Sofitel Wellington's 'very expensive rebuild' complete, reopening October 9
Wellington's newest five-star hotel reopens next month after closing for almost a year due to fire damage.
Sofitel Wellington had been open just five months when a fire broke out in its restaurant, Jardin Grill, forcing the lengthy closure. It will officially reopen on October 9.
General manager Stephen Gould said it was a "very expensive rebuild", though he could not say how much the repair bill was.
"We don't have access to the cost, but what I can say is it is no doubt significant."
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Jardin Grill was built in on the site of the former Chilean Embassy at a cost of more than $6 million.
The hotel's owners admitted the construction and design costs meant it was "probably the most expensive restaurant in New Zealand".
However, the fire on December 2 caused extensive damage, and it had to be completely rebuilt.
Gould would not say what caused the fire.
"We had expert investigators involved immediately following the fire, but I am not actually in a position to discuss the findings," he said.
The restaurant had been rebuilt with the same decor. A new executive chef, Roy Giam, formerly of Charley Noble, had joined the team, bringing a new menu with him, Gould said.
The timing of the hotel's 10-month closure meant it missed out on a series of lucrative events, including the Wellington Sevens, the Lions tour, and the World of Wearable Arts (WoW).
However, reservations for the restaurant and rooms at the hotel had been constant since the announcement of its reopening, he said.
"We've been really, really pleased with the number of bookings … We've been consistently and regularly receiving bookings for the back end of the year."
Staff that were redeployed to other hotels were offered the chance to return to Sofitel Wellington, he said.
"A large number of course took up the opportunity to return."
The opening of Sofitel Wellington in July 2016 marked the capital's first new hotel since 2009, and first international five-star hotel in 15 years.
The Bolton St hotel, which cost around $51 million to build, had plans to open in September 2013, according to the original contractors, Dominion Contractors.
However, the development was beset by contract issues between the developer and its building contractor.
The hotel belongs to CP Group, which is owned by one of New Zealand's wealthiest families, the Pandey family, who have an estimated worth of $180m.
The group is reportedly the largest owner of hotel real estate in New Zealand. It has properties in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and the US.