Auckland's biggest hotel-building boom will see six new CBD properties worth $1 billion-plus opening shortly amid the global tourism downturn, bringing an extra 900 rooms to the city.
Dean Humphries, Colliers International's director of hotels for New Zealand and the South Pacific, said the largest number of new hotels built simultaneously in the city at any one time would result in the six opening between August and October.
But who will stay in those approximately 900 new rooms with the global travel lockdown, closed borders, quarantine and flight restrictions?
"It's not disastrous but timing is unfortunate. These were planned years ago but once Covid runs its course in six, 12 or 18 months, demand is going to pick up again," Humphries predicted.
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The six hotels due to open shortly are:
• The new-build 194-room Sudima on the Wellesley/Nelson St corner by Hind Management;
• The new-build five-star waterfront 190-room $300m Park Hyatt, Halsey St on ex-Team NZ sailing base by China's Fu Wah;
• Travelodge Wynyard, a 154-room property advertising its opening date as October;
• QT Auckland, a 150-room hotel opening in a former Viaduct Harbour office building;
• The 104-room Hotel Britomart near the waterfront by Peter Cooper's Cooper and Company;
• The Mercure Auckland Queen Street, a 96-room hotel spanning eight stories in an existing building.
Humphries said it won't be till 2022 that a seventh huge hotel - the 303-room five-star Horizon between Hobson St and Nelson St by SkyCity Entertainment Group - is due to open.
"These six new hotels opening soon in Auckland were scheduled to open around the same time as the NZ International Convention Centre, next year's America's Cup and all the events planned for 2021. These were planned two to four years ago or more and that's the reason they're all due to come onstream soon."
The hotels' owners and operators were in the sector for the long term.
"The timing is unfortunate but those owners all understand the value of the hotel is not based on six to 12 month's cash flow", he said, referring instead to years and sometimes decades of investment.
The most luxurious and expensive of the six is the new Park Hyatt by Fu Wah, founded by one of China's richest women, Madam Chan Laiwa. At the 2016 ground-breaking ceremony she attended with then-Prime Minister Sir John Key, the Herald reported how the hotel's completion was expected in 2018. But that project initially put at $200m took two years longer than first thought. Around 200 tradespeople from China were controversially brought to this project to finish it.
Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala, Hind's founder and chief executive, said of the new Sudima: "We are opening the Nelson St hotel in early November. The crane goes off-site soon. Business will depend largely on when the borders open, firstly the transtasman bubble and then the international borders."
He expects some business from America's Cup, the Women's Cricket World Cup and domestic travel. He expressed delight in New Zealand and Australia hosting the Women's Football World Cup 2023.
"Our investment strategy has always been long term so we just need to batten down till business picks up again. New Zealand is seen as a safe destination and I have a feeling that tourism will recover faster than expected," Jhunjhnuwala said.
Jhunjhnuwala said the area around his new hotel had been extensively developed in recent years and is now a hub for hospitality, entertainment, events and major conferences, "so we are looking forward to introducing a new accommodation choice for leisure and corporate travellers who want a high level of service and comfort in a hotel with a focus on sustainability and social responsibility".
Matthew Cockram of Cooper and Company said The Hotel Britomart will open in October. That new 10-level building in the Britomart precinct completes the company's long-held ambition to add tourism accommodation to the mix of dining, entertainment, retail and commercial uses.
Colliers International's May research report on hotels says Covid-19 will have an impact on the future supply pipeline throughout the country.
"Currently 27 hotels are under construction with about 4200 rooms, with most of these projects located in Auckland and Queenstown," the report said.
"The majority of these developments will be completed, although most will face a delay in the order of three to six months. A number of projects will elect to stage their opening as demand recovers with a small number seeking deferment until they have a better understanding of how we emerge from the pandemic."
The 244-room InterContinental Hotel at Commercial Bay in Auckland has been put on hold, as has the 146 room Mercure Hotel at Auckland Airport.