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Hamilton’s Le Grand Hotel

Plans unveiled for boutique hotel complex

Hamilton’s Le Grand Hotel block is in for a name change, a new life as a conference venue, and a major extension of up to 70 serviced apartments after being sold to an Auckland hotel group.

VR Group, a private company that manages about 1000 apartments and has small hotels in Auckland, Queenstown and Denver, Colorado, plans to demolish the former old Farmers building on the shabby corner of Alexander and Collingwood streets for a serviced apartment complex as soon as it has consent from the Hamilton City Council, said a spokesman for new Le Grand director Udai Sarin.

Le Grand, a boutique hotel that has been on the market for mortgagee sale for many months, will be renamed Hamilton City Oaks from October 1, said the spokesman. The name Le Grand “does not have a good position in the market”, he said.

The hotel will be refurbished, and its conference potential unleashed by opening spaces that could handle 600 people but which were “never opened”.

A 3.5-to-4-star-grade serviced-apartment hotel would rise behind the hotel, providing up to 30 jobs, the spokesman said. Development of the hotel’s unrealised conference venue potential would create around 25 additional casual jobs.

VR’s plans would be “good for the city”. “At the moment the back area [of the hotel] is an eyesore.”

The land on which the Le Grand block stands will still be owned by the Methodist Church and is not part of the sale deal, said Bayleys agent Mike Adams.

The purchase price is unknown. The capital value of the land and buildings is around $7 million.

The VR spokesman said the city council was supportive of the company’s plans and demolition of the old Farmers building could start in two months if consent was granted.

VR Hotels is a private New Zealand-registered company with annual revenues of $30 million to $40 million, and employs around 200 people, he said.

It is considered the fastest growing hotel company in New Zealand and prides itself on all its accommodation having an 87 per cent-plus occupancy rate, he said.

A French restaurant was opening in the hotel, which is now open for business under the VR brand, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, SkyCity has confirmed it is buying the ANZ building adjacent to its casino complex in Victoria St, Hamilton.

The company said the purchase of the 1970s-vintage building showed its continued confidence in the Hamilton operations and commitment to the Waikato region.

“The purchase represents an opportunity to increase our strategic land bank and comes after we have recently announced plans for a $35 million high-quality hotel,” said spokesman G J Thompson.

He said it was too early to go into detail about SkyCity’s plans for the site. However, the Waikato Times gathers the building will be demolished.

– Waikato Times via