A spa room partly lined with pink Himalayan rock salt bricks, 25m sunken outdoor infinity pool and a $10,000-plus a night presidential suite are features of New Zealand's most expensive new hotel.
Brett Sweetman, new general manager of the five-star almost-finished $300 million Park Hyatt Auckland, said the property at 99 Halsey St in the Wynyard Quarter would open on September 15.
The spa room is lined with that Himalayan product - bricks popular for their moisture-absorbing properties, Sweetman said. The pool overlooking Karanga Plaza won't be filled till the end of this month but has a weir feature to capture water which will appear to cascade over the pool's northern lip.
Room rates start at around $450/night for a 47sq m harbour suite but for the northeast presidential suite on the top, seventh-level floor, Sweetman said rates would be $10,000-plus per night.
"But it's a 245sq m suite, with its own guest elevator, an internal garden and a 130sq m balcony. We've got two reservations confirmed for that, subject to the opening of the borders," Sweetman said.
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Which begs the question: who will stay in the upmarket new hotel, given global travel's nose-dive, shut borders and our national alert level 1 anti-coronavirus status?
Sweetman acknowledges quarantiners are not targets. The pandemic persuaded the Chicago-headquartered Park Hyatt management in New Zealand to radically alter the marketing focus, from international to domestic guests.
To entice custom, the hotel is offering a $50 credit per night for guests booking before October 31 and staying before the end of this year. That credit can be spent on-site or on a room upgrade.
Sweetman said the hotel had great waterfront views of the Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter area and 195 rooms including 23 suites.
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Onemata is the hotel's signature restaurant, seating 105 people inside and 40 outdoors, facing the Lighter Basin, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening on to the waterfront walkway.
The Pantry is a more casual street-front dining/cafe opposite ASB North Wharf, accessed off Halsey St as well as through the hotel.
The Living Room is the hotel's all-day dining venue serving a-la-carte breakfast and afternoon teas on the water's edge.
The 60-seat Captain's Bar has a fireplace and will serve snacks and sharing platters and according to sales and marketing director Rachael Brown, "60 different types of rum".
The Boathouse function room also has an indoor fireplace, seats 50 people and is aimed at conferences, small weddings and the events market.
Architectural features are distinctively Kiwiana and some reflect local landmarks: as a nod to being on the ex-Emirates Team New Zealand base, a replica giant corrugated iron red door is in The Pantry; a black tank-shaped feature in the hotel's heart references the nearby Tank Farm; a 60m waka created by a team headed by Māori master carver and sculptor Lyonel Grant of Rotorua is mounted on the wall of the port cochere; tukutuku panels line guest reception and room walls; ropes encased in steel frames reflect the area's maritime links; totara pou whenua will stand as a welcome at the entrance way; and rugs are made of New Zealand wool.
Sweetman said 40 to 50 members of the public could join the health club, giving access to the pool, spa, sauna, gym and day spa areas. Numbers will be restricted so hotel guests are not crowded.
The hotel was built by Hawkins and China Construction. In 2018, around 138 Chinese tradespeople were flown in because of a local labour shortage. It was designed by Ali Reda from ar+d in Singapore with local firm Bossley Architects
The 100m x 50m building was developed and is owned by interests associated with Beijing-based Fu Wah International Group, headed by one of China's richest women Madam Chan Laiwa, who attended 2016's ground-breaking with then-Prime Minister Sir John Key.
Sweetman paid tribute to those owners: "In spite of Covid-19, we have kept all 150 employees thanks to Fu Wah and will recruit more staff when the hotel opens."
Work and Income's website shows Fu Wah New Zealand received $311,615 in wage subsidies and extensions for 27 employees.
Auckland Hotel Investments received $1.06m in wage subsidies for 152 employees and a further $684,214 extension for 146 employees.