Points of difference

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Developers to open $450-a-night hotel in Arrowtown

Dare to be different is the motto of property developers aiming to shake up Arrowtown accommodation.

Tim and Karen Hemingway open the five-room $3.5 million first stage of their Arrow Private Hotel next month.
As they bed their business in, they’ll increase the number of rooms to 21, making it Arrowtown’s biggest accommo­dation complex aside from Millbrook.

Tim Hemingway has developed residential property, mainly in Auckland, since graduating in electrical engineering from Canterbury University.

His first project in the Wakatipu was a boutique subdivision carved out of a four-hectare quarry in Speargrass Flat Road.

There he built and sold off four $2m-$2.5m homes designed by recognised local architect John Blair.

But rather than carve up 6000sq m of land in Arrowtown’s Manse Road bought in 2003, the Hemingways have plumped for a funky hotel.

The property has an unlisted turn-of-the-century schist stone cottage that will become a meeting point for guests.
For the rest of the hotel, Hemingway says he deliberately avoided the colonial look of other Arrowtown accommodation, creating something contemporary instead.

About 15 neighbours ticked off the plans, meaning the development could be consented non-notified.

The hotel units, designed by Justin Wright of Assembly Architecture in Wellington, feature concrete panels in a shingle design with glass and black timber on the outside.

Interiors have polished concrete floors, and bathrooms with glass sliders become part of the bedroom – you can lie in the bath and watch TV.

The bathrooms themselves have double vanities and double showers.

After talking to other lodge operators, Hemingway says he believes the luxury bathrooms are a key to commanding higher tariffs – he’s aiming at $350-$450 a night.

Another novelty is that fixtures such as flax baskets and custom-made furniture in rooms will all be available for guests to buy if they wish, as is normal in other boutique hotels around the world.

Hemingway might be new to tourism but he says he’s had considerable experience as a customer travelling the world when working for internet supplier Cisco Systems.

Corporate travellers are looking for alternatives to large-chain hotels, he says.

“A lot of people are entrenched in the way hotels operate but in my internet background I was used to challenging everything.”

Hemingway thinks the expansion of golf courses in the Wakatipu – the next one at Gibbston will be the sixth 18-holer here – is a key to unlocking the corporate market.

“They talk about six courses being the magic number so the boys can get away from the missus for a week and play a different one every day.”

His guests will be directed to local restaurants, which will also supply breakfasts and hampers.

Arrowtown accommodation operators need to lift their act, Hemingway adds.

Too many close for part of the year while “a lot of the product is really at the end of its useful life”, he says.