One of Tauranga's oldest hotels has reached more milestones in its quest to bring the 50-year-old building "back to life".
A special Māori carving representing the three iwi of Tauranga Moana has been restored and replaced at the entrance to Tauranga's Hotel Armitage and Conference Centre.
The carving was blessed by kaumatua Tamati Tata at a special ceremony on Friday May 28, marking the completion of the hotel's porte cochere and exterior entranceway.
Prime Hotels Group general manager Nicolas Caffardo said it was great to see the six-month project completed.
"It feels good to be able to open the entrance again to the public, and there is more to come."
The Willow St hotel has spent more than $200,000 renovating its conference facilities, guest rooms, pool, and restaurant in the face of the Covid-19 lockdown.
"We still have work to do on the inside, including the lobby and the bar. We're planning to continue working on the exterior," Caffardo said.
"We believe this will really enhance the look of the building and will attract more people from the outside."
Caffardo said they had also just obtained resource consent to extend the footprint and open the hotel up to Willow St through a new bar and restaurant.
"That is something we're very excited about.
"We believe this will attract more people ... We intend to run it as a sole independent restaurant."
He said they had poured a lot of time, love and money renovating the hotel, which had been in Tauranga for 50 years.
"We've always had a lot of positive feedback from the community who have had connections with this hotel over the years whether it was for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings.
"I think having that support gave us the confidence we could bring it back to life."
Morley Powell was responsible for restoring Tuti Tukaokao's carving, which was now back above the hotel entranceway.
Powell said the carving represented the three iwi in the area: Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga.
"What I did was repair and bring back to life the carving. It may be another 50 years before it has to be done again."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce events and sponsorship manager Anne Pankhurst said it had been "an amazing journey" for the Armitage.
Pankhurst said it was "very special" to be part of yet another milestone for the hotel, especially the blessing of the carving.
"It is very special and speaks to the region. We congratulate the work they are doing."
She said it was a "test of resilience" in a market that has had its "ups and downs".
"This new look is speaking to the new city, not looking back."
Tourism Bay of Plenty acting chief executive said it was "fantastic" to see the hotel invest in renovations and expansion, especially given its long history in the city and the challenges of the past 12 months.
"Here in Tauranga and across the Te Moananui ā Toi | The Coastal Bay of Plenty we are extremely fortunate to have resilient operators, like Hotel Armitage, who continue to innovate and invest in what they do and offer our manuhiri.
"Having that level of commitment is not only encouraging but heartening for all of us who work hard to make our place all it can be."