Cautious optimism over hotel plans

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by Chris Tobin

An announcement that work is expected to begin on the first of two new hotels in Tekapo later this year is being welcomed, but major accommodation concerns remain for the growing tourist town.

Radisson Hotel Group, one of the largest hotel groups in the world, has partnered with Tekapo businessman Anthony Tosswill and his company, NZ Horizons Ltd, to develop a 112-room hotel and a 237-room hotel.

Work is expected to start on the 112-room hotel located just above Lake Tekapo School later this year.

Mackenzie district mayor Graham Smith said the development was in line with the council’s aim to promote the area as a destination, not one that tourists just travelled through.

“We’ve been working with Tony over a number of years. His company owns both sections of land.

“The first one (112 rooms) is OK. It has virtually been over the line for some time.

“The second one in Lakeside Dr has the odd issue that have still to be sorted.”

However, he said the new hotels would “compound” a problem regarding insufficient accommodation in the town, particularly for workers, and there were other challenges.

“Owners from all over New Zealand have built homes here and [are] using them as BnBs, like mini-hotels.”

With the district having increased numbers of tourists and BnBs, the district’s small number of ratepayers were having to bear the cost of dealing with such matters as increased rubbish.

“Ratepayers shouldn’t be having to subsidise tourism,” Mr Smith said.

He favoured the idea of the government paying back a percentage of GST from income generated through tourism in the region.

“The government gets $300million out of tourism in this region. Paying back 15% of GST collected would give us the thick end of $50million, which at the moment all goes into the government coffers.”

Radisson Hotel Group said the 112-room hotel would be branded as Park Inn by Radisson Lake Tekapo and was expected to open in the second quarter of 2021.

It was hoped The Radisson Blu Resort Lake Tekapo, in Lakeside Dr near the Four Square supermarket, would open in late 2022.

The resort would feature restaurants and bars, a fitness centre, spa, heated indoor swimming pool and conference and banqueting space.

Mr Tosswill has joined with Radisson Hotel Group and his company, Remarkables Hotel Ltd, to also develop two hotels in Queenstown close to the airport and a proposed cable car that would connect to the Remarkables ski fields.

One hotel would be a 171-room complex and the other would have 257 rooms. Both were planned to open late in 2022.

“Through strategic partnerships such as the one we have forged with Radisson Hotel Group, we are moving closer to our objective of providing globally relevant tourism assets that meet New Zealand’s ever-increasing accommodation requirements,” Mr Tosswill said in a media statement.

The Tekapo businessman is behind a stalled proposal to build a five-star hotel opposite the Town Hall in Dunedin.