Pioneer buys most of The Rees, plans national chain

The Rees Queenstown Hotel, which is undergoing a management company shareholding change and will become the flagship hotel of a planned national chain. Photo: Supplied
The Rees Queenstown Hotel, which is undergoing a management company shareholding change and will become the flagship hotel of a planned national chain. Photo: Supplied
A New Zealand investment firm has become the majority shareholder in a Queenstown hotel and plans to create several more like it along the country's ''tourist route''.

The Rees Hotel Queenstown will continue under its ''hybrid ownership structure'', in which the hotel is owned under separate unit titles.

Mark Rose
Mark Rose
The shareholding change, to take effect tomorrow, is within The Rees Management Ltd, which exclusively manages the property.

Pioneer Capital is to become the majority shareholder, buying 40% of the shares from Lifeguard Ltd, a company associated with Ian and Paul Singleton, and 20% from Fernmade Ltd, associated with Geoffrey Burns.

Shareholding for remaining TRML directors Mark Rose and Bruce Davidson has also been diluted, taking Pioneer's interest to about 80% of the management company.

The Singletons and Mr Burns will be replaced on the board of directors by Pioneer Capital investment manager Shane Shepherd, its managing director, Randall Barratt, and independent director Mike Pohio, of Hamilton.

Mr Davidson, already a board member, will become the chairman, while fellow director Mr Rose will continue as chief executive.

The management team and all staff, which varies between 95 and 120, will be retained following the share sale.

Mr Rose said the change in shareholding would also result in expansion - The Rees Hotel Queenstown, which attracted about 100,000 guests a year, would become the ''centrepiece'' of a chain of about five boutique hotels across the country.

While it was too soon to say where future hotels might be located, a criterion for any site was having ''a sense of place''.

He hoped to have one or two sites ''well progressed'' within the next year and early discussions were under way for additional sites.

''The business is able to entertain both refurbishing existing sites as well as new developments that meet The Rees' high standard of accommodation.

''Management contracts/leases are another viable option that we would also consider.''

Along with enabling growth, the development plan would provide security of supply of guest numbers for The Rees, ''carefully targeted at the high-end international tourism market''.

It would also provide benefits for apartment owners, provide certainty of ownership and supply of capital, and enable career progression for staff, he said.

''Suddenly, we've got a place for them to go.

''When you've only got the one, stand-alone property, and you've got these amazing people who work in there, they just can't move up the ladder and this really opens up a whole bunch of different opportunities for them.''

Mr Barratt said Pioneer would leverage the leadership, culture and management of the Frankton Rd hotel as the ''key ingredient'' in the development strategy.

''Mark and his team have built an exceptional tourism offering in The Rees, and we are delighted to be partnering with them as they expand the product to address increasing inbound demand.''

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

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