Derek Webb, General Manager, Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel

Derek Webb boasts an extensive background of more than 25 years in hotel and resort management across five Pacific island countries and New Zealand.

Initially, the owner of a hotel just south of Nelson in the 90s, Webb later moved on to managing hotels for other owners in New Zealand. From a country hotel in Waikato to transforming a five-story hotel into a backpacker hostel in downtown Auckland.

In the early 2000s, Webb progressed his hospitality journey offshore, managing Club Raro Resort in Rarotonga and, subsequently, a beautiful five-star 105-room hotel in Samoa. Other properties Webb oversaw include the Grand Hotel and Casino in Vanuatu and the beachfront boutique resort, Stevensons at Manase, located on Savai’i Island, Samoa. Webb’s last appointment in the Islands was at Aga Reef Resort, a waterfront resort on the South Coast of Samoa, as General Manager.

As of December 2020, Derek Webb now serves as a general manager with his wife at the historical Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel in South Waikato.

Established in the 1880s, the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel is listed with the Heritage Association of New Zealand. Steeped in history, the boutique accommodation is nestled amongst 70 acres of natural beauty on the banks of the Waihou River, featuring an onsite hot spring, a nine-hole golf course and a tennis court.

“Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel has been in operation since 1886; it is one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in New Zealand,” said Webb. “We pride ourselves on delivering a personal experience to our guests with three therapeutic Thermal Hot Pools known throughout New Zealand, a challenging nine-hole Golf Course and a busy Camp Ground.”

Over the years, Webb has noticed that guests have become much more demanding in ensuring they receive value for money.

“I have found that being average is not enough anymore with respect to service across the board.”

The global COVID-19 outbreak has heavily impacted the hospitality industry, with guests becoming more nervous about close interaction with others outside their group. Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel has taken extra steps in its cleaning schedules to reassure guests that spaces are entirely safe.

Prior to the pandemic, the heritage-listed hotel’s prominent guest demographic was the Asian market. With the absence of international tourists, the guest profile now comprises local residents taking advantage of the specials. “That will change once the borders are fully open,” said Webb.

When border restrictions are completely lifted, the owners of Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel have plans to expand the rooms from 21 to over 40 to cater for the eventual increase in tourist numbers.

The hotel also looks forward to hosting its second two-day music festival, The Weekend at Okoroire. “Due to COVID, this year’s sold-out event, 3000 tickets were unfortunately cancelled.”

“As a General Manager of any hotel, it is essential to treat your staff as your most important asset, nurture them, train them well, and promote them from within if possible, and your business will prosper,” concluded Webb. “My journey with hospitality has been tremendously satisfying over many years, and I have been blessed to have had the trust of owners to grow their businesses.”