Christchurch airport 'ticks a box' in building 200-room Novotel for short stays

Artist’s impression of the 4.5 star hotel to open at Christchurch airport by the end of 2017.

Christchurch airport is "ticking a box" for short-stay accommodation with plans to build a 200-room Novotel hotel for late-night flyers.

The airport company is spending $80 million on the 4.5 star hotel, set to open by the end of 2017. It confirms details of hotel plans first announced in 2015.

Christchurch International Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns said the Novotel ticked a box for the city, which needed more short-term accommodation around the airport.

Many flights from Asia and Australia arrived in the evening and travellers expected to be able to stay within walking distance of the terminal, he said.

The hotel would be between the terminal building and part of the existing long-term car park.

Airlines were regularly asking what hotels Christchurch was developing to fill the shortage after the earthquakes, he said.

The airport had been handling a raft of new arrivals from Singapore Airlines, China Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Qantas and Virgin.

The airport was on target to reach 6.3 million passengers for the full year - up from 5.9 million the year before - and tourism numbers were expected to keep rising next summer.

Still, the average time that visitors stayed in Christchurch was one night, compared to two nights before the earthquakes.

Johns said estimates from Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism suggested the city was short of 800 hotel rooms and airlines saw the lack of accommodation as a "big risk".

Airlines had asked for up to 400 additional rooms near the terminal but the airport company had decided 200 was enough for now, he said.

It had considered factors such as estimates for passenger growth, tourism and the likelihood of more hotels being built in the central city.

Passenger numbers would have to rise again sharply before the airport added those extra rooms or built another hotel on its property, Johns said.

The airport has also spent $10m on a 280-bed Jucy Snooze backpackers beside its Spitfire Square retail precinct.

It has developed several commercial and industrial precincts on its property and last year looked at the feasibility of a 300-room hotel at the airport. After doing market research and taking independent advice it decided to build a 200-room hotel.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Vic Allen said the hotel would hopefully encourage other hotel developers to build down town. They would want to be sure of year-round trade before they started building there, he said.

"It should send a message that the airport is very confident of the tourism flows."

Airport spokeswoman Yvonne Densem said Novotel would lease the hotel for 10 years on one of its standard hotel management contracts. Christchurch Airport's $80m for the development would cover the cost of the land, services, buildings and fittings.

She said over the past two years the airport had worked to ensure Christchurch was capturing its share of the growing tourism industry.

About 800,000 airline seats a year had been added by airline serving the airport, a growth rate of about 10 per cent.

"We expect to see growth continue over the next few years and with it growing opportunity for the Christchurch tourism sector."

Novotel has more than 450 hotels in 61 countries and this would be its ninth in New Zealand. The chain is part of the AccorHotels group which has 3700 sites in more than 90 countries.

 - Stuff