A new low-rise development joined to a historic hotel is changing Queenstown's lakefront and its operator predicts it will command New Zealand's most expensive new hotel room rate at $10,000 a night.
Alongside Eichardt's Private Hotel directly across the road from Lake Wakatipu on Marine Pde, construction of the $6 million block is well advanced. Skyline Enterprises, which owns and operates many ventures including Queenstown's gondola, is the developer and owner of the new building.
Little is visible of that 781sq m one-storey block, still under its protective wrap during mid-winter conditions.
Andrew Cox, the Melbourne-based Kiwi owner of Eichardt, said more room was needed so he had leased space in the new building, investing about $3 million.
A new bistro will open on the ground floor, two new suites and a $10,000/night penthouse, Cox said.
"One of the most highly-valued pieces of real estate on Queenstown's waterfront will be home to the country's most expensive hotel suite, commanding up to $10,000 per night for sweeping views of Lake Wakatipu and surrounding peaks," an announcement last April said.
Retailers Louis Vuitton and World have also leased space.
Jeff Staniland, Skyline chief executive, said last April that the new building's location and the opportunity it offered was unusual.
"Queenstown is known for its forward-thinking and considered hospitality and we have been careful to reflect the history of Eichardt's in our modern design. It is exciting that this world-class hotel is a key part of our development," Staniland said.
The building was designed by Queenstown architect Michael Wyatt. Its Marine Pde facade is clad in Oamaru stone while its Church St facade will have a more weathered, exposed steel cladding.
Decks and terraces have been built on level one of the new building, designed so it does not dominate the street.
Last April's announcement said the new building would be ready early this year and that bookings for the new rooms were already being taken. Opening is not now expected for a few months.
While the new penthouse is $10,000/night, the new new lakefront suites will cost $1950/night, the announcement said.
"The expansion takes the luxury hotel's capacity to seven suites, with the 240sq m penthouse suite - plus 100sq m balcony - featuring a commercial grade kitchen primed for private chef usage, two suites each with ensuites, a sauna, spa and even a powder room with uninhibited views across the picture-perfect lake," the announcement said.
Stephen Hamilton, a director of hotel, tourism and leisure consultants Horwath HLT based in Auckland, said $10,000/night would make the new penthouse the country's most expensive.
"Charging $10,000/night doesn't mean they will necessarily sell it every night at that rate," he said of the Queenstown penthouse "but that's the asking price. The smaller, the more boutique, exclusive and premium the location, the more likely is that they'll sell that room each night at that rate as opposed to say 30 rooms. We're talking about the very premium end of the market and waterfront, so we wouldn't be booking a domestic short break," Hamilton said.
Chris Dibble, Colliers International's research and consulting director, doubted the $10,000/night penthouse was New Zealand's most expensive.
"It's definitely up there, though. Eagles Nest - Rahimoana hits $12,995/night in summer. The Kauri Cliffs Owner's Cottage is between $10,360 and $11,320/night in summer, The Hills Lodge is $23,000 to $30,000 per night, but for guest numbers between eight and 12," Dibble said.
But Hamilton said such ventures like Eagles Nest could not be classified purely as hotels so the new penthouse did indeed set the record.
• The Hills Lodge: $23,000-$30,000 per night.
• Eagles Nest - Rahimoana: $12,995/night in summer.
• Kauri Cliffs Owner's Cottage: $10,360-$11,320/night in summer.
• New Queenstown hotel block: up to $10,000/night.
Source: Colliers International