Hotel heaven

Last updated 05:00 12/04/2014
Joshua Grant
Joshua Grant and Harriet Bambridge are the new managers at Hotel D'Urville.

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The hours are long and the commitment huge but every day is different in the hospitality industry.

Hotel d'Urville in Blenheim is one of the newest additions to the Select Hotels and Resorts International hotel chain and new managers Joshua Grant, 27, and Harriet Bambridge, 26, are ready to put it on the map.

They arrived in Blenheim two weeks ago from another Select hotel, the five-star Braemar Lodge and Spa in Hanmer Springs.

They started working there not long after arriving in New Zealand from Britain.

Their love was still new when they decided to visit the other side of the world together, but the intensity of their jobs in a British hotel where they met convinced them they were a lasting match.

To work in the hotel industry it pays to know how to get on with people, Harriet says.

"And once we'd met, we've barely had one night apart," Joshua says.

The couple both come from Boston, Lincolnshire, and attended the same primary school, so "always knew of each other's existence".

Harriet followed her solicitor father's example and did a law degree but never entered a practice. Instead she got a job in a hotel where she met Joshua, whose parents had been in the hotel business.

Born into the hospitality industry, Joshua's specialty is sales and marketing and the development and refurbishment of venues.

Hotel d'Urville, the new managers say, is ready for a revamp. Originally built as a Public Trust Office, they like its style.

"It's quite a cool building and for a New Zealand hotel, it's quite unusual. In New Zealand you don't get many historic hotels," Joshua says.

The 11 guest rooms each has its own theme and the downstairs restaurant and bar offers guests a different environment to the self-contained motel units the English pair have seen all round New Zealand.

"You don't get any of those in the UK," Joshua says. "You don't get any units with self-service kitchens."

Food prepared in the Hotel d'Urville kitchen has been changed under the new Select ownership and seafood is the new specialty.

"There [wasn't] a seafood restaurant in the area and there's some awesome seafood in New Zealand - some of the best in the world," Joshua says.

"Local" is a good marketing phrase to use and when the hotel is promoted to the world through the internet and by online booking agents, its Marlborough location will be a natural selling point.

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"People want to come on wine trails to drink some of New Zealand's finest wines," Joshua says. "And this building, being iconic, will help."

Marlborough customers have not been forgotten, though, and they hope Marlborough residents will enjoy the outdoor bar area they intend to develop in partnership with another company.

The small indoor bar is being turned into a conference room and might also be used for intimate weddings.

Harriet and Joshua were engaged last October but are non-committal when asked if they might get married at Hotel d'Urville.

A wedding is unlikely to happen until next year, Harriet says, and they might go back to Britain.

They say Hanmer Springs was beautiful but a largely weekend destination.

"We wanted to put our mark on our own place. This [Hotel d'Urville] is a lovely space to start," Joshua says.

Start? So this is just the beginning?

He nods. "We want to build this up and see where we end up."

- The Marlborough Express


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