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Saturday , April 29 2017
Spacious deck Swiss belsuites Photo: Soren Liv
Spacious deck off the two bedroom apartment. Photo: Soren Liv

Swiss-belsuites: a beauty from the beast?

Swiss-Belsuites Victoria Park, Auckland offers sophisticated urban living directly opposite Victoria Park and next to Victoria Park Market in a 100-year-old heritage building with space for 85 shops, cafés and restaurants.

The hotel is located in the heart of vibrant Auckland city and only a five-minute walk from SkyCity Casino, the Auckland Convention Centre and the stunning Viaduct Harbour.

Swiss-Belsuites Victoria Park is the latest hotel to come under the management of family owned Swiss-Belhotel International. Gavin Faull, as chairman and president, works with his three executive director sons, providing quality accommodation for travellers and corporate guests alike. Oliver Faull said the project was quite a family affair. “We had three family businesses working together closely to achieve a fantastic result.”

“The developers and building owners are Mansons TCLM, the manager/operator is Swiss-Belhotel International and the furniture supplier is Soren Liv. Three long established, New Zealand owned family businesses,” Mr Faull told AMG.

Mac Manson of Mansons TCLM considers the resulting “fantastic looking block” quite a feat, considering it was “one of the ugliest buildings” they had ever worked with.

If it hadn’t been for the requirement to keep the carpark underneath, they would have opted to build a new structure. “Although we are extremely happy with the final product, refurbs are far more difficult”, Mr Manson explained.

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The master bedroom in the two bedroom apartment. Photo: Soren Liv

 

 

Swiss-Belsuites Victoria Park, Auckland offers 40 luxuriously appointed and spacious one, two and three-bedroom suites. Soren Liv fitted out the 40-suite building, and the Faulls were suitably impressed with the finish. “I love the quality of the finishes. As a hotelier, I can really tell that the developers have invested in this property and have not cut corners on quality,” Mr Faull enthused.

Carl Sorensen of Soren Liv said the building was a pleasure to fit out.  “With such beautiful, light-filled rooms and generous spaces, we were determined to keep the furniture stylish and in keeping with the overall design concept and architecture.”

Some rooms featured large cross beams, as part of the structural strengthening required to add the additional floors. “The Elle Pipe and Como coffee tables were chosen to mimic this look,” Mr Sorensen explained.

The designers worked from a neutral palette of colours for the wall and floor schemes, keeping the furniture neutral, providing a backdrop for splashes of colour in the accessories. “We worked with a contemporary look with some Scandinavian design elements, utilising American ash and American walnut.”

Working with the hotel’s setting, blues were employed to reflect the sea views and muted greens brought the outdoor feel of Victoria Park into the suites. Durable teak outdoor furniture was supplied for all deck spaces, creating an outdoor living experience to remember.

The Swiss-Belsuites opened on October 21, 2016, and having the fit-out complete on time was quite a production challenge for Soren Liv; with 8 weeks from sign off to opening night, it was all hands on deck.

Mac Manson praised Soren Liv’s approach and achievement at delivering everything on time “which was no easy feat, with time so short”. With a large percentage of made-to-measure and bespoke pieces required, “we may have struggled to have the soft fit out in place on time without their accommodating approach to the project,” he added.

For Soren Liv, sign-off dispensed a late confirmation that they would be working to hotel specifications, with all the associated requirements. “To deliver commercial grade fabrics on all soft furniture and no veneer on all hard furniture, we manufactured around 70 percent of both hard and soft furniture in New Zealand,” Mr Sorensen explained. Hard furnishings were Soren Liv designed and manufactured, using a mixture of metal bases and solid American ash timber tops.

Access to the suites created a further hurdle for Soren Liv. The apartments are located above a five-level carpark with a low 2.1 metre clearance. This meant that every item had to be transported in a small lift, from the ground floor; “about 200 loads,” Mr Sorensen recalled.

For one additional curveball; with two days till opening, and a reception area fit-out ready and delivered, a late-stage direction change in the design was required. While it could have ended in disaster it was swiftly returned, along with a new look for reception.

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Soren Liv chose Elle Pipe and Como coffee tables to mimic the structural cross beams. Photo: Soren Liv

 

“We whipped the pieces back to the factory and modified a buffet and high bar-table to fit this brief, and had it delivered in time for the opening,” Mr Sorensen told AMG. One of the keys to success was remaining flexible, he revealed. “We were able to pull the different elements together and respond quickly with a combination of our domestically produced products, and due to our good relationships with overseas suppliers.” This meant they were able to provide a bespoke solution that met all the design and functionality requirements, and on a tight time-line.

So, with all these fun and games in the set-up, was the client response worth it? Swiss-Belhotel’s Oliver Faull said: “I have attended quite a few hotel tours with travel agents and corporates and I don’t think I have ever heard so many positive comments. Our general manager, Nick Simmons, said that he would have loved to record the reactions when people first see the suites because quite often their reactions are very animated in a positive way,” the hotelier reported.

For the Faulls, there is a touch of homecoming about Swiss-Belhotel International’s second hotel in New Zealand, (the first being Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak Queenstown).  “It is a very personal property for us because although we manage 140 hotels and projects from Queenstown to Europe, this is the first one in our home city of Auckland.”

Oliver Faull concluded that “some of the key ‘wow’ factors are the size of the suites, the stunning views through the floor to ceiling windows, the huge balconies, the amazing kitchens and the beautiful furniture”. With reportedly “amazing comments” online, as well as 72.5 percent occupancy on opening night, and a full house on the second night – it appears guest really do love what they see.

 

About Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry
Suzy Barry is the editor of Accom Management Guide, New Zealand. She brings over a decade of editing and journalism to the title, and has experience in wellness tourism.

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