It has been a long haul but the renovation of Wellington’s prestigious InterContinental Hotel is nearly complete.
The capital’s only international five-star hotel, InterContinental Wellington, is putting the finishing touches on its multi-million dollar refresh with the third phase of The Lobby Lounge, Chameleon Restaurant and reception now open for guests.
Renovation of InterContinental Wellington began in early October 2013, starting with the accommodation rooms and Club InterContinental lounge.
Extensive upgrading was undertaken across all levels of the accommodation and Club Lounge with the luxurious result being opened to guests earlier this year. Completion of the latest phase means guests now enjoy a new sense of arrival within the redesigned reception.
The 232 guest-room InterContinental has long been the only internationally-branded 5-star hotel in the capital. Its central role in the city began 24 years ago when it opened. The first general manager was part of the initial tourism body which eventually became Positively Wellington Tourism.
Subsequently the hotel has partnered with the community on major city-wide events and been a great supporter of charity organisations. It also offers connection for New Zealand hospitality employees to the global IHG group of 4700 hotels.
The first stage of the multi-million dollar refurbishment opened just before Christmas with the completion of the first full floor of Deluxe Guestrooms.
A newly defined accommodation level for the hotel, Deluxe Guestrooms, features several enhancements which deliver additional guest comfort via tailoring to individual requirements: multi-device high-speed wireless internet connection, digital audio hub, 46 inch widescreen TV with multi-channel options, digital lighting controls, USB connectivity ports and fully customisable air-conditioning/heating options.
The completely new bathroom fit-outs include walk-in showers with both hand held and rain-shower heads, the addition of internal windows to allow more natural light, and Agraria bathroom amenities.
A total refurbishment of The Lobby Lounge, Chameleon Restaurant and meeting rooms followed, and finally a redesigned reception area.
Adjacent to reception, The Lobby Lounge is now a stylish and intimate space in which to enjoy a light meal or drink with friends and colleagues. The elegant cocktail lounge boasts a significant beverage list including some 144 different brands and types of spirits, served by passionate and knowledgeable mixologists.
Why the refurbishment?
The major refurbishment was designed to deliver even further on its promise of authentic luxury in the heart of New Zealand’s capital city.
A transformed Club InterContinental lounge with spectacular views of Wellington, a new deluxe category of accommodation, and state of the art electronic enhancements, all wrapped in sophisticated design were the intended result.
Bill Edwards, InterContinental Hotel Group’s Director of Operations for Australasia, said: “Wellington is a key city destination and an important part of our global network of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. The scale of this refurbishment is indicative of our commitment both to Wellington and the InterContinental brand values.
“We’re delighted our partner, Columna Capital Holdings, chose to refurbish as this will ensure InterContinental Wellington remains one of the top hotels in New Zealand.”
A design team from Chada, a world leading specialist in hospitality design with extensive international hotel project experience, was appointed to deliver a contemporary and sleek look with a warm yet sophisticated ambiance.
The fit-out was undertaken by Watts and Hughes Construction, a New Zealand business with extensive experience in both the construction and property development sectors, and known for its commitment to exceptional quality of design and construction.
InterContinental Wellington general manager Scott Hamilton says the layers of detail and design in the refurbishment are in response to catering for travellers with discerning taste.
“Our guests appreciate memorable experiences and a sense of occasion – it’s our job to continue to deliver excellence so both our business and leisure guests benefit from our global expertise.”
He said InterContinental Hotels & Resorts aims to connect guests with the local environment through enriching experiences.
“One of the special features of Wellington is the harbour and its interaction with the landscape and people.
“Our refurbished Club InterContinental Lounge, offering personalised service to guests staying in our exclusive Club InterContinental Guestrooms, now spans the total width of the hotel, overlooking the whole harbour, and provides truly stunning views, day and night,” said Mr Hamilton.
“The 64 Club InterContinental Guestrooms and Suites has been totally recreated, featuring state of the art electronic room controls which include the curtains (operated by the touch of a button while still in bed), digital lighting, air conditioning/heating and frosting of the glass in the shower windows.
The newly defined 84 Deluxe Guestrooms again involve a total conversion of three levels of the hotel. Deluxe Guestroom enhancements include new king-sized beds, digital audio units and reconfigured bathrooms.
Mr Hamilton said a new sense of arrival has been created within a redesigned reception supported by the Concierge team’s wealth of local insights.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, the five-star service Chameleon, has long been a fine-dining drawcard in the capital. The restaurant’s fresh decor provides an attractive backdrop for the chef’s new style of menu which encourages diners to indulge in the many superb choices offered.
The hotel’s sales and marketing manager, Geoff Naumann says the refurbishment team has been “very pleased with guest reactions” since the work was completed, with social media and guest feedback using words such as “awesome, wonderful, most comfortable bed ever slept in, the rooms have been renovated to an excellent standard, the new layout in the entrance foyer with the fireplace looks fantastic, new rooms are great and the refurbished lobby is a vast improvement”……and more, he said.
The final phase – refurbishing the meeting rooms – will be completed January 2015.
Laying new carpet brings a challenge
New carpet at the InterContinental was laid by Master Kelwin Floors, the largest commercial flooring business in Australasia.
Specialising in all types of flooring for the commercial sector, Master Kelwin has been in business for more than 40 years and is part of the Auckland-based, Flooring Brands Group.
“We provide a ‘one stop shop’ for all commercial floor coverings and deliver added value to our clients from our capability in end-to-end commercial project solutions – from design consultancy to installation, after sales service and maintenance,” said the head of Master Kelwin Floors in New Zealand, Drew Nimmo.
“The hospitality sector is one in which we’ve developed particular expertise and understanding of the hotel operational environment. We’ve delivered major projects in a number of iconic properties including Crowne Plaza Auckland and Novotel Rotorua (part of the same group as InterContinental Wellington.
“The project we delivered for the InterContinental Wellington required a patterned Axminster carpet throughout the rooms and corridors on a staged programme that allowed the hotel to remain open,” said Mr Nimmo.
“Consequently, there was a significant challenge in working to a shift pattern (during normal hours and overnight) over an eight month period which saw us prepare and lay over 2,000 lineal metres of carpet (about 5,300 square metres).
“We are delighted to have participated in this important project for the InterContinental and to support a valued customer organization.
Ensuring that guests have a good night’s sleep
Sleepyhead Manufacturing won the contract to provide new beds at the InterContinental and the company’s commercial division manager, Damien Hegarty, says “Sleepyhead has been very pleased to work with the hotel to ensure their guests enjoy a great night’s sleep.
“Today the hotel industry recognises that the bed is the most important part of the room. Most international chains are investing in the latest bed technology to ensure their guests return because they enjoyed their sleep experience.
“Intercontinental chose beds from our top line Elegance range and also ensured it gave guests plenty of sleep space. Superking size is the standard and this ties in with an industry-wide move to larger beds,” Mr Hegarty said.
“Superking and California King are replacing Queens as the standard size in most middle and top end properties. The Elegance range offers guests deep, luxurious comfort layers and no partner disturbance. It features Dream Foam, which is the first completely environmentally friendly foam, manufactured in New Zealand or Australia.
“The range is 100% New Zealand made. Sleepyhead is able to offer its products nationally from its modern state-of- the-art bed manufacturing plants in Auckland and Christchurch,” he said.
“Sleepyhead welcomes the opportunity to work with individual hotels to ensure the best outcomes for their guests. The company has been manufacturing beds in New Zealand since 1935 and has unrivalled expertise in providing top quality products, incorporating the latest available bed technology available worldwide. It has expanded its operations into Australia and is the largest bed manufacturer across both countries.”
Sophisticated lounge lighting
ECC provided the lighting design for the Intercontinental Club Lounge, responding to the owner’s brief, which was to create a sophisticated, light and airy, welcoming space with a ‘wow factor’ said Debbie Quy, client manager for the lighting company.
“The owner wanted to make the most of the incredible views from the lounge and be able to change the mood of the space from daytime to night. LED was a prerequisite for energy efficiency.”
Mrs Quy said the project had a number of limitations that needed to be taken into consideration within the design:
• A low ceiling, so pendants were not suitable
• Panoramic views of Wellington City and Harbour, so lighting was not to distract from these.
• Bulkheads with service units running across inside of ceiling
“ECC came up with a lighting concept based on fully integrating the lighting into the architectural space, primarily using Flos Soft Architecture. These shapes and cove lighting moulds are plastered into ceilings and walls so that they become a seamless part of the space.
“In the original design we specified Soft Architecture Circles in three sizes for the ceilings and Soft Architecture Spun Lamps as featured wall lights to add ambience and softness to the space.
“Because of the restrictions we had with service ducting in the ceiling in particular over the serving and dining areas of the room, we added Flos recessed Easy Kap downlights because they mimicked the shape of the large Soft Architecture circles, but because of their size could be easily configured in groups of three or in linear lines. The linear configuration was used to define servery area and tripod configuration placed over the dining tables.
“To create the ‘wow’ factor for client we suggested placing one of the largest Soft Architecture circles above the fire flue. The result was a truly spectacular centrepiece in the room that looked like the light fitting and the flue were made for each other.
“A visually attractive, energy efficient space was achieved on budget, which exceeded our client’s expectations,” she said.
INCOMM system plays a key role
A key component of the sophisticated new technology at the InterContinental Hotel installed as part of the recently completed refurbishment is the guestroom energy management solution, INNCOM by Honeywell, installed by Brantas International Technology.
Brantas director Jan Strijker says INNCOM systems are installed in more than 600,000 guest rooms worldwide and clients range from the most prestigious 5-star hotels to specialty limited-service properties.
“INNCOM technology can be directly applied in several related markets including universities and health care facilities.”
In a hotel setting, INNCOM fulfils the core purposes of upgrading the thermostat to a fully automated guestroom energy management system with a strong ROI.
However, it can be extended to be more than that. INNCOM INNtouch™ is a convenient, easy way for guests to display their privacy and service needs.
INNtouch™ eliminates unsightly, awkward doorknob tags and provides a pleasing doorbell chime to announce staff and other guests. At the touch of a button, Do-Not-Disturb or Make-Up-Room can be displayed immediately on the corridor wallplate,” Mr Strijker said.
“With the addition of a small motion sensor inside the guestroom, INNtouch™ allows staff to determine the occupancy of a room without knocking or yelling through the door. This reduces embarrassing intrusions on guest privacy.
“INNtouch™ operates on a standalone basis or seamlessly integrates with the INNcontrol™ centrally controlled guestroom energy management system to remotely display guestroom status to housekeeping and other hotel departments.
The INNCOM guest interface can run on tablets installed in the guest room, allowing guests to manage the room HVAC System, drape controls, DND and make up room requests, Room Service ordering, Housekeeping and other department’s service requests from the comfort of their beds.
“The INNCOM range of thermostats can replace virtually any existing thermostat currently in use. They have the unique ability to directly control almost any HVAC fan coil unit, packaged terminal air conditioner, or other unit types ranging from 24V to 277V, without additional relays or transformers,” Mr Strijker said.
“With the addition of a passive infrared motion sensor and door switch, the INNCOM thermostat becomes the brain of a highly efficient standalone energy management system. Without compromising guest comfort, guestroom energy costs can typically be reduced by 30 per cent or more. And, when integrated guest status controls are added to the system even greater guest convenience and staff efficiencies are achieved.
“By connecting to INNCOM’s INNcontrol network, the true energy and cost-effectiveness of the INNCOM solution is realised. With an INNCOM thermostat networked to a centrally controlled system, the hotel gains the highest level of energy savings with a feature-rich energy management system for both local and remote control of guestroom HVAC equipment and devices.”
The INNCOM devices come in various finishes including glass touch screen and can be fully customised to match the room design.