Scenic in talks over centre
Scenic Hotel Group is to meet the Marlborough District Council this week about its contract to run the Marlborough Convention Centre in Blenheim, its general manager Brendan Taylor says.
Mr Taylor said the hotel group had been in discussions with the council for a couple of months, and had another meeting scheduled for Thursday.
"After that, we should have a better idea of the direction we're going in."
Scenic Hotel Group was awarded the contract to manage the convention centre in 2007, after promising to upgrade its hotel in Henry St and to add 44 rooms on to the property. The hotel's existing 56 rooms and the public areas of the hotel have been upgraded as required, but the 44 rooms have not been built.
The council was reviewing the contract in light of the failure to meet the conditions. The lease runs until December next year.
The hotel got resource consents about a year ago to do the work, planning to put the extra rooms on the northeastern side of its block. Those consents were valid for another four years.
The council discussed the convention centre contract during a public-excluded session of its full meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Council chief executive Andrew Besley declined to comment but it was understood no decisions had been made.
Mr Taylor said the hotel group has spent almost $6 million on upgrading the Scenic Hotel Marlborough, and another $1m on running the convention centre.
The town benefited from that. "The hotel has been seen as the poor cousin in town. It lifts itself up now and Blenheim benefits from that."
Mr Taylor said he was open to debate about who should run the convention centre.
"It's about what's best for Blenheim. We all benefit out of it."
The group would build the extra rooms if it was financially viable, he said.
However, the Christchurch earthquakes had affected the company badly, with its hotels on the West Coast and Blenheim suffering from the subsequent drop in visitors coming to the South Island. The global financial crisis had also dramatically cut the number of group market tourists coming from the United States and Europe.
"It's a different world we're trading in at the moment."
The company was happy with its relationship with the council and how things had worked out so far, he said.
- The Marlborough Express