Hotel aims to be a lap of luxury

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 10:48 05/03/2014
Kingsgate
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ
WORK BEGINS: The Kingsgate Hotel renovations have begun.

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Kingsgate Hotel in Palmerston North will become a Copthorne Hotel after its $4 million upgrade is completed in May.

But the future of traditional student bar The Fitz, which Kingsgate owns, remains undecided.

A floor-by-floor total renovation of 76 rooms in the hotel began in December, and the first rooms are about a week away from being finished.

The only things being spared a facelift were the bathrooms, which were renovated in 2007 and remained modern and usable, Kingsgate general manager Carey Lister said.

Once the first renovations were finished, Kingsgate would change its brand to Copthorne in recognition of the added luxury of the site, he said, although it would remain in the same ownership.

The aim was to bring the hotel up to at least on a par with its main competitors, the Hotel Coachman and Travelodge, and the hope was that the overall package would be the best in Palmerston North once it was fully completed, Lister said.

The $4m investment was a sign of the trust and confidence the company had in Palmerston North and its economy, he said.

Side units would be put into limbo until the exact nature of a second and third stage of renovations had been decided upon.

The Fitz site, one of the most popular and long-standing student bars in Palmerston North until it poured its last public pint in 2008, was earmarked for work in the second and third stage of the renovations, Lister said.

He was not able to elaborate on what that might be, as no decisions about the site had been finalised.

The bar, which opened in 1966, has a colourful and somewhat chequered history.

In 2003, student William Cranswick died after hitting his head on the floor during an alcohol-fuelled late-night game of bullrush. When The Fitz closed, his parents said they would like to see the building destroyed.

In 2005, the pub was criticised by the Alcohol Advisory Council for "irresponsible behaviour" after displaying a sign that said: "Why study for your exams when you can get drunk with your mates?"

In 2009, an electrical explosion set the abandoned building ablaze.

The bar had an eclectic set of rules, including no dancing, no "personal displays of affection", no drinking with your right hand, and no getting naked before 10pm.

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- Manawatu Standard

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