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Leaky hotel shuts best rooms

By Anne Gibson

The Hilton says guests cannot be expected to look out on workers as they fix the problem. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The Hilton says guests cannot be expected to look out on workers as they fix the problem. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Guests have been barred from rooms at one of New Zealand's top hotels until big leak repairs are finished.

The $570-a-night Hilton Auckland on Princes Wharf needs fixing to stop water penetrating walls.

Exploratory work revealed issues with the exterior that have resulted in years of investigations and reports.

The neighbouring Shed 24 on the western wharf tip is also suffering serious leaks. Apartments there fetch $1 million-plus.

A report by architect John Sinclair even questioned the structural integrity of the leaky 10-year-old wharf buildings and recommended an engineer investigate. He said he saw no evidence of structural "degradation", however, but could not rule that out.

The Hilton's repair job has been going on for weeks and part of the hotel's prow-like front is covered in scaffolding, leaving the management without continual access to rooms with some of the best views.

Hilton Auckland's general manager, Chris Partridge, this week confirmed the problems after saying last year that issues were simply repairs and maintenance.

A section of the building which copped the strongest wind and rain gusts were off-limits to guests intermittently, he said, but only about 12 rooms were affected and they could be used at times. They were on the northern tip and span the entire six levels of the hotel.

"There has been water seepage behind the cladding," Mr Partridge said. "There are a number of rooms affected."

Guests could not be expected to look out at construction workers, and noise nuisance in the repair process meant visitors had to be protected.

Dockland Holdings, associated with businessmen Kevin Podmore of Wellington and Brian Fitzgerald of Herne Bay, owns the building. Mr Podmore's half-share of Shed 21, which contains the Hilton, was transferred to St Laurence, the troubled financier unable to pay 9000 investors $250 million.

Mr Fitzgerald yesterday said "a few hundred thousand" was being spent but just as repairs and maintenance.

COSTLY PROBLEM

* Leaks close rooms at Hilton.
* Neighbouring apartments leak too.
* Questions raised over Princes Wharf.

- NZ Herald

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