Wellington's Sofitel Hotel finally set to open, following changes and delays
A $51 million luxury hotel - once plagued by contractor issues which caused building delays - is about to open its doors in the capital.
Sofitel Wellington, on Bolton St, is the capital's first new hotel since 2009, and first international five-star hotel in 15 years.
The hotel had planned opening date of September 2013, according to the website of the original contractors - Dominion Contractors.
However, the development was beset by contract issues between the developer and its building contractor last year. At the time, it was running more than a year behind schedule.
While remaining tight-lipped on the details, Accor Hotels South Pacific and New Zealand sales, marketing and distribution director Sonya Rossiter said they had new contractors complete the build.
The hotel belongs to CP Group, which is owned by one of New Zealand's wealthiest families - the Pandey family - who have an estimated worth of $180 million.
The group is reputedly the largest owner of hotel real estate in New Zealand. It has properties in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and the US.
The hotel boasts 129 rooms and is close to the Beehive and the Wellington Botanic Garden. It offers four different room types, starting at $225 a night.
One of the suites on the 14th floor will set you back $2500 a night, however, the hefty price tag can be explained with the marble hand basin, gold detailing on the bathroom wall, and the 180-degree view of Wellington city.
The build, which began in 2013, was far from easy, as seven storeys had to be added to the existing building.
"During the design phase, of course, things changed post-Christchurch earthquakes, so it has been a very complex build," Rossiter said.
As a result, the cost of the project was also "probably higher than was wanted", she said.
The company had been searching for the right spot in the capital for a while, she said.
"But with any project it has to stack up financially and be sustainable long time, so that's a big investment and a long-term investment in order to get a return on your money.
"And that's the challenge for us in New Zealand - the cost of land, the cost of building, the cost of compliance and the construction costs - so we are delighted we have got this new opportunity here in Wellington."
Rossiter hoped the hotel would attract high-profile customers, including diplomats.
This hotel is the third Sofitel hotel in New Zealand. It will open on July 1.
The hotel also has a restaurant - Jardin Grill - which is being building on the site of the old Chilean Embassy.
"It's probably the most expensive restaurant in New Zealand at the moment in terms of the [construction] costing over $6 million."
The theme throughout the hotel links local and French heritage, merging the influence of both the Wellington and Luxembourg Gardens.
The company was looking forward to the opening day, she said.
"As we like to say, life is magnifique in Wellington."