A five star hotel for Wellington

May 20th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A five-star Hilton Hotel with a vast conference centre could be open and taking bookings in within three years.

Wellington City Council has confirmed a 165-bed Hilton would include a purpose-built, 2500-capacity conference centre, making it the third-largest in New Zealand should it open as hoped in 2017.

That’s superb news for Wellington. We need both a top hotel, and a conference centre.

The Park Royal (whatever it is now called) managed to block a Hilton being built a few years ago (would have been to replace that eyesore indoor sports arena by Dockside), so hopefully they will not be able to use the RMA to block them this time.

The cost of the Hilton hotel-conference centre has not been disclosed, but it would provide about 350 new jobs. Head developer and investor Mark Dunajtschik confirmed it would be built in Cable St, opposite Te Papa, should the proposal get the green light.

Will be very close to Courtney Central, which is dying slightly. So this may help.

The council would provide an as-yet unspecified amount for the project, but only if the business case, which was still being developed, stacked up and was approved by the full council next month.

There would be a consultation period for the public to have its say.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said financial input from the council would most probably be justified.

I’m all for a hotel and convention centre, but not convinced ratepayers should help fund it.

Council economic spokeswoman Jo Coughlan said a large convention centre would enable Wellington to tap into the lucrative Australian market.

“Those convention-goers tend to spend $3000 a trip, compared to a domestic convention-goer, who spends about $1000. It will have a big impact.” …

Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said that if the Hilton was built, more foreigners and New Zealanders would visit the city for conferences. “At a conservative level, we think it would grow . . . by about 18 per cent.”

I’m sure there would be be a boost to tourism and the Wellington economy from the proposed hotel and convention centre. But projected benefits tend to always be wildly optimistic. A ratepayer contribution, if necessary, should be modest.

 

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17 Responses to “A five star hotel for Wellington”

  1. dave53 (87 comments) says:

    I thought the main opponent of the wharf Hilton was that anti-waterfront development group? Waterfront Watch. IIRC Park Royal (Intercontinetal) was a side objectee. Helene Ritchie was an objector too. But then she objects to everything.

    But good news if it comes off

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  2. jp_1983 (205 comments) says:

    There must be a taniwhai hiding around somewhere waiting to show itself.
    I hope not but a good indicator of past behaviour is a good measure for future behaviour

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  3. peterwn (3,239 comments) says:

    “Wade-Brown said there are no five-star hotels in Wellington,”
    I thought the Intercontinental and Bolton were five star hotels or are there differing definitions of five star hotels. I spent a night in LAX Hilton some years ago (what the travel agent booked) and could not discern anything special about it.

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  4. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    Must be a slow news day…

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  5. labrator (1,837 comments) says:

    They should put it in Evans bay, tarmac the top of it and you’d get the runway extension for free.

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  6. dime (9,799 comments) says:

    lol cant build a private hotel without some glorious rate payer cash.

    but why the hell not. an easy game to play. if the council say no ya just start yelling

    “this hotel would have bought millions into wellington! it would have created XXXX jobs. we just needed a little help. the mayor is obviously against jobs”

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  7. georgebolwing (769 comments) says:

    I can confidently predict that:

    a) the business case will need to include some fudge factor, like “aggolomeration benefits” to make it NVP neutral;

    b) the Council will end up taking more risk and get less return than the developer;

    c) the convention centre will attract few true self-funding private sector conventions, but will end up being a loss-making extension of the Council and will be mainly used bygovernment departments for their larger staff meetings.

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  8. anonymouse (709 comments) says:

    Will be very close to Courtney Central, which is dying slightly

    Courtenay Central is in a state of flux as they work out what gets demolished for the Countdown supermarket. ALSO They need the car park for the supermarket, but it needs earthquake repairs after the August jolts, so that has added more uncertainty

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  9. RRM (9,784 comments) says:

    The other problem with Courtenay Central is that its car park has been closed ever since the Seddon Earthquakes…

    No ratepayer funding for the Hiltons thanks, they are doing just fine on their own.

    As someone else said, I suspect the main customers of a convention centre would be government departments having giant pointless yawnfests for all their slow moving, mouth breathing, black suit wearing slugs; costing a fortune each time and achieving precious little…

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  10. Nick R (505 comments) says:

    Convention centres never make money by themselves. Even Sky City had to get a subsidy in kind from the Crown (in the form of extra pokies etc) before it would agree to build one. Face it, if they made money, someone would have built one in Wellington already.

    So the question is, will a convention centre generate enough activity to make it worth putting public money into? How can we be sure it won’t end up as another white elephant like the Forsyth Barr staium in Dunedin? Personally I’m skeptical. I reckon convention centres are a bit like sports stadiums – nice for a privileged few who either enjoy using them or make money out of them, but a burden for everyone else.

    The main people who would benefit would be downtown bars and restaurants, etc. So if the money came out of business rates I guess it might be ok.

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  11. dave_c_ (217 comments) says:

    When o When will Councils learn that Rate payers are sick and tired of telling them that they should stick to the knitting.

    The whole community will benefit far more (than any benefit the individual ratepayer would receive from a white elephant investment) by council spending money on the fundamentals for which ratepayers expect when they pay their rates.

    I agree with the posting above, that no-one but the developer, will benefit significantly, and that we’ll have a white elephant requiring yet more ratepayers money to support long term

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  12. wiseowl (861 comments) says:

    Where was that?
    Opposite the Museum Of NEW ZEALAND.

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  13. alwyn (411 comments) says:

    For crying out loud David. Are you made of money or are you planning to leave Wellington?
    This thing will be like every other crazy idea that Councillors have. It will cost a fortune, need ratepayer subsidies for ever and cost the ratepayers, not millions but tens of millions every year. Then the Mayor, and her cohorts will say that it isn’t their fault that it wasn’t a success. After all how were they to know that there wasn’t a demand to match their wild claims?
    If the Convention Centre, and the Hotel, are worth having it doesn’t require the ratepayers of Wellington to subsidise it.
    Remember how enormously popular the Sanctuary was going to be? Remember how the Stadium would pay for itself. Remember how the Rugby Ground in Dunedin was going to pay for itself. Remember the demand for the TSB Arena. Etc, etc, etc, etc.
    Let the Councillors put their own money in if they want to but stop stealing out of my wallet.

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  14. OneTrack (2,981 comments) says:

    dave_c – “When o When will Councils learn that Rate payers are sick and tired of telling them that they should stick to the knitting.”

    They simply dont care. What’s the worst that could happen – they get to spend millions of dollars, they are feted by developers, etc., AND they get paid for it.

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  15. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    I never really rated the Bolton, Interco is good, if unspectacular, museum hotel probably best boutique hotel in Wellington.

    As for a new hotel, as long as it’s funded by the private sector and I don’t have to pony up any of my taxes in subsidies then i don’t really care one way or another

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  16. calendar girl (1,214 comments) says:

    “I’m all for a hotel and convention centre, but not convinced ratepayers should help fund it.”

    Very disappointed that that this sort of ratepayer funding (“corporate welfare”?) is considered even remotely appropriate. dave_c_ and alwyn above express eloquently the despair that I feel that public part-funding is a real possibility. A probability, perhaps, given the woolly-thinking leadership of WCC.

    A comment for Nick R: SkyCity didn’t receive a subsidy in kind from the Crown. It put up its own private-enterprise capital for a potential Auckland convention centre that Government had made clear it wanted established in the gateway city. The quid pro quo negotiated was a relaxation in the arbitrary limitation on numbers of pokies for which its associated casino was licensed. That’s a straight business deal, based on consideration passing in both directions. Nothing like WCC scrambling to give away ratepayer money to assist a development already proposed; one on which the Celia Wade-Browns and Jo Coughlans of this world now seek to coat-tail, while sharing in what they regard as the reflected glory.

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  17. cauld (47 comments) says:

    Do you lot actually open your eyes when walking around town? Or get out of the Molesworth quarter?

    There is a Sofitel (the 5 star, very nice thank you very much, Accor branded hotel) going in on Bolton St. Will open late this year or early next. So that’s a tick for a top hotel to be sure.

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