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Novotel Christchurch Airport Hotel celebrates first year of uninterupted occupancy

The hotel opened in the tumult of the pandemic and is now set for the city's boom with an average occupancy between 60 and 70 percent

Novotel Christchurch Airport Hotel somewhat represents the city’s return to boom times, following earthquakes, many years of rebuild, the tumult of a pandemic and three years of off-and-on lockdowns.

On June 1, the hotel will hold its first open day and it will be both a milestone and a celebration. Opening at the end of 2019 the hotel has just experienced its first full year of uninterrupted occupancy.

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The 4.5-star, 200-room Novotel Christchurch Airport Hotel is owned by Christchurch International Airport Limited (CIAL) and runs as a Novotel franchise under the management of Hind Management, which also owns and manages New Zealand’s award-winning Sudima Hotels chain.

Average occupancy over the past three months has been between 60 and 70 percent – which hotel manager James Wilson says is good for this time of year, with still-reduced international air traffic and essentially a new hotel only 10 months into consistent operation.

“Domestically we are nearly back up to pre-pandemic visitors, while international is catching up and growing. Conference facilities in particular have been busy, and May is looking very strong,” he said.

“The hotel is attracting businesspeople who want to work and live temporarily in a purpose-built conference setting, with easy access to the buzz and activities of the city, and equally easy departure via the airport. Tourists tell us we are a great place to start or end their trip, and some like to stay longer with us.

“If guests don’t have a car here, there are many buses, including one into town that leaves directly outside the hotel and costs less than $4. Business travellers working in town, can stay with us and have only a 15-minute commute.

“Our team is very optimistic about the rest of this year. As more flights return to Christchurch, it will keep getting busier, and news from the airlines is very positive.”

That good news includes Emirates having restarted its daily A380 Christchurch to Dubai (via Sydney) service in March, and United Airlines announcing a new direct Christchurch to San Francisco service from this December. United will be the only airline to directly connect the United States and the South Island, with a Dreamliner 787 flying three times a week for four months.

Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Justin Watson says the new service responds to Americans’ interest in the South Island.

“The South Island is on Americans’ travel wish list, so this new service will supercharge tourism value to New Zealand. American visitors who enter the country through Christchurch Airport spend 42 percent more in New Zealand and stay 33 percent longer,” he says.  “Government data suggests the seasonal service is likely to bring in $44 million visitor spend for New Zealand, with $32 million of that in South Island regions.”

Christchurch Airport data shows its domestic and international passenger numbers have recovered to 90 percent and 80 percent respectively, compared to pre-pandemic figures. There has been recent strong recovery of tourists visiting friends and relatives, building on the first tourist surge in late 2022.

James Wilson says the revitalised city’s appeal is attracting both local and international visitors. “Christchurch itself looks magnificent – it’s a whole new city and there is so much to be excited about here.

“The International Antarctic Centre is a hugely popular attraction, and Te Pae Convention Centre is a significant addition to Christchurch. As the Gateway to the South Island, we have skifields and lots of winery options, plus our hotel offers excellent restaurant dining, and a phenomenal vista from the Southern Alps to the Port Hills.

“We’re optimistic and excited to see what the rest of the year brings. Our guests tell us they are thrilled to be able to get out and travel again. They have been waiting for this!”

Novotel Christchurch Airport Hotel

Novotel Christchurch Airport Hotel also offers the bespoke ‘Flying South’ theatre, which seats 54 within the airport terminal. The theatre is especially popular with companies which have offices in more than one city, allowing them to fly staff into Christchurch and conduct meetings, conferences, or events without leaving the airport.

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