportion and material selection, while providing a point of difference.”

Graham Budd, chief executive of tourism body Destination Queenstown, says: “I’m delighted to hear that we’re getting that kind of investment in our hotel stock”.

Given the shortage of rooms at that end of the market: “I think the QT brand and five star is exactly what Queenstown needs.

“There’s no question that I would like to see additional hotel accommodation built in Queenstown, but in the meantime, refurbishing old stock that’s dated, if you like, is the next best thing, so it’s a welcome

Budd denies that Queenstown’s shortage of visitor accommodation constitutes a crisis.

“Like any popular holiday destination around the world, at peak times it’s hard to find accommodation if you haven’t pre-booked.”