New boutique hotel on sweet spot

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A long-time Queenstowner plans a $10 million high-tech boutique hotel to fill a gap in the middle of the market. 

Lew Gdanitz’s company Kelso Investments today lodged a consent application for a 54-room hotel on Henry Street in central Queenstown. 

The proposed glass and concrete building, designed by prominent Arrowtown architect John Blair, occupies five levels. 

It fully complies with the town centre zone, Gdanitz says, and had an “excellent reception” from Queenstown Lakes District Council’s urban design panel. 

“I’m trying to create something that is affordable luxury.” 

He says the concept stems from his extensive overseas travels in the past 15 years. 

Gdanitz argues that visitor accommodation built in Queenstown over the past decade doesn’t cater for the mid-market – “Too much accommodation that’s been developed has either been $25 a night or $450”. 

The proliferation of downtown backpackers has cheapened Queenstown and done little for the local economy, he maintains. 

At the other extreme, new five-star hotels and boutique lodges are beyond most people’s budgets, he says. 

Apartments have sprung up on the outskirts of town but Gdanitz says many visitors prefer to stay within walking distance of the CBD. 

Tour hotels frequently drop room rates to boost occupancy, he notes, but they can’t afford to do this on a sustained basis. 

“I’m trying to give people an experience they haven’t had before.” 

He proposes building smaller rooms than hotels normally have – “people don’t spend much time in their hotels in Queenstown”. 

Rooms would have the latest TV technology, WiFi, makeup tables, ironing boards and unique bathrooms. 

“There’ll be lots of LED atmospheric lighting – when you book online, you could choose your favourite colour and that will come on when you put your card in the door.” 

Seasonal soft lighting will also be used in reception. 

Gdanitz adds there will also be “eco-features” to make the property energy-efficient. 

His proposed hotel could be open towards the end of next year, he says. 

“I see it as something that I’ll be heavily involved in because I want to develop this market. 

“We’re trying to fill what we see as a niche market in Queenstown that’s not being filled at the moment. 

“I believe it could be a Queenstown icon we can all be proud of. 

“For years I think we’ve been misguided in targeting the budget market.” 

He intends keeping the hotel’s name under wraps till he gains resource consent. 

A local resident for 40 years, Gdanitz is a former building contractor whose projects included the first stage of Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort, Queenstown’s Salvation Army building and Rydges and Coronet Peak Hotel extensions. 

The Henry St site, currently with an old house on it, is one of several downtown properties he owns.