Foreign investors plan to build largest hotel in Taranaki
Tourism could skyrocket in Taranaki with plans for a huge, $40 million dollar hotel backed by overseas investors.
Property developer Philip Brown has yet to announce the brand and location of the to-be largest hotel in New Plymouth but said its development would prepare the region for an upcoming burst in tourism numbers.
“This will be a game changer in the industry and in readiness of the huge tourism uplift expected over the next decade, which we are already seeing with inbound tourists to Taranaki particularly from the Asian market,” he said.
Placed somewhere between Waiwhakaiho and Bell Block, the hotel would offer 140 hotel rooms, retail, “state of the art” conferencing and wedding facilities as well as short and long stay apartments.
Brown already owns New Plymouth’s latest hotel – the Novotel on Leach St – which was built and opened last year.
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Brown said the new $40m project would be a joint venture between his property development company and an unnamed international chain, which had Asian investors focused on tourism growth from Asian and North American markets.
“The brand is unrepresented in New Zealand, however is one of the largest hotel networks in South East Asia and headquartered in Singapore,” he said.
“The proposed brand is well represented in key Asian markets and North America, which provides enhanced distribution channels for tourism and visitors familiar with the brand in their domestic markets.”
And New Plymouth may not be the only city in the country to see the unnamed hotel brand.
“New Plymouth is one of several cities identified and it is likely other projects will be announced in due course,” Brown said.
He expected resource consent and detailed design to take about six months to complete in addition to a construction timeframe of 18 months, which would be funded through “Singaporean investment and private equity”.
Once completed, the hotel could offer up to 200 new employment opportunities.
However a resource consent form had yet to be lodged with NPDC and the council has made it clear that the city’s future development would focus on protecting and maintaining growth of the city centre.
While Liam Hodgetts of NPDC said the $40m hotel showed “confidence in the region”, he “encourages and welcomes a conversation with developers prior to lodging an application” so that council could give guidance.
And about a month ago, NPDC district planning lead Juliet Johnson said the council aimed to limit urban sprawl in areas like Bell Block and wanted to draw development back into central city.
But Brown seemed confident the project would get approval and construction would be completed by late 2018.
“The proposed site is already zoned under the district plan so consent is more likely to be approved without typical conditions that can affect both time and cost to a project,” he said.
“Having been through a rigorous consent process with Novotel New Plymouth, due to it being in a residential area, we expect this development to be smoother as the proposed location zoning is business commercial.”
But the location was also of concern with those in the industry.
Hospitality NZ president and Good Home owner David Stones said he hoped developers would reconsider the location of the new hotel so “surrounding businesses could benefit”.
“It would be nicer to see it closer to the CBD,” he said.
“But it is a positive thing to see any growth of that magnitude.”
Stones said while Hospitality NZ members were only raking in an average of about 55 per cent occupation rate, he was not too concerned with adding a bit more competition to the region.
“It’s all about growth and bringing people through the gates of Taranaki,” he said.
Hospitality NZ regional manager Chris Hince said as long as developers were cautious with analysing the market, he saw the hotel as a positive indication of tourism growth for the region.
“New Plymouth already has five large-scale hotels, so they would need to be careful of cannibalising the market,” he said.
“But it is a positive thing and an indication of where people see the industry growing.”