A five-star hotel in the midst of Marlborough’s wine country, sounds like a sure thing in the hospitality industry.
Tourists, who fly in to sample a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and soak up the rays in one of New Zealand’s sunniest spots, used to make up the bulk of Chateau Marlborough’s summer business.
But of course that was pre-Covid times. The clientele over the past 12 months has changed.
Former police officer, turned property developer and hotelier Brent Marshall is the CEO and a Director of Chateau Marlborough. He remains optimistic for the industry’s distant future with one huge caveat – New Zealand avoids more level 4 lockdowns and remains free of Covid community transmissions.
In 2018 & 2019 the Chateau Marlborough was voted New Zealand’s Best Regional Hotel at the prestigious HM Australasian Hotel Awards HM Awards.
“We are a true five star hotel,” says Brent. Which is why they proudly display and meet the strict qualmark standards to call it a five-star hotel. And this an award-winning property proudly features Sleepyhead Commercial Elegance beds.
So how has the past 12 months treated a high end hotel in Blenheim? “We’re in a strong financial position and we’ve weathered the event by budgeting accordingly,” he says. When Covid forced New Zealand into Level 4 lockdown, his hotel stayed open for essential workers associated with the wine industry – which was in the throes of harvest season.
But Brent is quick to point out they are NOT an isolation hotel. However Chateau Marlborough did have to adhere to strict isolation & heath requirements as a hotel open during the lockdown.
Thankfully, the hotel has not had to shut its doors over the past year. However, like many in the industry, there’s been a drop off in room occupancy and room rates have had to follow suit.
“We’ve felt the loss of the international market, particularly over the summer, but this winter the domestic sector picked up as a result of the more New Zealanders discovering their own backyard,” Brent says.
And this 2020/21 summer has seen more holidaying Kiwis that have helped fill the rooms at Chateau Marlborough. Food & beverages has helped keep the doors well and truly open, with their marketing spend pushing the service heavily to local Marlboroughians.
Brent’s optimism for the future hinges on international travellers, especially from the UK and US, who opt to visit ‘safe’ countries that have remained relatively Covid-free during the pandemic once borders start to open.
“I believe the 2022/23 summer should be good, obviously as long as we can control Covid here.” This will also be buoyed by the ageing demographic of overseas tourists, he says.