City hotels dash to cater for demand

The Heritage tower in Cathedral Square will be demolished because of earthquake damage, but other Christchurch hotels are locked in a race to reopen.

The Heritage's owners have decided not to repair the tower and instead plan to demolish it and sell the land.

The chairman of the body corporate, George Horsburgh, said an application had been made to the High Court to have the building demolished, and it was hoped work could start in the next couple of months.

Bringing the tower down could take at least nine months, he said.

There had been a cash settlement with the insurer, and the body corporate had received a payout.

Meanwhile, across Cathedral Square, the Novotel was setting its sights on being the next big hotel to reopen post-quake, on August 19.

It was planning a soft launch for new guests that day followed by an official opening on September 4.

General manager Carl Braddock said there was plenty of demand based on the volume of guests staying at the Ibis in Hereford St. Both the Ibis and Novotel brands are owned by French hotel group Accor.

"The Ibis has done 30,000 visitors in the first six months since it opened on September 4 . It's extraordinary, we're hoping to repeat that performance."

However, Hotel All Seasons in Papanui Rd, previously run by Accor, may be demolished, he said.

Novotel faced some competition in the reopening race from the nearby Quest Christchurch Serviced Apartments in Worcester St and the Heritage's Old Government Building.

Quest's Christchurch managing director, Bess Thomson, said she did not want to give an opening date more specific than the second half of 2013.

The Old Government Building, owned by individuals but run by the Heritage hotel group, had put a May 14 date around a potential opening but has now pulled back.

"I don't have a confirmation [date] at the moment; we've got to work through with Cera [the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority] to get the cordon reduced," Heritage Christchurch general manager Gary Jarvis said.

The Latimer Hotel has now put a later October 1 date on stage one of its opening. It will have 65 rooms plus a conference and restaurant facility, rising to 140 rooms by the end of the year.

Bruce Garrett, Tourism Industry Association regional chairman for hotels, said the openings were good news.

The Press