Rotorua's reputation as an international destination for chilling out in hot water is about to get a $21.5 million investment injection.
Building consents have been granted for two commercial spa developments on the geothermal city's lakefront - which is also undergoing a makeover.
Consent applications have been approved for work worth $13.5m for Rotorua's iconic QE Health development and work totalling $8m for foundations and drainage for the Wai Ariki development.
The projects were among $34,961,303 worth of residential and commercial building consents signed off by the Rotorua Lakes Council in March.
QE Health chief executive Dr Aaron Randell said the company was "thrilled" its building consent for the new wellness centre had been confirmed.
"It is a significant milestone for us, the project and the community. We are really excited about the next phase of this development and look forward to sharing more detail once our building timelines are confirmed."
QE Health is building a $14.5m 300sq m state-of-the-art facility next door to its existing building on land owned by the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust, near the intersection of Whakaue and Hinemaru Sts.
The Provincial Growth Fund has provided $1.5m grant towards the development, which is expected to employ between 30 and 50 people in the construction period.
Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust has also committed $1m to the construction project, along with a loan of $2m.
According to information on its website, QE Health expected to open the new facility by the end of this year and planned to move all of its existing services into the new centre.
The business has been on the lakefront for 78 years.
The first facilities were commissioned by the New Zealand government in 1942, as rehabilitation facilities for soldiers returning from World War II.
Now, QE Health offers rheumatology, physiotherapy, psychology, orthotics, dietetics, occupational therapy, osteopathy, appearance medicine, gym services, rehabilitation therapy and spa treatments.
The brand new Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa on Whakaue St is the latest development by Pukeroa Oruawhata Group and will cost about $30m in total to build.
The Pukeroa Oruawhata Group was approached for comment about the consents.
Randell has previously said QE Health's clinically focused services would compliment Wai Ariki's hot spring and spa offerings, together building on Rotorua's reputation as a wellness destination.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said it was "fantastic" to see these "exciting" developments progressing on the city's lakefront.
"Major projects like the new facility for the city's much-loved QE Health and Ngati Whakaue's Wai Ariki Hot Springs & Spa development will contribute to aspirations as a spa, health and wellness destination and greatly benefit our local community, as well as integrating with the lakefront refresh that is now well underway."
Chadwick said the developments would provide much-needed jobs, support economic recovery and future growth and "demonstrate confidence in, and a commitment to, our district's future".
"As progress on these projects becomes more visible, we will hopefully see a ripple effect in terms of economic confidence that could prompt others to also proceed with planned investment or developments."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the new developments will provide a comprehensive spa service for the community and reposition Rotorua as a "spa centre".
"It should create a lot of jobs and it will have exposure to tourism. It will be great for Rotorua."
Heard said Rotorua was seen as a spa hot spot years ago.
"We're coming back to our roots in some respects."
Building consents - March 2021
1092 Hinemaru St
New commercial building for QE Health
1073 Whakaue St
Wai Ariki Spa - foundations and drainage
New community centre and caretaker sheds
Source: Rotorua Lakes Council