The QT Auckland hotel is working towards opening this year, despite Covid-19 dealing a giant blow to the accommodation sector.
The 150-room and suite hotel is in a converted Viaduct Harbour office building. Although there was some construction disruption during lockdown, the hotel today announced it was accepting bookings from November 1.
The QT Auckland will have a signature dining concept in collaboration with international chef Sean Connolly and a rooftop bar with sweeping views.
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Opening room rates are from $329 for the hotel, which promotes itself as offering "quirky luxury".
General manager of QT Auckland, Doron Whaite, said despite the "unprecedented challenge" of the pandemic, he was excited about the group's first foray into Auckland.
"Navigating uncharted territory meant we needed to remain flexible and agile, like many other businesses and industries. Construction of the hotel was well underway, and the team has not stopped planning and preparing for our launch."
The company has hotels in Queenstown and Wellington, in what was the Museum Hotel near Te Papa.
The Auckland project is being developed by parent company Event Hospitality and
Entertainment, in conjunction with Russell Property Group and Lockwood Property Group.
The Australia-based parent company also operates Rydges hotels and the Event cinema chain.
Whaite said the philosophy behind each QT is to "expect the unexpected".
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The hotel would feature unpredictable twists in art and design, throughout the dining outlets, and would deliver highly-personalised signature service to each guest.
"Channelling the local neighbourhood while adding QT's luxuriously quirky design, it's unlike anything the Auckland hotel market has seen before."
With borders likely to be closed for some time, Whaite said he was "thrilled" that Kiwis will be the first to experience QT Auckland.
A spokeswoman said because opening was later in the year, the question of whether the hotel could be used to isolate returning Kiwis had not been considered. A separate wing of the QT Wellington has been used by Avatar film makers who were deemed essential workers and are paying for their isolation.
The QT announcement follows the release of a NZ Hotel Market Sentiment Survey by Horwath HTL and Tourism Industry Aotearoa, to examine how the pandemic is affecting the industry's outlook.
The survey of 110 hoteliers was carried out between June 23 and 29 (before this week's announcement that the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit will be hosted virtually. The first survey was conducted in early May.
The survey found that 11 per cent of respondent hotels are fully closed, 14 per cent are partially operational and 68 per cent are fully operational (up from 20 per cent in May). Seven per cent of hotels are operating as Government-controlled isolation or quarantine facilities.
Overall hotel business confidence has dropped from negative 64 per cent in May to negative 72 per cent. About 45 per cent of hoteliers across the country expect to have negative cashflow this year.
"It is interesting to note that while overall business confidence has dropped, the severity of the negative sentiment appears to have moderated. In other words, more people are feeling negative about the outlook, but the outlook is not as strongly negative as previously thought," says Horwath HTL director Wim Ruepert.
Many believed the Government needed to do more to support the hotel sector.
"In particular, they want to see more stimulation of domestic travel (85 per cent), and 50 per cent say the borders to Australia must be opened by September at the latest if [the hotels] are to remain open for the next 12 months," said TIA hotel sector manager Sally Attfield.
Anticipation of the transtasman bubble means the outlook for total loss of employment in the hotel sector was a little less severe than it was in May, with the average loss of employment now expected to be approximately 50 per cent, down from 56 per cent in May.
"The Government wage subsidy has helped protect some jobs but hoteliers, along with other tourism operators, need to know as soon as possible whether that will be extended so they can plan their workforce needs," Attfield said.