Luxury life - with a great view

By Colin Taylor

Manor Views was built as a maternity hospital, but is now a luxury hotel and conference centre.
Manor Views was built as a maternity hospital, but is now a luxury hotel and conference centre.

A magnificent brick complex built as a maternity hospital in 1926 and recently restored as the Manor Views luxury hotel and conference centre is on the market.

It is in the Waikato town of Huntly, a 40-minute drive south of Auckland and 15 minutes from Hamilton.

The 4494sq m freehold estate at 24 Upland Rd, Waterview Heights, is on a prime hilltop position high above Huntly with panoramic views, and is being offered for sale for $1.7 million by Reg and Gena Adam of Mike Pero Real Estate, Manukau. It had a registered valuation of $3.1 million in 2008.

"This property, which includes a restaurant and cafe, offers the perfect blend of history, luxury and tranquillity in a paradise setting," says Reg Adam.

"It is a spectacular location for weddings, anniversaries, seminars, corporate retreats and other events. Its views over three lakes and the Waikato River are simply breath-taking."

Adam says more than 20,000 babies were born in the building during the 70 years when it was a maternity and general hospital.

The building was extended during World War II before Health Waikato moved the maternity care services to Hamilton and the property was bought by Birthcare Auckland.

"It was in need of renovation when the current owners, Brent and Joanna Aplin, acquired it and they have lovingly restored this 1327sq m grand building to its former splendour as an impressive local landmark within manicured grounds," Adam says.

"Typical of the structures of the 1920s, it was built to last with solid brick exterior walls and iron roofing." Adam says the renovations, including replacement of all the plumbing and the electrical services, took the Aplins seven years to complete.

"It was a labour of love by this couple who had a vision for the property and who remained true to the character, grand design and architecture of this great building. The final result is a testament to what they have achieved."

Having completed their project, the Aplins now want to travel and participate in volunteer work.

The Manor Views hotel accommodation comprises 14 bedrooms. Eleven downstairs include two super luxury suites, two luxury suites, five standard rooms and two family rooms with a one bedroom, one bathroom and one lounge/bedroom combination.

All rooms have en suites.

"These rooms are very popular with large organisations including the Huntly power station, which is a major employer in the region," Adam says.

Facilities that appeal to business guests include wifi, broadband and internet technology throughout the building, big screen TVs, DVD players - with a range of DVDs - Sky TV channels, data projectors and data screens. The front desk is staffed 24/7.

The suites have luxury bedding and the building's double-brick walls ensure privacy and a peaceful night's sleep.

The top three "honeymoon" suites of the hotel are described as "luxurious and 4.5 star" in their presentation and have either a large spa bath or a double jet shower.

"These rooms are very popular with couples who are on their honeymoon or who simply book in for a romantic weekend," Adam says.

The manager's quarters consist of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a lounge.

The conference room occupies the main lounge, and catering is done in the adjoining Old Hospital Cafe.

"Meals are prepared in a huge kitchen with large commercial oven and stainless steel benches which would be an asset in any fine dining restaurant," Adam says.

Lunches and dinners in the Old Hospital Cafe can be booked at any time. The hotel can cater for up to 55 people for a sit-down buffet meal, or up to 150 people for an afternoon tea or garden wedding.

The hotel has a late licence to operate four nights a week until 10pm and up to 5.30pm on the other three days. In-house guests can enjoy full bar facilities as required.

"The complex has ample parking for guests with easy accessibility to their individual suites," Adam says. "A feature of the property is its landscaped setting with manicured lawns, a large centrepiece date palm and tidy hedges complemented by white roses lining the driveway."

Manor Views promotes itself on its website as supporting responsible tourism and sustainable business initiatives: "Good environmental management is important to us. We recognise that the operation of Manor Views has an ongoing impact upon the environment, and therefore have made a commitment to regularly review this. As a company, we have implemented nearly 100 sustainable business initiatives."

Adam says annual occupancy has reached 80 per cent and this could be increased by more effective marketing and promotion.

He says the property is likely to particularly interest boutique hotel operators as a going concern business.

It would also attract wedding and special event management firms. One inquiry has been received from a hotel company in Singapore and several have come from wedding-related companies.

"Some impressive weddings have taken place at Manor Views where the plush lawns, gardens and gazebo provide an exquisite backdrop for marriage services and photography. The facilities enable the wedding parties and guests to book all the rooms and stay overnight in-house relieving them of concerns about drink-driving after the celebrations."

For couples wanting the indoor venue option, up to 80 people can be seated for an intimate wedding service within a classical setting on polished heart matai wooden floors complemented by chandeliers.

Manor Views offers "romantic packages" which include candlelit dinners for two served in the conservatory, therapeutic massages, fresh flowers in rooms, wines, chocolates and rose petal soap for the double spa baths and hampers for lakeside picnics nearby.

Adam says inquiries have been received from owners of million dollar properties in Auckland and from representatives of a large extended family group looking to purchase the property as private residence.

"And it is the type of stately mansion within a rural setting and an easy drive from Auckland that could attract millionaire buyers."

There has also been an approach from a local iwi representative.

"It would be fantastic if the tangata whenua were able to acquire this historic landmark," he says.

"The building has great significance for Waikato with a good number of the 20,000 births being babies of Maori ancestry."

- NZ Herald

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