The opening of the new Crowne Plaza Christchurch last weekend has been deemed a runaway success – as hundreds of visitors and locals poured through the doors.
Re-opening in the revitalised city centre, feedback from all who visited or stayed was unwaveringly positive, with many telling staff they had been waiting patiently for the day to come.
As the largest upscale hotel in the Christchurch CBD with 204 modern rooms, a café, bar and restaurant and four modern event spaces, the hotel has positioned itself as a contemporary space for its local community where guests can ‘connect’ to the city.
Just how popular it proved over its opening weekend took even seasoned staff by surprise. After making a last-minute decision to open Café 1851 on Saturday, the decision was more than justified by the sale of more than 300 cups of fresh Mojo coffee.
Market Place bar and restaurant was humming over the weekend with more than 200 customers enjoying the food, wine and service.
Ninety lucky guests were the first to stay in stunning designer rooms with views over the cityscape and out to the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps, and Front Office Manager Krysten Butler was happily surprised by the number of ‘walk-in’ bookings received over the weekend, adding to the 11,000-plus bookings the hotel already has in its system.
The hotel is supporting the local economy in more ways than one, employing approximately 80 staff in a wide range of roles.
Crowne Plaza Christchurch General Manager, Reinier Eulink, said he had received plenty of positive feedback since opening, with people “loving” the way the hotel looks.
“When we finally opened the doors there were a million feelings going on. The sense of excitement was strongest, as well as the relief that we’d finally got there,” he said.
“When we did open there was almost a sense of calm, knowing all the hard work our team had put in had paid off to get us to that point. The numbers in Café 1851 were a real surprise with the levels of sheer interest. It was brilliant to get that response from the local market.”
The hotel’s café attendants and baristas had to agree, saying they served a “big mix” of locals, tourists and families, many of whom spilled out into the lobby area from the café, sitting in front of the fire with a coffee and something tasty from the food selection.
The Scandanavian décor in the café drew special praise from many.
Food and Beverage manager Cody Huxtable said there had been “intense preparation” to get everything ready for opening.
“To see the end product is extremely rewarding. It doesn’t feel like a real hotel until you welcome in the public and see them enjoying themselves. It’s what we do day-in, day-out, so it’s great to finally be open and interacting with our new customers.”
Meanwhile Food and Beverage Projects Manager Serge Fernandes said the original plan had been to open the café on Monday but brought that forward at the last minute.
“As soon as we put the sign up and turned the lights on, people were trying to walk in and get coffee so we took that as a sign they were ready for us! A few guests mentioned they weren’t just happy to have another option in the city, it was about what the hotel represents for the Christchurch with another part ‘restored’.”
Overall feedback from the weekend also included being impressed with the design changes to the building and the Social Wine Bar concept and menu.
“Many of our staff didn’t realise just how closely people in Christchurch had been following our progress, so they loved chatting to them and seeing how excited they were,” said Reinier.
The return of the brand to the city is a significant milestone for the owners of the building and the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).
Crowne Plaza Christchurch was one of three new hotels that IHG added to its portfolio in the region over the weekend, the others being Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley and the Kirkton Park hotel in Australia.
The new Crowne Plaza Christchurch is situated on the corner of Colombo and Armagh streets opposite Victoria Square.