Five-star hotel plan for Hamilton casino

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2012
ARCHITECTURAL WONDER: The former Central Post Office dome, dating from 1940, will be preserved in the build.
BRUCE MERCER/ WAIKATO TIMES
ARCHITECTURAL WONDER: The former Central Post Office dome, dating from 1940, will be preserved in the build.
BUILDING UP:  An artist’s impression of the five-star hotel planned for above Skycity’s existing Hamilton casino.
BUILDING UP: An artist’s impression of the five-star hotel planned for above Skycity’s existing Hamilton casino.

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Details of Hamilton's first five-star hotel have emerged, with high rollers set for a taste of the high life once building begins on the multimillion-dollar development.

The hotel, atop the existing Skycity casino, was first confirmed last year but details since then have been closely held by the publicly listed gaming company. However, consent documents obtained by the Waikato Times reveal the extent of the hotel, the latest in a string of projects set to boost the city's CBD.

Skycity has been granted land use consents for a three-level, 135-suite hotel, with early consent application documents giving the first detailed picture of its proposal.

The development will almost double the floor space of the central city gaming and entertainment complex, adding more than 9000 sqm and almost 15m of height.

It will be built to 5-star rating with room sizes including eight two-level, 84 sqm "premiere" suites on a mezzanine floor above level six. The plans also include a pool, gymnasium and sauna on level four.

The largest suites will be comparable in size to some of the luxury "grand presidential" suites at Skycity's flagship Grand Hotel, alongside its Auckland casino complex. A grand atrium will also soar vertically through the building from the fourth floor.

The luxury hotel, for which Skycity has not revealed a start date, will lift CBD hotel room stocks, adding to the 177-room, four-star Novotel Tainui, the Ibis Hamilton's 126 three-star rooms and boutique Le Grand Hotel's 39 self-rated four-star rooms.

Chief financial officer James Burrell yesterday said the company would update the market on its potential plans as part of its full-year financial results on August 15.

Mayor Julie Hardaker said a string of central city property developments were now in the public arena, and she expected more to emerge.

In recent months those have included McConnell Property's plans for the Citygate building next to Wintec and on the Victoria on the River site, Mighty River Power's plans to shift 135 staff to a new building in Grantham St and the Earthquake Commission moving 150 staff to London St.

"We've certainly noticed, over the past six months, an increase in inquiries to council," said Ms Hardaker.

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"A number of reports have identified to the council, and highlighted the need for more hotel accommodation in the CBD.

"The city does need more of these high-quality hotels and I think this is complementary, and positive news for the city," said Ms Hardaker.

The hotel development will not affect the external appearance of the former Central Post Office and the consents require the company to take steps to minimise the chance of damage to the building's striking glass dome, which is an A-ranked heritage item.

The building's art-deco geodesic dome was reputedly the world's largest unsupported glass dome - and hung two storeys lower than now - when it was completed in 1940.

However, city heritage consultant Dr Ann McEwan said the post office building's facade had been severely compromised already by development, "and you end up paying lip service to the significance of it".

"It's got significance of itself, but to my mind the problem is that the dome has some architectural and engineering significance, but the building itself has been ruined already."

- Waikato Times

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