As confidence grows in the outlook for travel and tourism, the second part of a nearly 500-room dual-hotel development in central Auckland has opened.
Holiday Inn Express Auckland City Centre is a 294-room tower with its entry off Wyndham St and is offering opening rates from $205 a night - a price it says is a 20 per cent discount on standard rates.
A joint partnership between Pro-invest Hotels and IHG Hotels & Resorts, the hotel is part of the dual-hotel development which includes the 201-room voco Auckland City Centre, which opened this month.
The 38-level tower housing the hotel rises 153m above the city with two distinct platforms – one each for voco and Holiday Inn Express.
Pro-invest area manager Fraser McKenzie describes voco as a lifestyle brand that provides for an "unstuffy guest interaction" with staff for business or leisure travel in an inner-city hotel.
"Complemented by the mid-upscale Holiday Inn Express with its practical comfort and inner-city tower vibe, the hotels have a combined back of house infrastructure and leadership team."
He said with borders now reopening, there had been a surge in domestic business travellers getting in ahead of the rebuilding international market.
Small to medium-sized meeting space was in demand.
"The demand is evident in the uplift in larger events in the fourth quarter in Auckland with concerts and exhibitions building in November."
Pro-invest Hotels is a hotel management company in Australia and New Zealand that works with giant hotel operators such as IHG Hotels & Resorts and Accor,
Last year IHG described Holiday Inn Express as its growth engine and it has 3000 properties around the world with more than 300,000 rooms in 2100 cities. With nearly 650 properties expected to open in the coming years, Holiday Inn Express accounts for more than a third of IHG's global pipeline.
Shantha de Silva, chief operating officer of Pro-invest Hotels, said 2022 had been a year of firsts for the company in Auckland and the opening of the hotel tower marked a major milestone.
"We were the first to bring the voco brand to New Zealand and the first to bring Holiday Inn Express to the country with our Queenstown property. Now, with quarantine-free travel returning to New Zealand, we look forward to welcoming travellers to Auckland."
The two properties work in tandem, with voco's Bar Albert on level 38 billed as the city's highest rooftop bar. The bar, with views to Whangaparāoa and across to the Coromandel Peninsula, will open in early August.
Stephen Hamilton from research firm Horwath HTL said the dual-brand strategy on one site made sense.
"It's a good way of reaching a broader market while sharing costs and synergies between the two hotels."
Another example of this were the Novotel and Ibis at Greenlane.
When voco opened, de Silva said it signified the increasing demand for new accommodation in Auckland.
"We're thrilled to be opening the first voco property in New Zealand and believe it's a positive sign of the travel industry regaining momentum. It also highlights Pro-invest Hotels' significant growth with several new hotels opening in the next two months," de Silva said.
Across its five Australia and New Zealand locations, voco has introduced a fleet of handcrafted bamboo bikes for guests to use free of charge, as well as a "Tread Lightly" travel guide created with science communicator, environmentalist and model Laura Wells that shares tips for eco-conscious travellers.
A OnePoll survey done for IHG last year revealed that more than 69 per cent of young adults (aged 18-24) around the world strive to be more environmentally and socially conscious on their travels.
Hotel room rates have been suppressed during the pandemic, and Hamilton said the hotels would add more capacity at a time when more MIQ hotels were returning to the market.
However, Auckland was still the gateway for about 90 per cent of visitors to New Zealand and this would create demand as tourist numbers built this year. He said the use of motels by the Ministry of Social Development could mean more domestic travellers used hotels, further boosting demand.