New Zealand’s largest hotel group, Accor, announced today plans to open two of its four Christchurch hotels, which were closed following the earthquake in February 2011.
Hotel Ibis Christchurch is the first hotel scheduled to re-open with a target date of September 2012. Novotel Christchurch will follow, with a planned re-opening date of April 2013.
Decisions on the future of Accor’s two All Seasons hotels in Christchurch are still pending as access - particularly to the Cashel Street property - has been severely restricted by on-going demolition work in the area.
“When we re-open the Ibis and Novotel hotels they will be effectively new hotels,” said regional manager, Zayne Boon.
“Both of the hotels were relatively new - the Ibis was built in 2007 and the Novotel 2010 - so they were built to very exacting standards and their structures received only minor damage during the earthquakes. The main problems were internal and required a complete re-fit of both hotels, so when they re-open they will have a very fresh and new feel to them.
“The heritage Warners Hotel wing of the Novotel had to be demolished, but the new part of the hotel survived the impact of the earthquake very well, despite being located right in the heart of Cathedral Square.
“There is a critical shortage of accommodation in Christchurch and the re-opening of these hotels will allow significant progress to be made in reviving Christchurch’s commercial and tourist fortunes. It will also provide employment and will help support the wider revival of Christchurch’s central business district.
“There are already encouraging signs, with permanent and temporary shopping precincts opening and more businesses returning to the city centre, but the city really needs the confidence boost of major international hotels re-opening to cater for domestic and overseas visitors. It will really help accelerate the re-vitalisation process.
“We have worked very closely with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, seconding one of our senior managers (Tim Dearsley) to CERA to liaise with the broader hospitality industry in Christchurch, and we are very pleased that one of the main priorities identified by CERA is the building of a new convention centre. Christchurch held around 35% of the convention market in New Zealand prior to the earthquake, and its contribution to the Christchurch economy was enormous. We believe that the city can re-establish that position and once again be a major driver for the South Island’s tourism sector and wider economy.
“We are fully committed to the re-vitalising of Christchurch and believe that developments over the next 12 months will send a very positive signal to the rest of the world that the city is ready to welcome tourists back.”