After an increased number of holiday homes in the area and financial pressure, Hanmer Springs' Heritage Hotel will not be reopening after the nationwide lockdown is lifted. Established in 1897, the hotel was originally an 18-room wooden lodge. It was also converted into a hospital for soldiers returning from World War I.
Despite its prominent and iconic location in the centre of the town, GrahamWilkinson, director of Hanmer Management Ltd, said the hotel had seen a slow deterioration of trading conditions in recent years. Forty full time-equivalent jobs will be lost. The company had received the Government's wage subsidy and 100 per cent of that money had gone to their staff.
“The proliferation of holiday homes operating in the Canterbury and Hurunui regions on booking platforms such as Airbnb have seriously undercut hotel occupancy levels," explained Wilkinson. He added that a specialist hotel accountant's report also confirmed the Hanmer operation was not viable for the future.
"It's simply not profitable in any way, shape or form. It's pretty tough for everyone, but the reality is when you see it in the cold light of day, the hotel's always been a bit of a challenge."
Reopening the hotel after lockdown would have also cost a minimum of $300,000 and that money could not be recouped, he said.
The hotel's 66 units are all privately owned and leased back to the hotel. Owners of those units jointly owned the land and buildings, which are run as a body corporate. Wilkinson said the owners of the units would meet soon to decide what to do with the property.
Hanmer Springs Business Association chairman Michael Malthus said he was disappointed the hotel, which was one of the bigger employers in town, was not reopening. "We have always seen it as an anchor of the village," said Malthus. "The Heritage will be a big loss to us in more ways than one, not just as an employer providing a conference and accommodation hub, but the history of the building and the grounds."