Ormlie Lodge closes doors

By news@hbtoday.co.nz

One of Hawke's Bay's most historic and luxurious conference and wedding venues, Ormlie Lodge off Omarunui Rd near Taradale, has closed its doors.

The property, estimated to be worth around $3 million, has been on the market since March.

Temporary manager Andrew Stenberg said owner John Ferguson was unwell and unable to carry on with the business, which shut its doors on Monday. "The whole focus has changed due to his ill health," Mr Stenberg said. "We're both very sad about it but we're also relieved because it's time to accept the situation and move on.

"This wonderful place has spent half its life as a hospitality venue - its spirit will live on".

Asked how the closure would affect weddings or functions already booked, he said such bookings had been "scant" since the property was listed for sale earlier this year.

In its overview of the property, Harcourts stated - "the current owners fell in love with this grand property as soon as they saw it 13 years ago and have established the venue as it is today.

Sadly circumstances have changed and it is time this grand old lady had someone new to take care of her for the next period in her 100 plus years".

It went on the market as a freehold going concern.

The historic lodge was bought by partners John Ferguson and Mark Bartlett in 1999.

Their first step was to re-open the restaurant under the name 'The Grande Villa' and from there took on an ambitious restoration project of the 114-year-old building.

In 2004 Mr Ferguson, who has more than 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, bought out Mr Bartlett's interest in the lodge, although they continued to manage it together.

Ormlie Lodge, set in 2ha of landscaped gardens and mature trees, was built in 1899 by William Nelson as a wedding present to his daughter Gertrude who married Hector Smith.

The Smiths were forced to move out for two years as repairs were carried out after it was badly damaged in the 1931 earthquake and after returning there for the rest of their lives.

Gertrude Smith died in 1955 and Mr Smith stayed there for another seven years until he sold it just before his death at the age of 93.

The lodge has had several owners since and became a private hotel, while the old stables were renovated to become Stables Restaurant.

The restaurant was destroyed by fire in 1985 and was not rebuilt. The main lodge escaped fire damage.

Soon afterwards Ormlie was bought by Don and Alma Kale and was refurbished back to its original state. A feature of the two-storied lodge, which has six large suites and verandah balconies, was the construction of a luxurious ballroom which became a venue for conferences and weddings staged there.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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