Holiday Inn Express will open but scaled to demand

Queenstown's newest hotel may be opening to a domestic market only, but its owners are confident about the future.

The 227-room, four-star Holiday Inn Express, in Stanley St, opens next Friday at a time when visitor numbers are drastically down on those experienced during the tourism boom of the past six or seven years.

General manager Jason Sabin said it was opening with a scaled-down operation of 98 rooms and 20 staff, but would expand in line with demand.

The opening coincided with the second week of the school holidays and the ski season, and although bookings were "quite positive" so far, he acknowledged it was a "difficult environment".

"We understood that operating with closed borders and only a domestic market will provide its own challenges.

"But New Zealand’s leading the world in its management of the pandemic, and when [the Government] announced that domestic travel was permitted, that gave us the confidence to open our doors."

Final preparations are under way at Queenstown’s Holiday Inn Express hotel. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
Final preparations are under way at Queenstown’s Holiday Inn Express hotel. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS

He hoped the border would open to Australia soon.

"That will provide a good jab in the arm."

It was pleasing to create 20 new jobs in the resort, Mr Sabin said.

Owned by Australian developer Pro-invest Group, the hotel is the company’s first Holiday Inn Express in New Zealand, a brand used by more than 2400 hotels worldwide.

The two-year, $60million build, which had about 250 workers at its peak, covers a site bordered by Stanley, Sydney and Melbourne Sts.

Meanwhile, a survey of hoteliers by Horwath HTL and Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) between June 23 and 29 found that of the 110 hotels that responded, 11% were fully closed, 14% were operating partially and 68% were operating fully.

In a media statement, TIA hotel sector manager Sally Attfield said half of the respondents indicated the border to Australia would have to open by September at the latest if they were to remain open for the next 12 months.

The average loss of employment was now expected to be about 50%, down from 56% in the previous survey, conducted in May.


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