Home' Hospitality Business : HB JUL 2016 Contents HULBERT HOUSE
68 Ballarat Street, Queenstown
Ph: 03 4428767
A Japanese billionaire with a passion for
heritage buildings has poured millions of
dollars into renovating and restoring one
of Queenstown’s grand old ladies of the
gold rush era – Hulbert House - into a
high-end boutique hotel.
The stately weatherboard 1880’s villa,
overlooking stunning Queenstown Bay and
township, has been lovingly transformed
with no expense spared into a charming
six-suite, $950 to $1050 a night hotel.
Auckland-based high-profile Japanese
heritage restoration investor and owner
Soichiro Fukutake has partnered with
experienced hoteliers, the Kawamura
family, to operate the hotel. The
Kawamuras own The George Hotel in
Christchurch, operate Christchurch’s Hotel Montreal and own
Soichiro is famous for turning Japan’s former industrial island,
Naoshima, into a major world art destination and says restoring
old buildings to their former glory to benefit communities has
long been his passion. He’s gone to great lengths to reflect the
19th Century spirit of extravagance and create a totally authentic
feel, right down to every intricate interior detail of that era.
Auckland designer Neil McLachlan, renowned for his role on
TV’s Changing Rooms and Hot Property, has cleverly stamped an
authentic Victorian imprint throughout the hotel, which features
lavish chandeliers, French antiques and wrought iron balustrades.
Even the Chinese willow pattern carpet was especially designed
by Neil and tailor-made in England out of pure New Zealand wool.
Large historic framed photographs from Queenstown’s bygone
gold rush era adorn the walls of the restored staircase winding to
the upstairs suites, which command spectacular Lake Wakatipu
and mountain views.
Soichiro, who has undertaken similar heritage restoration
projects in and around Auckland, says history is important for
the inheritance of Queenstown and all New Zealanders. He
hopes to not only leave the living Victorian
masterpiece to the community as a
timeless museum, but allow the locals to
enjoy it as well. “It’s my future dream to
invite local people inside to show them
this house and for it to become an iconic
symbol of Queenstown,” he said at the
launch. Open days and garden parties are
planned to open up the hotel to the public.
Hulbert House was built during the
height of the gold rush in 1887 by receiver
of gold, Horatio Nelson Firth. In 1901 Firth
was sent to prison for embezzlement and
his wife ran the property as a boarding
house. Hulbert House manager Vicki
Bretherton says the home has flitted in
and out of hospitality ever since and has an
incredibly interesting and unique historic
back story. “It was run as a nursing home
during the 1920’s, a refuge for young girls
during the threat of war in the early 1940’s,
and then a maternity home later that decade,” she says.
Vicki, well-known for her hotel management roles in the South
Island, has previously managed Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort,
Millennium and Heritage hotels. She returned from Christchurch
to launch the plush new boutique hotel. Bookings are looking
impressive for the upcoming busy season. “We’ve had a lot of
interest for the summer season already and a very good response
from wholesalers and agents handling the US, UK, European,
Australian markets, and New Zealand,” says Vicki.
There’s a strong emphasis on homemade in the delicious
breakfast buffet offerings where guests can enjoy everything
from a traditional cooked breakfast to chia seed, date puree
and raspberry pots. Warm sourdough is baked fresh daily the
traditional way and teamed up with either homemade peanut
or almond butters, marmalades, jams or hot or cold smoked
salmon. Even the Canterbury-produced honey has a great hive to
plate story. Pre-dinner drinks are served with delicious canapes
in the cosy Victorian-style bar, which serves Central Otago’s top
wines, sparkling wines and craft beers.
“We’re pitching to free independent travellers, but also hoping to
attract some small high end conferences and weddings,” says Vicki.
On the Menu:
Breakfast buffet items include Chia
seed, date puree and raspberry pots
and a Middle Eastern-style poached
egg with lentils and paprika
A truly grand opening
14 | July 2016 | Hospitality BUSINESS
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