TRAVEL GAZETTE – Work has begun on a hotel project billed as China’s biggest-ever investment in New Zealand’s tourism infrastructure after Prime Minister John Key ceremonially broke the ground Wednesday.
The event marked the start of construction of a five-star Park Hyatt Auckland hotel at a landmark site in downtown Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city and home to a third of the population.
Key was joined onsite by executives of Beijing-based property developer Fu Wah International Group, which is investing 200 million NZ dollars (134.74 million U.S. dollars) in the project, representing one of the largest foreign investments in New Zealand tourism infrastructure.
Fu Wah won development rights for the 195-room hotel after a global investor search process in 2013 led by the land owner, Auckland City Council organization Panuku Development Auckland.
Panuku chief executive officer John Dalzell said Fu Wah stood out as a development partner with its commitment to a long term sustainable investment proposal, respect for the history of the site and its significance to Aucklanders.
“We’re delighted with the standard of building Fu Wah and its design team have come up with, and the respect shown to the retention of public waterfront access as part of the project,” Dalzell said in a statement.
The ceremony was attended by Chinese Ambassador Wang Lutong and Consul General Xu Erwen and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.
Fu Wah director Lim Wong said the company would spend a further 2.5 million NZ dollars (1.68 million U.S. dollars) on a public promenade, walkway and art display in the area surrounding the hotel.
“It is important that the building is able to be enjoyed by the public as well as creating a public space for everyone to enjoy,” she said in the statement.
It will be the first Park Hyatt hotel in New Zealand, and one of only 37 worldwide.
The construction will be a joint venture between Chinese and New Zealand-based companies, with details of the partnership to be announced in April.