A Canterbury couple who fought a government agency for 20 years for consent to build hotel accommodation within easy reach of Aoraki Mt Cook are now selling their hard-won permit.
Mary and Charlie Hobbs are selling a development right to the “last hotel” in Aoraki Mt Cook Village, where Department of Conservation (DOC) controls the surrounding national park’s prized commercial area.
The couple were granted a DOC concession to build a 35-unit boutique hotel and spa development in the south Canterbury alpine village, beside a protected conservation area, Mowen Bush.
Mary said waiting for the hotel permit had been like a Christchurch hotel developer applying to build in Cathedral Square in 2011 and not getting consent until 2021. Their priorities had changed over the years, she said.
“I’m not in my twenties or thirties anymore.”
They put their hotel and spa up for sale soon after DOC granted it.
The Hobbs’ also own the Old Mountaineer’s Café Restaurant, and Charlie runs several guiding businesses around Aoraki Mt Cook.
The couple have recruited real estate firm Colliers to find a buyer for their DOC authorization right. A buyer would get a 3000 square metre hotel and spa block, 1.5 ha of landscaping and an 1890sq/metre accommodation block for hotel staff.
Colliers is promoting the hotel and spa as “the last visitor accommodation site available [in the park] with a direct line of sight to Aoraki/Mt Cook.”
DOC told the couple the site was the last place in the village where it would be possible to build a hotel, partly because of the lay of the land in the area.
Mary wrote a book about the couple’s disagreements with DOC and the village’s long-standing hotel operator, The Hermitage over the right to run a competing business within the national park.
She said they had put their previous disagreements with DOC and The Hermitage behind them. The prospective new spa would tap tourism’s health and wellness market, as well as meeting strong demand for accommodation in the village, she said.
Colliers agent Barry Robertson said hotel and spa facilities like the proposed Aoraki Mt Cook site were popular and there was a shortage of tourist accommodation to cater for it.