Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Troubled hotel gets upgrade and new lease of life

Celebrations are being held tonight to mark the opening of a new Sofitel hotel, once the Westin, in Auckland.

In September, the world's largest hotel chain, Accor, bought the management and said it would rebrand the 173-room waterfront hotel as a Sofitel, initially branding it under its MGallery range.

After Westin, the building traded as Hotel Lighter Quay.

The property has had a troubled past, after disputes between the previous management and investors who own rooms. Most of the hotel has been closed for more than a year.

Peter Hook, Accor's communications manager, said the entire interior of the hotel had been painted and a new restaurant would open with a new chef from Millbrook near Queenstown.

Many rooms were being upgraded and a spa was being added, he said.

The head of Sofitel for Asia Pacific, Markland Blaiklock, will be at the launch. The hotel was originally developed by now-bankrupt Nigel McKenna via his Melview Developments.

New signs have gone up but the hotel will not trade as a Sofitel until after the launch, Hook said. The restaurant has been renamed Lava Dining and the champagne bar Sabrage.

Interiors are by Stewart Harris who designed the Sofitel Queenstown's suites and new-look Sofitel-style rooms will be available for guests in the next six months.

- NZ Herald

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