Hotel du Vin and spa up for sale

By Colin Taylor

Hotel du Vin, nestled in 15ha of vineyards and manicured gardens over the Bombay Hills from Auckland in the Mangatawhiri Valley, has been put up for sale.

Just 45 minutes south of Auckland, the hotel is at the end of Lyons Rd, 5km off State Highway 2 at Pokeno.

The 48-room property is rated as a four-star-plus boutique hotel that includes the Spa du Vin.

The hotel and spa lie in a valley alongside a meandering stream, surrounded by moderate-to-steep hills clad in native bush and farm land giving it complete privacy and shelter.

The iconic hotel is renowned for its leisure breaks, conference facilities and recently completed Balinese-style luxury spa. Its regular conference client list is a who's who in New Zealand industry and commerce.

Colliers International is selling the hotel by international tender closing April 5. Sales brokers, Philip Toogood, Bryan Richardson and Roger Seavill say it will appeal to a wide cross-section of the market, including hotel owner-operators and hotel investors who can introduce a strong local or international brand.

It will also appeal to developers because of the opportunity to expand.

The hotel is being sold as a freehold going concern, plus land and buildings, together with resource consent from the Franklin District Council for 37 new, two-bedroom, twin-key villas.

Toogood says one of the challenges for New Zealand tourism is the provision of consistently high quality accommodation which appeals to demanding international visitors.

Given its proximity to Auckland City and Auckland Airport, Hotel du Vin is in the perfect spot for international and local companies with hotels and resorts in other key New Zealand destinations.

American entrepreneur Ed Aster, who owns the property through Leeward Investments, is selling to concentrate on his wine exporting business and a 10 per cent interest in The Warehouse wine business.

In 2001, Aster made a spur-of-the moment purchase of the Hotel Du Vin and an ancillary wine business when on holiday in New Zealand. He then established the luxury Spa Du Vin Health and Wellness Centre.

As part of the resource consent, a new owner will be required to convert the existing 48 rooms within 12 chalets set in lush gardens into single-key two-bedroom super luxury lodges, bringing the total number of keys in the hotel to 86. It gives a new owner huge potential for growth, says Toogood.

There is the possibility of obtaining resource consent later to subdivide and sell the units. However, this is by no means a certainty.

The newly renovated 100 seat restaurant with outdoor terraces area and guest lounge and bar was added to the hotel in 1997. A year ago the $2 million Spa du Vin complex was established in the former winery, an attractive river stone and cedar building. The spa complex includes eight luxury treatment rooms, steam rooms, beauty area and cardio gym and is attracting an increasing number of day visitors from Auckland as well as hotel guests.

The global spa and wellness industry is growing rapidly and New Zealand is no exception, with men becoming increasingly significant as regular clients, says Richardson. What was once a "special treat occasion" is now more a part of regular wellbeing.

There are an estimated 12,100 spas in the US and 2100 in Canada. Approximately 136 million spa visits were made in North America two years ago. Sixty-per cent of these were to day spas while 27 per cent were to resort/hotel spas. The US spa industry generated an estimated US$11.2 billion in revenues two years ago and it is still growing.

Accompanying Spa du Vin's facilities is a building that contains a 149sq m heated swimming pool, two spa pools and games room. In addition there is administrative and transitional staff accommodation, extensive maintenance workshops, a separate laundry and a water treatment and sewage plant with capacity for the approved future development.

Guests are offered extensive recreation facilities, including three Astroturf tennis courts with night lighting, croquet, petanque, a fitness trail, volleyball and bicycles and organised activities, such as clay bird shooting, archery, wine tasting, horse riding and bush walks.

The hotel's winegrowing operation was moved to Marlborough and the vineyard is no longer used for producing wine. However, the grapes are sold commercially and the vines provide a pleasant and relaxing ambience. Toogood says the 10ha of pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc grapes could potentially be directed to the production of a boutique label.

On site are comprehensive conference and meeting facilities for up to 300 people. There are eight areas of varying capacity, including three newly completed state of-the-art conference and board rooms.

The property is bounded and divided in part by the Mangatawhiri Stream. To the north and west of the property is the western fringe of the large watershed catchment region for Auckland City. The land is generally flat terrace but runs to easy undulating parts above the stream.

All the buildings are on the level contoured land to the west and north side of the stream. A concrete bridge was built in 1990 to a safe level above the Mangatawhiri Stream.

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