New life for pod-style hotel

Quake-damaged hotel to open with 280 rooms

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Cashel St hotel
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
REOPENING: The Cashel St hotel formerly known Hotel So, and then All Seasons, will be refurbished by an Auckland property group.

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An earthquake-damaged Christchurch hotel has changed hands and will reopen later this year with up to 280 rooms, the most in the city.

The pod-style Cashel St hotel, formerly Hotel So and then All Seasons, has been closed since the earthquakes.

It has been bought by Auckland-based Russell Group, a consortium of the Russell Property Group and construction company Dominion Constructors.

Managing director Brett Russell said they would launch an extensive renovation project before reopening the doors. The final redesign and configuration has yet to be finalised.

Christchurch lost about 2500 hotel rooms in the quakes, and Russell said they hoped to help fill "a large hole in the market for affordable inner-city accommodation".

The city's hotel room-rates are the highest in New Zealand, averaging more than $160 a night.

The 1980s building was the Inland Revenue Department office building when it was bought by property developer Dave Henderson in 2003 and later converted into Hotel So, the city's first pod hotel.

After Henderson's companies ran into financial trouble, receivers sold the building for $19 million to Singapore investors Michael Kum and Lynda Ong. It was run briefly by the Accor chain under its Four Seasons brand.

With Accor not planning to remain on the site since the earthquakes, Kum and Ong put the hotel up for sale last year in as-is, where-is condition.

The price paid by the Russell Group has not yet been revealed. Industry sources had expected it to fetch between $5m and $10m. In a repaired state, it could be worth over $20m.

Hotel broker Dean Humphries of Colliers, who negotiated the sale, said it drew a large number of inquiries from existing hotel owners, budget accommodation providers, developers, construction companies and traditional investors.

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- The Press

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