After travelling around the North Island and staying in a few different hotels, Neil Barber considered most of them nice but lacking character. Upon coming across Art Deco Masonic Hotel in Napier, however, he said it couldn’t be resisted.

Built in 1932, the complete refurbishment of the hotel was designed to restore and enhance the Art Deco features while introducing modern comforts expected by guests.

It involved a total makeover of the 1932 Art Deco building, which included two bars and restaurants, 42 hotel guest rooms, functions and meeting facilities.

Now the director of Art Deco Masonic Hotel, Barber said that all in all, staying at the hotel was one of his best experiences during his 10 days travelling the country.

“The Art Deco Masonic was different, right from the Masonic symbols on the ceiling of the lobby and the floor of the elevator to the gorgeous room with balcony patio access and a view of the seafront.”

Located on the waterfront in Napier South, the hotel was purchased in 1998 by Barber as a property investment with a sitting tenant, and in 2010 the opportunity arose to take over operational management of the hotel.

“We took a year’s time out to review the business dynamics and to establish a plan of attack.

“The major refurbishment commenced in the winter of 2012, which involved renovating 10 hotel rooms and creating Emporium Eatery & Bar.”

Barber said conducting changes around an operating hotel was the biggest challenge of undertaking the refurbishment.

“Not only did we need to consider the quiet enjoyment of hotel guests but we needed to offer continuity of employment to our team of staff.

Over the next two winters all the hotel rooms were refurbished and in 2014 these efforts began to gain recognition, with Art Deco being awarded winner of Best New/Redeveloped Accommodation Hotel in the Hospitality NZ Awards for Excellence.
A visit was made to Auckland’s Hotel de Brett, a hotel of the same era, which helped spark inspiration and ideas.

“We commissioned an Art Deco-inspired carpet which is striped and contains a palette of nine different colours. This carpet has been used throughout the entire hotel, and the interior décor has been designed to complement this dramatic carpet.

“The hotel is beautifully fitted out. The bannister of Kauri wood to the second floor is sensual to the touch.”

Art Deco has now won TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice award for three years in a row from 2014 to 2016. This speaks volumes for itself, as well as the hotel being ranked number five on TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Hotels in New Zealand.

The hotel’s occupancy rates were at 85 percent in February 2014, their busiest month, which rose to 95 percent in 2016. Similarly, the average room rate was $162 in 2014, and this rose to $218 in 2016.
In 2015, the Art Deco Masonic was recognised once again; winning Supreme Champion and Best Accommodation in the Hospitality NZ Awards for Excellence.