Hilton Auckland has been fielding inquiries from groups heading here for the America's Cup participants and Apec planners as it opens a new top floor of suites and rooms in what used to be one of the country's most expensive apartments.
The hotel has just opened 21 rooms and suites, including one ''bow suite'' designed in the shape of a luxury cruise liner and is available for close to $1000 a night.
The refurbished Level 8 floor offers has views of the surrounding harbour and cityscape, and although this winter has been quieter than last year as the tourism boom cools, the Hilton says it is confident of a pick-up over summer and the run-up to 2021 when Auckland hosts two mega events.
The rooms are in the remodelled floor of what was once an apartment promoted as the country's biggest and most expensive apartment - once with an asking price of $10 million.
The 911sq m apartment was once owned by failed property developer and one-time rich lister, David Henderson. In 2014 it was sold for just $900,000 in a mortgagee sale.
The Hilton site is owned by Singapore-based M&L Hospitality, and there have been 837,999 night stays and 1,201,289 total guests since the hotel opened in 2001.
Hilton Auckland commissioned Chada, an interior architecture practice specialising in the hotel and leisure industries in Australia and Pacific Rim, to take on the refurbishment. Suites range up to 65sq m in size.
Hilton Auckland's general manager, Adrian Teh, said the new Level 8 rooms and suites reflected Hilton Auckland's ambition to grow with Auckland City as it becomes a desired global destination.
"The previous Level 8 apartment space had been vacant for several years so we took the initiative to utilise this prime real estate within Auckland's CBD to create new opportunities for our property.''
The new floor opens as a New Zealand market report by Horwath HTL out last month says the hotel industry had experienced a significant period of growth in revenue and profitability, but the outlook for further improvement in 2019 and beyond was uncertain.
In Auckland the average room rate had fallen in the year to April, down from $195 to $193 a night.
Auckland also has a large pipeline of new hotels with 13 new ones - totalling 1522 rooms - due to open in the next two years. This is a 16 per cent increase in supply and 53 per cent of them will be 5-star.
Stephen Hamilton, managing director of Horwath HTL said there was an increase of 40 per cent in room supply which will open in Auckland by 2024 (including 16 per cent by 2020).
In Queenstown, Horwath forecasts a 72 per cent increase by 2024 (including 13 per cent by 2020), however it is possible that some of that supply by 2024 may be deferred.
''Given that all of the new projects under construction were planned prior to the current slowdown it is likely that, when they open, the market demand conditions will be softer than previously expected.''
This could result in softer than previously forecast room rates.
However, the new upper-upscale and luxury properties (4.5 star to 5 star), and especially those that are well located - close to demand drivers, waterfront views - should be able to attract demand from existing properties and continue to achieve relatively strong room rates.