Monday , July 23 2018

Mouldy bathrooms put hotel opening in doubt

It is alleged a series of building blunders could delay the opening of the new $80 million Novotel Christchurch Airport.

The 200-room hotel was originally scheduled to open in December 2017, but a mistake with steel last August pushed the deadline back to February.

Now mouldy bathroom pods and what one insider described to stuff.co.nz as a “series of design and construction cock-ups” could delay the opening until the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Christchurch Airport said the airport did not have a confirmation date for the opening of the $80m project, despite the hotel’s website advertising a September 2018 launch.

​The hotel will run under a franchise partnership agreement between Novotel owner AccorHotels and developer Christchurch Airport International Limited, which is 75 percent owned by Christchurch City Council and 25 percent owned by the Crown.

A Christchurch Airport spokesperson said the authority was still waiting for a confirmed construction completion date from contractor Fletcher Construction.

It is believed prefabricated bathrooms for the hotel were left in the rain by the builders and when later installed, were found to have developed extensive mould and needed to be replaced.

A Fletcher Construction spokesperson told stuff.co.nz: “Issues with bathroom pods were discovered as part of regular quality control measures at the site, and pods are being replaced to ensure a high-quality build.”

The delay has reportedly left hospitality staff hired for the hotel looking elsewhere for employment.

Many hospitality staff were hired almost a year ago, ahead of the hotel’s planned December 2017 opening date. Stuff.co.nz says some nicknamed it “Fawlty Towers” and have moved on to jobs outside Christchurch.

Construction problems with the hotel first emerged last August when some of the New Zealand-supplied steel did not meet requirements and re-supplying led to a delay.

Designers Warren & Mahoney are also alleged to have forgotten to include a boiler room in initial designs, leaving inadequate storage space and requiring a re-design.

AccorHotels New Zealand, Fiji & Polynesia senior vice president operations Gillian Millar said the hotel was still on track to open before the end of the year.

“New Zealand’s hotel industry is undergoing a period of record development and, with all new hotels, it’s not uncommon for construction timelines and opening projections to be challenged,” she said.

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