Located just a two minute walk from a recently expanded Christchurch International Airport and now right next door to the new Spitfire Square shopping plaza of retail and food and beverage outlets, including a supermarket, Sudima Christchurch Airport has long been the ideal place to stay when visiting the Garden City, or to rest and rejuvenate before travelling further afield.
But the hotel has just undergone a major redevelopment and those familiar with it in earlier times will find it significantly changed when they visit again now.
It has a long and notable history in the Christchurch accommodation sector. Originally built by Fletcher Construction in 1968, it first opened as the White Heron Christchurch and later White Heron Travel Lodge. One of very few three hotels in the city in those days, it was popular for special occasions such as weddings, and very well-known as a place to gather for a few drinks.
It became the Airport Plaza in the 1970s, before Sudima purchased it in December 2000 and went into a management contract with Grand Chancellor Hotels to create the Sudima Grand Chancellor Christchurch Airport. The hotel became Sudima Christchurch Airport in 2006.
Sudima Christchurch airport’s continued commitment to the garden city has resulted in its owner, Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala, to invest 25 million dollars in the re-development of the hotel and conference facilities. The project now complete, not only highlights major progress now taking place in this city, also known as the gateway to the South island, but more importantly, the re-birth of a local icon that the Cantabrians and the wider New Zealand community can continue to be extremely proud of.
Auckland company Catalyst Consulting was chosen to do the architectural design work. Its brief was to restore the Sudima Christchurch Airport back to its former glory, but in modern, contemporary style – able to cater for the leisure, corporate and conferencing market, providing all the facilities expected of a 4.5-star hotel in 2015.
Construction work began in 2013, led by Arrow constriction, which first involved demolition of an original accommodation wing, with a considerably larger accommodation tower in its place. In essence it is a brand new building, attached to the original hotel, which remained operational throughout the 14 months of construction and refurbishment.
“We operated on a reduced inventory of 158 rooms, which wasn’t really that difficult because the construction was a brand new building which we cordoned off,” Mr Adolphe said.
The major part of construction and first to be finished were 68 brand new executive rooms and 20 suites, which were available for guests from August 1. Sudima Christchurch now has a total inventory of 241 guest rooms and suites.
The second stage was the opening on September 1 of a brand new lobby and façade, which gave the Sudima a very different appearance to those familiar with it.
Last to be completed, in October, was the upgraded conference facilities and refurbished lobby bar and restaurant. Guests were now staying in a largely new hotel.
“We’ve had lots of feedback, the guests absolutely love it,” said Mr Adolphe.
“It’s hugely important for the city. It’s giving hope to people here that Christchurch is rebuilding. For our owners to invest $25 million in an earthquake ravaged city certainly shows that the situation is moving forward again and we are serious about wanting tourism to come back.
“The corporate conferencing market shied away from the city for a few years, mainly due to lack of availability of large conference hotel venues. Now that market has Sudima Christchurch, one of the largest hotels in the city and able to cater for large conferences.
“We now have two additional conferencing venues, able to host a further 120 guests theatre style, as well as two new board rooms, all with natural light and backed by the latest in AV technology. The hotel now has a total of nine flexible conference venues, meaning we can cater for up to 300 guests in theatre style.”
Sudima Hotels and Resorts director of operations Les Morgan says it is thrilling to see the renewed Christchurch city starting to take shape.
“The new Sudima Christchurch Airport will present quite a dramatic image. The new façade will be visually striking and set the tone for travellers coming through the city.”
He said recent developments at Christchurch Airport have vastly improved the major gateway to the South Island.
“The travel and tourism market is vibrant and has really opened up, which is encouraging for our industry. The developments at Sudima Christchurch Airport are among many within the airport precinct, and coincide with the recent opening of Spitfire Square, which was highly anticipated. We are working collaboratively with the airport to ensure our accommodation and conference offerings really hit the mark and are supremely attractive to guests.”
Sudima Hotels and Resorts chief executive Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala says, “Sudima Christchurch Airport is a special place that holds many memories for people who have stayed with us over the years. The developments and investment in the hotel are key to our commitment to, not only the local region, but the tourism industry in New Zealand.”
Practical linen with a luxury touch
When it came to bedding and linen for its new-look hotel, Sudima Christchurch Airport turned to New Zealand owned and operated specialist supplier, Vendella International, which has a close relationship with the Sudima hotel chain.
Vendella’s contract included:
• Luxury bed toppers
• Mattress protection
• Pillow protection
• Runners and cushions
“Their request to us was to provide the Sudima Christchurch Airport with a modern but functional room package, viable to be used across all their New Zealand hotels when required.” said Vendella’s general manager Luke Brodie.
“Incorporated in the solution were time saving features that assist the staff in turning the rooms around faster, while also reducing the energy and costs required to wash and dry the bedding. Of course, a display of luxury is required to exceed the high standards of their discerning client base. The build is completed, the product was delivered on schedule and the results speak for themselves.” he said.
“Because of our substantial stock holdings, Sudima staff are able to regularly order further shipments of the same items to bring other rooms up to speed. This provides a stress-free, straightforward and ongoing solution to the common issue with many refurbishments; replacement stock.”
“The time we spent listening to the unique desires of the Sudima group was rewarded with the contract and on-going support of Sudima hotels across all their properties.”
Mr Brodie quoted comments by Les Morgan, Sudima’s director of operations throughout New Zealand and Australia in relation to the contract with Sudima Christchurch Airport: ‘It’s vital to be able to work with a supplier who understands how a client needs to balance style while working to a budget. The Vendella team get it, and as a result, we will continue to work alongside them to deliver value to our fit-outs.”
Luke Brodie expressed Vendella’s respect for the Sudima staff saying; “They are a great team of passionate people who have an eye for detail which keeps them up with the latest movements in the hospitality industry. They are a privilege to work with and we are delighted to be associated with Sudima Hotels.”
Successful software solutions from CMS Hospitality
Sudima Hotels in New Zealand have been using software solutions supplied by CMS Hospitality for nearly two decades.
CMS sales manager, Craig Dennington, says the original install was completed at Rotorua and Christchurch Airport hotels, using the Inngenius property management system, then migrated to the HotelXL solution. “Both of these were DOS based products and were locally installed at each hotel.”
“In the early 2000s both of these hotels shifted to the Windows-based GuestCentrix PMS and since then have progressed from our versions three and four, up to version five, with more and more features added,” he said.
“When Sudima Hotel Auckland Airport was opened, we again were very lucky to have been selected as the PMS provider for the expansion of the Sudima brand. Over time the properties have added further optional modules from CMS Hospitality including GuestCentrix POS, Conference and Banqueting and other systems to their business,” Mr Dennington said.
“We have worked very closely with their IT providers who have facilitated the move to a cloud deployment of their software systems, meaning less costly IT infrastructure on-site at each property. This cloud system may also pave the way for a more centralised solution for Sudima into the future, which will allow them to more centrally manage all of their properties, with the option of a CRS solution.
“Most recently we have been developing a connection to the Air New Zealand Airpoints system to automate guest points earned for Air New Zealand passengers who choose to stay with Sudima. Once this interface has been delivered, it should make the process of awarding frequent flyer points a seamless one,” said Mr Dennington.
“We look forward to a continued relationship with Sudima as their operation grows.”
Excellent coffee – great relationship
Good coffee lies behind the relationship between the Sudima hotel group and international coffee company, Coffex.
Coffex has been roasting coffee since its inception in Melbourne in 1959, and now has one of the largest roasting facilities in the Southern Hemisphere. It has been supplying Sudima Rotorua since 2007, Sudima Auckland since 2011 and Sudima Christchurch since 2014.
“Coffex has developed a great working relationship with the staff and management of each hotel, as well as the owners and senior management over the years,” said the New Zealand manager of Coffex Coffee, Shamsi Röck. “We have found Sudima to be a fantastic company to work with.”
“The Coffex team works very hard to be responsive as the requirements of the hotel group evolve and change. We, like the Sudima Hotels, pride ourselves on our people, our ability to listen, and to act promptly. We also have great coffee.”
“Sudima holds an inter-hotel barista competition every year as part of their annual prize-giving. Coffex is honoured to be part of it, and judge the competition, as well as being part of the prize-giving evening itself,” said Ms Röck.
“Coffex supplies Sudima with an organic and Fairtrade certified coffee, served via espresso, filter and in-room plunger sachets. This choice of coffee reflects the values of the Sudima hotel group.”
“We also have state of the art Curtis bulk filter equipment, as well as a La Cimbali M39 espresso machine adorning the refurbished bar in Christchurch.”
Coffex has offices in New Zealand, throughout Australia, China, and another state of the art roasting and training facility in Malaysia.