Minor Hotels is investing its New Zealand portfolio with major renovations taking place at key Oaks properties, as Minor Hotels Area Manager New Zealand, Jamie O’Donnell, explains.

Jamie, tell us a bit about the hotels under your remit and how they differ? 

With a presence in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown, Minor Hotels has solid coverage in key destinations across New Zealand.

Oaks Wellington Hotel is one of our full-service hotels and I was fortunate to manage the building during the construction and launch phase in September 2019. The property also features the widely popular Oak and Vine restaurant which was recognised by TripAdvisor in the top 10 Everyday Eats in New Zealand.

Our Queenstown portfolio also offers spectacular Serviced Apartment accommodation and is centrally located just outside of Queenstown itself, with unobstructed views of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. 

Oaks Queenstown Club Resort is currently undergoing a full remediation plan and we are working alongside our stakeholders to focus on a superb outcome and relaunch of the property in 2025.

Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort is in the final stage of remediation, with many of our new Premier rooms currently available to book. Our guests have been thoroughly enjoying the new room product throughout 2023.

Under the Avani brand, we have upscale Serviced Apartment accommodation in Auckland, Avani Auckland Metropolis Residences, located in the iconic Metropolis building.

How will the renovation of Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort enhance the offering? 

The property is being fully remediated, and we are looking forward to launch of Stage 2 of the project just in time for the Christmas trade to Queenstown.

This will mean both front blocks will be in operation with unobstructed views, with all construction works occurring behind them. 

These rooms will be the newest in town with enviable features such as smart room automation, and some with spas on the balcony overlooking the view of The Remarkables, creating the perfect social media shot.

The final phase, which is being undertaken, now will deliver not only a significant number of refurbished rooms, but premium common areas and facilities including a restaurant and bar delivering the best of the region’s produce, a day spa, fitness centre and conference space. This will align with the significant opportunities we see globally in the health and wellness space.

How have Minor Hotels across New Zealand performed this year?

2023 has been a very positive year for us across the country by all metrics and I am extremely proud of our teams and what we have delivered. This performance has been very welcomed given the extensive cost increases that have been incurred across all facets of the business that are out of our direct control. 

Our election in mid-October will cause some slowing of performance for our CBD locations, as is to be expected, however events and our key partnerships will continue to deliver solid performance. 

The most rewarding part within our performance is the growth within our customer experience metrics and something we remain very focused on maintaining at a high standard.

Tell us about the recovery of domestic and international travel? 

The rate of recovery in each region has been varied and ever since lockdown ceased last year, we saw the explosion of domestic travel across our network from June 2022.

Currently the domestic traveller has embraced the ability to travel overseas and enjoy the winter climate in Australia or Asia, with many of our global Minor Hotels properties reporting kiwis enjoying our services overseas. 

The opening of Takina Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wellington is a game changer for the city, and one which we intend to fully support for the continued success of Wellington as an event destination.

Have large events like the FIFA Women’s World Cup had a positive impact?

Yes, the event was sensational for New Zealand’s hospitality and tourism industries, with Oaks observing high occupancy from a range of domestic and international guests.

Many other events such as concerts, tournaments, film production and conferences are critical in continuing to support our tourism infrastructure and delivering solid economic benefit to New Zealand. Iconic events ahead for Wellington include World of Wearable Arts in Wellington which is one not to miss.

What other important projects are you working on currently across the network? 

Opportunities for further portfolio growth and development across the country remains a key focus. We are engaging with our hotel school Asian Institute of Hospitality Management (AIHM), founded by Minor Hotels, and formulating a management trainee programme for the country.