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Rendezvous Hotel reopening inches closer

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 07:31 20/02/2013

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The Rendezvous Hotel may not be back inside its Gloucester St home by Friday, but any delay should be trifling compared with the 11 months since its hoped-for opening co-ordination with last year's Ellerslie Flower Show.

The Rendezvous leases the first 15 floors of the 22-storey Pacific Tower near the corner of Gloucester and Manchester streets.

It had planned to reopen for the Christchurch event in March last year after enforced closure due to the February 2011 quake.

Pacific Tower owner Ernest Duval said "everyone's working full steam ahead" to get the building repairs finished in time for Friday, the targeted hand-over date.

A detailed engineering evaluation (DEE) had been given to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) early this week, he said.

"They are reconsidering that and all the tradesmen are in there on the final leg, so that's the targeted date."

The repair of about 37 structural steel links in the building had been finished and all that remained was the touching up of final aesthetic details, gathering compliance information, and Cera's blessing, he said.

"Will it definitely be handed over on Friday? I'd prefer to say I don't know, but it's pretty close anyway."

It would take only one tradesman to be late with their compliance schedule or an unexpected hiccup for the handover to blow out by a few days, he said. However, it would be only days, he said, rather than the 11 months since the original reopening date.

Last year the hotel had taken bookings for the week of the Ellerslie Flower Show, before it was forced to undergo additional strengthening work by Cera. That was based on the building's first DEE.

The new DEE was not bedtime reading, Duval said: "It's a comprehensive document. It's been peer reviewed and I would hope they're happy with it."

The document is a "fairly weighty" several hundred pages, he said.

Rendezvous Hotel general manager Brad Watts said he hoped to get the keys on Friday, but until the handover he could only tread water.

Once the building was given the green light he would be moving fast to get the hotel open, he said.

"It's just me and the hotel engineer. We're the only ones on the payroll, that's pretty much our structure at the moment."

He would need to hire about 15 to 20 people for the hotel's soft opening. The hotel usually employed about 50-odd people, he said.

"One of the challenges here in Christchurch will be recruitment because in our industry - in hospitality - a lot of these people have left and moved on to find employment, whether in Queenstown, Wellington, Auckland or even Australia."

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However, he believed a few would like to return and staff from other Rendezvous hotels could help plug gaps short-term.

- The Press

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