New Zealand hospitality operator Sudima Hotels has donated time, resources, and money to transform the women’s changing rooms at Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union (CMRFU), as part of a long-standing collaboration between the two organisations.

The hospitality business partnered with local trade suppliers including Ignite Architects, who donated their time and expertise to design and manage the build, with Sudima’s own in-house tradesmen leading the construction and fit-out.

The original changing rooms were missing basic features such as mirrors, and the showers afforded no privacy resulting in many team members opting to go home to shower.

The project saw the changing rooms repainted and refloored with the addition of shelving, a three-door fridge, three shower cubicles, a double vanity, bath towels, and toiletries including period products.

The main room is now kitted out with a laptop and a 55-inch TV for game analysis, as well as multiple power outlets for mobile phone charging and a multiuse sound system. The upgraded wi-fi system has also had the unexpected benefit of improving the signal for emergency services under the stand.

“We met with the Heat players 14 months ago to consult them and take their needs onboard when looking at the changing rooms and asked what was important to them Sudima Hotels Chief Operating Officer, Les Morgan.

“Among other things, they told us they wanted a secure safe space to connect before they go on the field and that meets their needs as a team. And as hoteliers, in conjunction with one of NZ’s leading design companies, we couldn’t help but want to bring some touches of luxury to the space as well.

“In a broader reflection of inequality, women’s rugby has long suffered from underinvestment, despite our world-beating players and the increasing popularity of the women’s game.

“The lesser state of the women’s changing rooms was symptomatic of that and having put up the women’s team in hotels over the years and become invested ourselves in their comfort and the quality of their travel facilities – we even gave them personalised robes! – we decided to lead an upgrade that would make their home changing rooms the best in Aotearoa for the level of luxury and comfort.”

CMRFU Head of Commercial Andrew Philips said he is proud to extend the partnership with Sudima Hotels and finally bring this project to fruition.

“An upgrade to the change room was well overdue but I think it has all worked out for the best and through due process and being able to spend the time consulting with the team we have been able to deliver a top-quality result that will not only meet the team’s needs but gives them the space we know they deserve,” he said.

“Of course, none of this would have been possible without the incredible support of Sudima Hotels. Les and his team have gone above and beyond on this project and as a Union we are really grateful to have such passionate partners that have a true desire to see the women’s game grow at all levels.

“The work and contributions that Sudima have put into this upgrade is something not only our current Heat team can enjoy but our future generations of Heat teams too.”

Sudima Hotels has also donated $10,000 in education grants. Morgan said all parties have benefited greatly from the commercial partnership to date.

“At Sudima Hotels we value community, connection and making a meaningful difference at the heart of every community in which we operate,” he said.
“This is part of the wider vision of contributing to our extended South Auckland whānau, and for leaving a legacy for future players.”