Greg Wilson still chokes up when he talks about the final eight hours of Rotorua's SilverOaks Hotel Geyserland.

Speaking about the hotel in its heyday, about the "hangi and a concert" events, of the spectacular views over the city the hotel once commanded, you can hear the pride in his voice.

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But when he attempts to describe how he had eight hours to evacuate the buildings and tell staff they no longer had jobs, his voice quavers until it stops.


"To this day it still hurts," Wilson said. "It was hell."

On December 22, 2017, and with one building already closed while a subsidence mitigation investigation went ahead, the ground heat reached 110 per cent and engineers decided a second block had to be closed down.

"I had eight hours to essentially evacuate. Imagine not only losing your hotel but having to tell your staff, in the days before Christmas, they were being made redundant and also cancel 6500 bookings.

The hotel just after it was closed in 2017. Photo / File
The hotel just after it was closed in 2017. Photo / File

"It still makes me emotional to this day. The hotel meant a lot to us - the views from the hotel were amazing, we had so many great functions there - it was just a horrific way for the hotel to end."

The original four-storey block was constructed by the Myer family (of Lion Breweries fame) before being bought and sold twice more prior to 2000 when SilverOaks purchased it.

"The hotel also had a number of titles including the Geyserland Motor Inn, the Geyserland Hotel, the Geyserland Resort, the Regal Geyserland, the Quality Hotel Geyserland and finally Silverman's Hotel Geyserland," Wilson said.

"It was also the first commercial gym in Rotorua."

After the 2017 closure, the building fell into a state of disrepair with graffiti, broken windows and parts of the building falling apart. It attracted squatters and a complaint from neighbouring business Te Puia.

The hotel was partially demolished in 2019. Photo / File
The hotel was partially demolished in 2019. Photo / File

Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar said there had always been concerns about the state of the buildings, especially after the geothermal issues the property encountered.

"The building fell into a poor state of repair and this was not great next to Te Puia," Cossar said.

Demolition of the "low-rise" buildings on the subsiding land began in 2019 and now, for the first time in two decades, the site is being offered to the market and has been described as a development site in a spectacular geothermal location.

Wilson said the site had to be one of the best in Rotorua.

"It is the most unique sight in Rotorua. The views over Te Puia are amazing and there is a view over the golf course on the other side.

Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar. Photo / File
Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar. Photo / File

"When they put the white lights on the geyser at night time, you can't get a better view in Rotorua and guests were always quick to comment about it. Ideally, it would be great for an international hotel."

Wilson said a 150-room hotel could still be built on site atop of the land without subsidence issues and the balance could be used for car parking.

Cossar said he was sure there would be interest in the property but it wouldn't be from them.

"Right now with other challenges in the market and peak season we have some other things we are focusing on," he said.

"Naturally we are always interested in what happens next door to us. Let's hope it will improve as plans are developed for the site by the new owners."

Marketed by Colliers International, 424 Fenton St has been described as a site that offers the opportunity to create an unrivalled development in one of New Zealand's key destinations.