Rotorua should be celebrating the announcement that the city's first five-star hotel will be managed by top hotel chain AccorHotels, according to industry officials and a local developer.

Chow Group Management Limited announced this morning it had awarded the hotel management contract for their Rotorua property in the former Zen Building on Arawa St to Accor, and is aiming to open at the end of next year or the start of 2019.

AccorHotels already operates two other hotels in Rotorua, Novotel and ibis.

Currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment from a commercial building to a 130-room hotel, the property will be 500m from Lake Rotorua and will carry a five-star brand.


The developers said the new hotel would enhance Rotorua's tourism offering.

Chow Group Management director John Chow said the renovation of the former Zen Building had started with architectural plans and the next stage was the physical work, which would start in July.

"We are delighted to be able to announce the appointment of AccorHotels," he said.

The Rotorua Daily Post asked whether the hotel would be under the chain's five-star brand, Sofitel, but a spokeswoman was unable to confirm.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick with Chow Group Management Ltd director John Chow outside the Zen Building.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick with Chow Group Management Ltd director John Chow outside the Zen Building.

Meanwhile, Mr Chow said this project had already had a positive effect on the local economy in terms of employment.

"The entire project will create a pipeline of work opportunities from the refurbishment works stage on site, through to providing hospitality roles and ongoing employment.

"I believe the addition of a five-star upscale hotel to the Rotorua tourism offering will be received well by local residents and visitors alike."

He said tourism in Rotorua was valued at $772 million a year with $402 million of that coming from domestic visitors.

"The Rotorua hotel property will be ideally positioned both in terms of location but also hospitality offering to take a slice of the 2.2 million visitor nights spent in the destination." he said.

In selecting AccorHotels, Mr Chow said they were the preferred partner based on several criteria including sales and global distribution network, customer focus, loyalty programme, and a proven footprint in New Zealand.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said business sectors such as retail and tourism were doing extremely well in Rotorua, with the local economy performing above the national average.

"Rotorua is growing and thriving. Our population now exceeds 70,000 and continues to grow and unemployment is dropping. It's important that we continue to build on these positive achievements and projects such as the Chow Group's new upscale hotel are critical to our success, improving our tourism infrastructure and creating work opportunities." she said.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said Rotorua should be celebrating the fact it will get a new five-star hotel.

"It's very pleasing to see this announcement as it was some time ago the Chow Group acquired the Zen Building and these developments sometimes do not come through.

"With Accor we know it will be a quality product and they are the largest provider of hotel accommodation in New Zealand.

"It is something Rotorua should be celebrating and a five-star development is in the sweet spot for Rotorua ... the city does have space in the market for a five-star hotel alongside your boutique accommodation products serving the very high end of the market," Mr Roberts said.

Pukeroa Oruawhata general manager Peter Faulkner said the company, which is working on a lakeside spa and hotel development on its lakefront land, said the development would benefit all of Rotorua.

"A hotel is on our radar and is likely to be built closer to 2021, so we have plenty of time to work though some issues with QE Hospital and planning and consent exercises.

"It's still in its early stages," he said.

"It's a question of increasing the overall capacity in Rotorua, which is working in the favour of our existing operators at the moment ... and having a greater depth of capacity across the sector will be good for the town."