New Zealand is looking at a strong 2013 in the business event sector, and it has plenty of new product for support.
In New Zealand’s north and south islands business event activity is looking strong for 2013.
One destination expecting to host a growing number of business events is Rotorua, which continues to evolve as a C&I destination.
The inner-city Quest Rotorua Central apartments is the latest new accommodation option which was launched in November. The purpose-built 36-room complex boasts a range of apartment sizes – from studio and one and two-bedroom interconnecting apartments through to executive studio and one-bedroom apartments with their own private balcony and spa pool.
Key domestic jet services have also returned this summer on the Rotorua to Queenstown via Christchurch route, increasing capacity by 1800 seats a week from November 2012 to March 2013. The jet service will be operating daily, excluding Friday, during this period. Customers will also enjoy a reduction in the total time of their journey of approximately half an hour.
On the product front, there are some great new experiences recently launched including Rotorua Canopy Tours which opened in August. This is New Zealand’s first zipline eco-tour. The experience offers a chance to explore 1.2km of untouched native forest through an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, ziplines and swing bridges. The longest zipline, a massive 220 metres, combines the thrill of flying with breathtaking views of unexplored forest valleys.
In other news, Rotorua’s Te Ara Ahi cycleway (Thermal by Bike) which is one of the 18 great rides within the New Zealand Cycle Trail network, opened on November 29. The 72km long trail showcases the Rotorua region’s history, attractions, geothermal activity, forest and rivers.
Cruise and Fish Rotorua recently expanded its options to utilise two of Rotorua’s most scenic trout-rich lakes – Lake Tarawera, featuring Nimue, and Lake Rotoiti, featuring Elusive. The 10 metre (33ft) Nimue catamaran is a Kelsall Power Cat surveyed for 20 people. Its generous five metre beam provides guests with a spacious, stable and comfortable environment. It also makes it the perfect party or fishing platform from which to take in Lake Tarawera’s beauty.
Popular event company, Event Impressions, has created The Lady In Red theme which was used for the welcome function at MEETINGS 2012 and hosted at the Hilton Auckland. Tradeshow delegates and exhibitors had their breath taken away by the sight and sound of Rotorua soprano Evelyn Falconer positioned at the top of a two-tier staircase.
Set off by a huge gold frame and masses of red roses, The Lady in Red wore a stunning red satin gown featuring a 30 metre train which cascaded down the full length of the stairs to create a spectacular waterfall effect. The train and staircase were further enhanced with masses of candles and single red roses.
Not to be outdone, Events and Venues Rotorua recently launched the STAGE dinners at Rotorua’s refurbished Civic Theatre in a 23 metre high stage-house, with an enhanced flying system and a deep stage with wide wings. The new concept (with a capacity of up to 150 guests) means that organisers are able to create dramatic, scene-setting backdrops; anything from an Amazon jungle scene to a stylish Parisian street café.
They are also able to utilise large format imagery to simulate options like dining at the top of Mt Tarawera or deep in the Whakarewarewa Forest.
In other news:
- Polynesian Spa completed a stylish upgrade of its deluxe spa therapy wing in July 2012, with a top-to-toe refurbishment adding even more ambience to the retreat’s five spa therapy rooms and two relaxation lounges.
- Rotorua’s Wai Ora Day Spa made it two in a row by winning several categories in the New Zealand categories of the 2012 World Luxury Spa Awards announced in April 2012.
- A unique wine experience is to be added to Rotorua’s food and wine line-up with the pairing of a young winery with iconic tourism attraction Skyline Rotorua. Initially the new partnership with Volcanic Hills Wines means Skyline Restaurant diners can opt to match a meal with Volcanic Hills wines. This new option has been followed by the opening of a tasting room this month (December 2012).
- Multi Day Adventures has launched a heli-biking offering with HeliPro where riders are taken on a 30 minute flight into Whirinaki Forest to ride the renowned Moerangi Trail.
- Rotorua Paddle Tours has added a new Lake Tarawera option to the line up. Launched in mid-September, the new tour gives visitors the opportunity to do some stand up paddle boarding on legendary, yet secluded Lake Tarawera.
- Rotorua-based Xquizit Limousines and Tours has recently added a new Ford G6 executive sedan to its modern fleet of luxury transport and tour services to corporate, tourism and wedding clients.
SKYCITY strengthens team
Two of Auckland’s restaurants with the best views over New Zealand’s largest city, Orbit Revolving Restaurant and the Observatory Restaurant are creating plenty of buzz following the appointment of two new executive chefs earlier this year.
Orbit Revolving Restaurant welcomed chef Jean-Christophe Varnier to the venue. Chef Varnier has worked around the world including Australia, England, France, Tahiti and New Zealand where more recently he was head chef and owner of St Tropez in Parnell, Auckland from 1999 until his move to Orbit this year. With more than 20 years’ experience in the food industry Jean-Christophe brings a new flavour and style to Orbit with the launch of a new dinner and lunch menu.
“Besides the great 360 degree view of Auckland, I’m really looking forward to working with some really talented chefs,” chef Varnier said following his appointment.
In other news Sky Tower’s brasserie-style buffet restaurant specialising in seafood, Observatory Restaurant, has welcomed chef Loreto Bembo. Chef Bembo has nearly 30 years’ experience in the kitchen working around the world including the US where he worked for Princess Cruises onboard their cruise ships, Australia and New Zealand. Previous to his move to Observatory, chef Bembo worked as executive chef at the Distinction Hotel, Rotorua.
“I am so delighted to join one of the biggest hospitality employers in the country. I’ve been engaged in the hospitality business for many years and it’s a merit for me to have the opportunity to join the culinary work force at SKYCITY,” he said.
2013 is shaping up to be a good year with Queenstown venues confirming bookings of groups from 15 to 400 delegates. October and April are great times of the year to visit with great availability in the hotels and an action-packed events calendar. These are also idyllic times of year for golfing and exploring the bike trails in Queenstown followed by an award-winning glass of Central Otago pinot noir or riesling.
Looking further into the future, a proposed 800-seat convention centre is on the agenda for Queenstown. Destination Queenstown and other key agencies are working with Queenstown Lakes District Council to guide the development and a Request for Proposals (RFP) to construct, manage and operate the facility is currently underway.
In other news, The Winehouse is now operating as a specialist venue for functions and events with three different function spaces and seating for up to 160 people. This historic homestead nestled among the vines at the gateway to Gibbston Valley offers beautiful gardens, rugged scenery, and the very best of Central Otago food, wine, and hospitality.
Heritage Queenstown is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment. Every deluxe room and suite will offer a sophisticated ambience with repainted and wallpapered rooms, new furniture, wall coverings, artwork, and entertainment systems.
Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa has unveiled a new conference suite called the Ambassador Room, adding to its chic range of meeting and incentive spaces. The new space provides greater freedom to tailor-make events. The Ambassador Room can cater for a maximum of 80 guests theatre or cocktail-style. For increased versatility, The Ambassador Room interconnects into The Boardroom which can hold up to 120 guests cocktail-style.