Backpackers come of age

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Shaping up: An artist's impression of Queenstown's Jucy Snooze

A huge crane on the edge of downtown Queenstown heralds construction of not only the CBD’s tallest building, but also one of its more interesting.

Contractor Naylor Love is building a 14-metre-high, five-level backpackers for local developer Ian Hamilton’s Oxford Holdings.

The previous three-level building, housing three bars, was demolished.

Lessee Jucy Group, best known for its green and purple rental cars and campervans, will occupy the new building with a 256-person Jucy Snooze, opening next autumn.

Jucy Group boss Tim Alpe says his company spent about five years looking for premises.

“Queenstown, from a Jucy perspective, is incredibly important to us.”

Prime spot: Local Jucy boss Kat Van Dijk and company supremo Tim Alpe

His mission was to find somewhere within walking distance of world-famous burger joint Fergburger.

“Our customers tend to be the ones that want to be around the CBD, they want to be in the bars and experience the downtown, so that was always important to us.”

Jucy Group found Hamilton’s property, on the Camp Street/Memorial St corner.

After buying out the bar leases, the plan was to add two floors on top of the existing building.

“But it was going to be very difficult to do, and expensive, with a lot of unknown costs, too,” Hamilton says.

As a result, the decision was made to build from scratch.

Oxford Holdings obtained resource consent for a building that’s one floor higher than allowed under the current district plan – but exactly the height envisaged in the proposed plan.

Following the lead of its sister Christchurch backpackers, which opened last November, Queenstown’s Jucy Snooze will provide two-metre-long pods for its bunkroom guests.

Alpe: “When we first looked at putting bunks into the rooms, we asked our customers, ‘what do you like and what you hate about the traditional dorm beds?’

“They said four things – they hated people stealing clothing, fights over power points, people watching them while they slept and being told when to go to bed because the lights were going out.”

Inspired by pod hotels in Japan, Jucy Group’s designed pods that have their own USB ports, lights and roller blinds.

“It gives you more space but the biggest thing it gives you is privacy,” Alpe says.

Queenstown’s Jucy Snooze will have 24 bunk rooms with eight pods each and 36 hotel-style rooms.

The backpackers is taking bookings from July 1.

“It will be slightly dearer than a normal bunk bed, but not overly,” Alpe says.

His company’s spending more than $2 million on the fit-out, he reveals. He also hails the design by JCY Architects’ Queenstown office.

“At this stage we’re scheduled to be completed by the end of February/start of March.

“Opening-wise, we’ll be a little bit after that.”

Cooking facilities will sit on the second floor.

There’ll be a bar, restaurant and large common room on the top floor.

Alpe says: “Because it will be probably one of the tallest buildings in Queenstown, the views from there will be incredible.”

As the building’s in the Queenstown Town Centre zone, there’s no carparking requirement.

However Alpe says they’ll provide a free shuttle service from the airport.

scoop@scene.co.nz