In a city that has so few high rises, the iconic Rutherford Hotel stands out like a sore thumb. One of Heritage Hotel’s jewels, it was built in the early 1970’s with an exterior design more akin to a Government department – but that belies its welcoming interior that has played host to individuals, families and wider conferences for over 40 years.
The Rutherford is clearly the biggest venue in town and a well-established institution. And while not the ultimate in luxurious accommodation, it’s well appointed and its refurbished rooms can accommodate around 700 guests.
The hotel boasts a recently completed conference centre that is one of the largest such venues built recently in New Zealand and adding to this are two quite outstanding restaurants.
The hotel has a strong connection with the aquaculture industry and offers superb fresh seafood in its Oceano restaurant. But pride of place must go to its regionally popular Miyazu Japanese restaurant that has been winning awards for over 15 years. Many hotels struggle to get local diners but this has never been problem for Miyazu where more than 85% of its patronage comes from locals. Its spectacular teppanyaki tables continue to provide local theatre.
Heading the hotel team is manager Bevan McGillicuddy whose background is quite remarkable. Bevan has been 10 years at the property and lists Arrowtown and Millbrook accommodation as priors including management of sporting sites such as NZ Ski.com and Ultimate Hikes.
He is a Martinborough boy to start with and worked for the THC, moved to Switzerland as a chef, to the UK and even had a hospitality role with the Miami-based Carnival Cruises for four years.
With a growing reputation as a conference centre, Nelson is now comparable with Queenstown and has a 3 percent share of the local market. It boasts 118,000 delegate days for conferences in 2014 that is extremely high for any regional city.
The hotel itself has always had a strong reputation and the capital outlay over the past seven or eight years has built on this reputation. The directors have been quite pro=active and the ongoing refurbishment is bringing a number of standard rooms up to premium levels – and more are planned in the future.
The hotel was originally a a DB property and came under the ownership of the local well known Talley family with Heritage taking the banner franchise about 15 years ago. Its peak seasonal staff hits around 100 and drops off at lesser times but remains popular with travelling young international workers.
It has a strong f&b influence with its two major restaurants and adds to this appeal with an on-site café inside the main entrance that can seat around 30 people. And its Port of Call bar is also proving popular with locals and guests. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, health club and sauna.