Heritage hotel to reopen in May

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 08:44 18/02/2013
Heritage Christchurch Hotel
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

HOTEL CENTRAL: The Old Government Building, part of the Heritage Christchurch Hotel, in front of the hotel's main tower building, with the Millennium Hotel on the right.

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The Heritage Christchurch Hotel in Cathedral Square is looking at a May 14 official reopening of its Old Government Building, more than two years after it was closed because of  quake damage.

The planned reopening after finishing touches such as painting will be about 100 years after the building was first erected.

''We're really looking forward to reopening. It is coming to the climax now to where we're looking forward to opening the doors again,'' hotel general manager Gary Jarvis said.

The OGB section of the hotel will provide about 54 extra rooms to the starved Christchurch accommodation sector. Most of the rooms are one, two and three-bedroom furnished apartments.

But the Heritage-branded main tower block building with 135 rooms behind the OGB will no longer be part of what the hotel operator offers.

The fate of the tower has been the subject of continuing  talks between the owner and insurers.

One source said the tower would be demolished, but an associated car park would  survive.

Jarvis said the body corporate representing the owners of the tower had accepted an insurance settlement with the tower's insurer.

The Heritage had owned some of the rooms in the tower, as part of a mixed ownership model.

The owners had also decided to sell the building ''as is'' and the land. He did not know the building's future at this point.

''[But] that won't be part of our [Heritage] operation moving forward,'' Jarvis said.

''The building will be marketed in the very near future, and be up for sale [including] the land, the underlying land.''

Jarvis said the OGB-based hotel would have a soft opening before the May 14 target date.

Workers have been doing repairs at the century-old category 1 Historic Places-recognised building, particularly on intricate stone and brickwork, but also on plaster board cracks and stained glass.

Because of all the earthquake work done in 1995-96 when it was converted, it had served very well, Jarvis said.

Features such as a large main staircase and a stained glass window behind that remained intact.

A swimming pool in the basement had survived without damage.

The repair of the building is costing millions of dollars, covered by insurance.

Although the Heritage would have a reduced inventory in Christchurch, it would look at other hotel opportunities as they arose in the city.

With the recent opening of the Ibis hotel in Hereford St, Christchurch now has about 4532 hotel beds. Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism forecasts that number to grow 36 per cent to 6196 by December 2015.

Also expected to open this year are the Novotel (with 130 rooms) in August, the Latimer (145 rooms) in late 2013, and the Rendezvous (170 rooms) in the second quarter of 2013, according to estimates.

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