Queenstown college sprawls out

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An expanding Queenstown tertiary institution is shelling out millions for more student accommodation as it grows apace.

Queenstown Resort College has snapped up 98-unit Shotover Lodge at Arthurs Point to run as student and worker accommodation.

Mountain Scene understands the private tourism/hospitality school agreed on a purchase price of about $6.5 million.

Five years ago, QRC bought the 63-room Queenstown Lodge, at Fernhill, for about $7m. It was renamed QRC Lodge and is used to house college students for their first six months or so in town.

Students normally find their own accommodation after that, but QRC chief executive Charlie Phillips tells Mountain Scene that’s getting much harder due to the resort’s rental shortage.

“Our biggest inhibiting growth factor is being able to accommodate students and provide a safe environment.”
Phillips says Shotover Lodge, providing more self-contained apartment-style living, will be offered to second-year students.

After taking over the lodge on May 1, QRC will honour forward visitor bookings till the end of the July school holidays.

Phillips says the college won’t fully occupy the lodge till about 2016, so meantime will also run it for worker accommodation for minimum one-month stays.

“We are talking to some hotels and some other big employers about giving them an allocation of rooms.

“If you’re coming here for work for three months, you don’t have to sign a lease for a year.

“Some of the language schools will send their students there, too.”

Phillips says the lodge, like the Fernhill campus, will be well-managed.

“We will screen people [for worker accommodation].

“There’s a profile of person that we’ll probably seek out – we are yet to define that but it does have to work in conjunction with the students.”

QRC bought the lodge in a deal brokered by local Colliers International tourism specialists Barry Robertson and Steve McIsaac.

Phillips says the Australian-based vendors Wendy and Anthony Tisch – who bought the lodge from the receivers of the original Stormcat Lodge in 2009 – did a great job bringing the place up to standard.

The rooms are brilliant, he says.

“They’re all 30sq m, they’ve all got their own ensuite, TV, couch, kitchenette and good heating.

“The building’s outstanding and the property’s been landscaped beautifully so there’s a nice environment.”

Phillips says providing a safe environment for about 350 young students in a big responsibility.

“We do a lot of work on their personal brands – on being focused on being good ambassadors not only for themselves but the college, so we do all we can to also provide good facilities.

“It’s important the students are provided with the best opportunity to pass, and that includes having a good living environment.”

Weekly rent, including power and WiFi, will be about $220 for singles, similar to other tertiary halls of residence, Phillips says.

Phillips is keen to dispel any notion the lodge is isolated: “It’s only nine kilometres out of town, there’s a bus service, it’s $20 in a cab.”

There are also nearby facilities like a bowling alley, restaurants, Cavells Cafe and Bar and even hot pools, he adds.

QRC founder/chairman and prominent local investor Sir Eion Edgar says the Shotover Lodge purchase is a sign of confidence.

Providing additional student accommodation, especially with Queenstown’s rental market tightening up, is important to the college’s long-term future, he adds.

QRC’s not the only tertiary institution providing student accommodation.

Southern Institute of Technology recently built a nine-unit, $3.5m complex at Remarkables Park to cater for students attending its nearby Queenstown campus.

scoop@scene.co.nz