Holiday Inn Express & Suites Queenstown rises to meetings challenge

Out of adversity comes opportunity, and Queenstown’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites is proof of that. The 227-room hotel opened to guests on July 10 last year, in what might be described as “challenging times”.

Out of adversity comes opportunity, and Queenstown’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites is proof of that.

The 227-room hotel opened to guests on July 10 last year, in what might be described as “challenging times”.

And it rose to that challenge not only in the domestic leisure market but in targeting the meetings and incentive market and building a reputation in less than 12 months for delivering outstanding events.

To date, the property has hosted three exclusive events – a five-day incentive in October, an aged care ‘buyout’ in February and a lawyer’s conference just last month.

It has also run residential and non-residential events on a weekly basis in its smaller Tahuna and Kopaka meeting rooms with great feedback. Much of that business has been word-of-mouth and referrals.

At MEETINGS in Auckland on June 2-3, attended by IHG Key Account Director New Zealand Matthew Cornelissen, it is launching its new meetings kit.

“Our hotel is the smart choice for accommodation, meetings and events with two multi-function spaces and group accommodation available,” says General Manager Jason Sabin.

“We meet and exceed every expectation for businesses looking for everything from boardroom meetings up to a larger cocktail event in our outstanding Great Room.”

“From the moment we stepped into the building we firmly believed the Great Room design, with its modern, contemporary alpine vibe, high ceilings, amazing mountain outlook and central bar and reception meant it would make an amazing venue space.

“Making the most of all our unique spaces, even our Ember Outdoor Lounge with its inviting fire pit off the northern end of the Great Room is a fantastic space for a smaller cocktail function, BBQ lunch event or the perfect spot for a Central Otago pinot at the end of the day.”

Testimonials to date tell the story, including business won after Sales and Marketing Director Kylie Walker conducted a two-hour virtual site inspection, sight unseen. PCO Moni Collins organised that event, one of the first large events to come to Queenstown post-Covid for a company which had originally planned to go to Buenos Aires.

“The staff and management do wonders with a level of hospitality that is top class, and with its location on the edge of town the hotel provides easy access to the sights and sounds of Queenstown,” says Mr Collins.

“After making Covid-necessary changes to our international destination and moving our event to the adventure capital of the world, we couldn’t be happier with the results, given the fantastic feedback from all conference delegates, largely due to the efficiency and quality of the hotel staff.”

The aged care business involved in the buyout in February loved the conference so much they re-booked for next year, and a prominent law group that visited last month said they were the “best team we have worked with in 22 years of their conferences.”

Jason says that while Holiday Inn Express is a new brand to New Zealand, not historically associated with large conference and incentive business, the Queenstown property has shown how it naturally lends itself to MICE business.

“It’s been rewarding to have these wins despite the interesting first year we’ve faced, and we’re looking forward to more borders opening and welcoming more events of all shapes and sizes in the future,” he says.

“If there’s one thing the past year has taught us it’s to think on our feet, be creative around what we have to offer, and trust in the quality of our venue, our events and the ability of our staff to deliver.”

Read More

Award-winning distillery celebrates birthday and tourism resurgence with Queenstown Edition Gin  

A multi-award-winning distillery in the heart of Queenstown is celebrating the region’s resilience with an exclusive Queenstown Edition Gin. 

A multi-award-winning distillery in the heart of Queenstown is celebrating the region’s resilience with an exclusive Queenstown Edition Gin.

The limited-edition gin has been released by Broken Heart Spirits to mark its ninth birthday, described as ‘warming and rounded’ to sooth the tastebuds in the heart of winter.

On the eve of its release Broken Heart owner and master distiller Joerg Henkenhaf and his team had reason to celebrate further, with news the Queenstown Edition Gin was awarded gold in the NZ Spirits Awards 2021.

The awards are in their third year and celebrate the growth in world-class spirits produced by ever-increasing numbers of New Zealand distillers, benchmarked against overseas imported spirits.

The Queenstown Edition Gin becomes the twelfth product in a wide range of locally crafted gins, rums, whiskies and liqueurs produced by the distillery.

It combines botanical essences from its Navy Strength Gin (which weighs in at an impressive 57% proof) with the alcohol content of the company’s Original Gin, creating a new and unique flavour profile.

Joerg says the Queenstown Edition Gin is reflective of the unique Central Otago landscape and seasons. It’s distilled in Arrowtown using untouched pure spring water from Paradise, flowing from Mount Aspiring National Park.

Authenticity and simplicity are at the heart of the outstanding spirits created by Joerg, who comes from a German family where making wine, cider and schnapps was part of everyday life and recipes passed through the generations.

He develops his own recipes for the eleven natural botanicals across the flavour profiles of spice, floral, dry, freshness and earthiness which are ‘carried’ by the alcohol and captured in each bottle.

“This gin celebrates what Queenstown is all about, it’s Queenstown in a bottle,” says Joerg.

“I like my gins to be clean and clear. The more alcohol, the more flavour it can hold, but I create a balanced gin where the potency of the botanicals creates a different flavour profile while still being super-simple.

“Whether visitors or locals have spent a day on the slopes, on the trails or on the golf course, sitting down to a glass of this with tonic and a sprig of thyme or rosemary captures the essence of Queenstown’s heart.”

The story of Broken Heart is one OF a broken heart, when Joerg’s good friend Bernd Schnabel, with whom he’d spent three years working on a gin recipe, died two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

“It was a very sad time and my heart was broken, so I decided that I could share this superb gin with the world and call it Broken Heart in his memory.

“All these years later I’m still inspired to create new things. A recipe is something which starts in your head, it’s all about smelling and tasting.

“At the start, my dream was to see my bottle in a bar in Auckland and today we’re selling gin and our other spirits in 18 countries and winning awards. I live for Broken Heart, it’s my life.”

Those awards keep rolling in – last month Broken Heart learned its Navy Strength Gin had been awarded a Gold Award and its Spiced Whisky a Bronze Award at the Tokyo Whisky and Spirit Competition 2021.

Those keen to buy the Queenstown Edition Gin should head to for a limited time only.

Read More


Delays in nutting out the detail of new accessibility legislation are frustrating and detrimental to the wellbeing of close to three million New Zealanders*, says Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand (DFNZ).

Delays in nutting out the detail of new accessibility legislation are frustrating and detrimental to the wellbeing of close to three million New Zealanders*, says Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand (DFNZ).

The Government has already committed to introducing critical legislation to accelerate accessibility, enabling New Zealand to become more welcoming and accessible for disabled people and others with accessibility needs, for example through being neurodivergent, blind/low vision, and/or ageing.

Disability Issues Minister Hon. Carmel Sepuloni was expected to put a proposal to Cabinet this month detailing this legislation. This has now been delayed until September.

DFNZ Chair of Trustees Guy Pope-Mayell says the delays are being attributed to more time being needed for officials to complete an analysis of options for new legislation.

“We understand, and are supportive of, the need to get it right. At the same time, we’d like to see more urgency in prioritising this life-changing piece of legislation,” Pope-Mayell says.

“It is estimated close to three million New Zealanders with permanent access needs stand to benefit from this legislation. Delays at this stage just prolong the inequities and difficulties of everyday life.

Currently, the burden is on people with access needs to fight for their right to accessible housing, transport, information, workplace, and digital spaces. This is discriminatory, and exhausting.”

“There is also a whole raft of people with short-term circumstances who experience daily barriers to goods and services, including carers of young children, people with English as a second language, and those with short term injuries. These people also will benefit from legislation that removes the barriers.”

Pope-Mayell says it is important that everyone understands that access needs are not something ‘other people’ have. All of us are susceptible if circumstances change or due to ages and stages of life.

“This new legislation will touch all our lives. Broken a leg, or sprained an ankle, making it harder to get around? Couldn’t get through a shop door with a pushchair? Found it difficult to get about with young children or a disabled relative or friend? Struggled to navigate a website that is important to you? Then you have experienced access needs,” he says.

In essence, access needs are difficulties accessing physical environments, transportation, and facilities and services open or provided to the public, as well as products, services, information and communications, including technology and systems. The proposed new legislation will set the initial bar, and progressively lift it over time for accessibility and equity, providing explicit expectations backed by enforceable regulations. In simple terms it will facilitate the identification and removal of barriers.

The impetus for new accessibility legislation has come from the Access Alliance, which comprises a growing number of organisations from the disability and neurodiversity sectors, working with a range of business champions , and nearly 7000 individual supporters, representing and advocating for people with access needs.

DFNZ joined the Access Alliance in January, as a Supporting Organisation and a Campaign Partner. The Alliance says the proposed legislation has the support of all major Parliamentary parties.

“This drive for new legislation acknowledges that current Human Rights legislation is insufficient. It does not set clear and specific expectations on accessibility and it has no teeth.  In contrast, we expect the new legislation to do all this and more. And the sooner it is introduced the better,” Pope-Mayell says.

*Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand, based on international occurrence, conservatively estimates at least 10% of the New Zealand population have dyslexia, and at least 20% collectively have some form of neuro-difference, such as Asperger’s, Autism, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Blind Low Vision NZ estimates 180,000 New Zealanders are blind or have low vision.

The 2013 New Zealand Disability Survey estimated that a total of 1.1 million New Zealanders were disabled (Disability Survey: 2013, Statistics New Zealand). Disability was defined as any self-perceived limitation in activity resulting from a long-term condition or health problem lasting or expected to last 6 months or more and not completely eliminated by an assistive device. People were not considered to have a disability if an assistive device such as glasses or crutches eliminated their impairment.

2018 New Zealand Census. Seniors (over 65) comprise 15.22% of the population, or 715,173 people.

Read More

Prime land for sale after 108 years to help fund business growth  

A parcel of land with historic connections to the early development of Queenstown’s Frankton Flats is up for sale after sitting empty for 108 years.

A parcel of land with historic connections to the early development of Queenstown’s Frankton Flats is up for sale after sitting empty for 108 years.

The 5,199sqm piece of land, spread over three titles, was bought in 1913 by Robert Grant as part of the Grant Family Farm and has never been on the market.

The land’s perched on the hillside above Queenstown’s Frankton Road with outstanding views towards The Remarkables mountain range, an easy two-minute walk to lakeside walking and biking tracks and the Frankton Marina.

Of the farmland originally bought by Robert Grant, 72 hectares was sold to the Queenstown Airport Corporation in December 1996, enabling the runway extension and development of playing fields alongside the Queenstown Events Centre.

A further 277 hectares on Queenstown Hill is still being farmed by Robert’s descendants operating in a family trust. It’s the trust that has decided to sell the Frankton Road parcel of land to help fund an innovative retail development project.

The Grant family will use proceeds of the sale to further develop their ‘Country Lane’ boutique and artisan style retail hub where old cabins salvaged from the former council-run Queenstown campground are being given a new lease of life.

Bruce Grant and his sister Tineke Enright, fourth generation guardians of Robert’s property, aren’t particularly interested in farming so when their parents Tilly and Bill Grant retired they began transforming some of the old farm buildings.

The first to get a makeover was the old barn built by their grandfather in the early 50’s which houses furniture, homewares and Tineke’s childrens’ clothing label Pretty Kiwi.  The centre’s now also home to the Buzzstop Honey Centre, Mount Michael Wines, Posh Paws, Ride To The Sky, Bright Ink and Wakatipu Therapeutic Massage.

Five former campground cabins are being established on the site which will house new businesses due to open in spring with everything from pottery to plants.

Bruce Grant says selling the Frankton Road property will hugely subsidise the new development.

“It’s a pretty cool spot, a stunning piece of land that’s already zoned differently to the rest of the property so it’s ripe for development,” he says. “The topography of the land lends itself to multiple units like the Mantra Marina apartments across the road and there’s plenty of good access.”

Marketed by David Poppleton and Peter Nelson of Harcourts Queenstown, the land will be sold by deadline sale on June 10 to give buyers the opportunity to make conditional offers while they seek independent advice on the use of the land.

David and Peter describe this as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to buy a large section, with plenty of potential, in an outstanding location.

They believe it will most likely appeal to a developer keen on building units, someone looking to subdivide into sections or to land-bank for the future.

Access to the site is from the first corner of Marina Drive and there are also two legal access points from the private road above it which also serves as an access road to the rest of the farm.

The Frankton Road street frontage is 110 metres along the south boundary and a small block of council-owned land with a tree-covered pathway leads from the land’s main access point on Marina Drive to the bus stop opposite the Marina entrance.


Read More