The New Zealand Herald

Airport hotel to be first of many

Singapore company Naumi has big ambitions in the New Zealand tourism market

- Grant Bradley

Aprivately owned Singapore hotel company has big plans in New Zealand as it prepares to officially open a $50 million Auckland property. Naumi Hotel Auckland Airport will open tomorrow and has 193 rooms the company says are distinctiv­e and cater to guests’ changing tastes.

It is the first Naumi Hotels' property outside Singapore to open but the company has work underway in Wellington and Sydney.

The Auckland hotel was formerly the Hotel Grande (previously owned by the GHI Group, Singapore), and was bought for $23.3m and during the past 18 months has undergone a complete overhaul with renovation­s exceeding $25m.

Gaurang Jhunjhnuwa­la, chief executive of Naumi Australia and New Zealand, said his family-owned firm had confidence in the outlook for tourism in New Zealand.

“I'm a strong believer in New Zealand tourism. Two years ago when we were looking to expand New Zealand was an obvious destinatio­n for us,” he said.

“There was a good mix of leisure and corporate travellers entering the country through Auckland which meant it was a natural starting point for operations in this country.”

Two hotels in Cuba St, Wellington, were being developed with 179 beds and Naumi was looking for sites in Christchur­ch and Queenstown.

A shortage of hotels has pushed up prices and hoteliers are enjoying yields that are among historic highs particular­ly in Auckland and Queenstown.

“Those are the perils of a growing city that is attracting tourists. New Zealand needs a lot more hotels and hotels in different categories.”

Jhunjhnuwa­la said room rates started around $300 a night at his new hotel on Kirkbride Rd, near Auckland Airport.

The five-star property was 3km from the airport. It was aimed at “redefining the transit accommodat­ion market” as the only boutique hotel set away from the intensity of the airport precinct.

Jhunjhnuwa­la said he hoped the rooms would be polarising.

“It should be akin to staying in a friend's stylish home. It should be someone's favourite room or someone's non-favourite room,” he said.

While many hotels were moving away from minibars, the Naumi had compliment­ary snacks and soft drinks available, he said.

It also has unlimited Wi-Fi and Netflix in rooms, aimed at younger travellers.

“We found a lot of existing hotels are not catering to the millennial market who have different luxury demands than may be traditiona­l,” said Jhunjhnuwa­la.

Auckland is suffering a shortage of hotels and Jhunjhnuwa­la said he had yet to find a suitable site in the middle of the city.

Research by internatio­nal real estate services company CBRE late last year found that if tourism growth continues at forecast rates, demand will continue to exceed supply leading into the America's Cup in 2021.

The report said an additional 3195 hotel rooms were planned for the city during the next three years, with a probable forecast of 2580 rooms (81 per cent) actually built.

Demand for hotel rooms is forecast to increase by 5 per cent to 7 per cent a year during the next three years regardless of the Cup as the internatio­nal and domestic tourism markets continue to grow. Phil Twyford, Housing Minister

“The Government will not be in a position to introduce legislatio­n to Parliament on the apartment sector until next year at the earliest as there are other more urgent housing needs,” he said.

The moves follow Kaye’s extensive “apartment blues” project where she held meetings two years ago then worked with sector representa­tives to draft big changes.

But the National Government never reformed the law before last year’s election and the project stalled.

However, Kaye indicated yesterday that she hadn’t given up.

“Judith Collins and I recently met with the Minister of Housing. We committed — if we were in Government — to have a unit titles reform bill introduced into Parliament by Christmas last year. The minister has said he is interested in progressin­g the reform . . . but that it may take until the latter part of this year to draft.

“Judith and I are working with some sector representa­tives to try and progress the drafting of a member’s bill so we can move quicker on this. The final details of a bill would need to be agreed by the National caucus but we hope to have something ready in the next two months.”

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Gaurang Jhunjhnuwa­la

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