Rock star turned Akaroa restaurateur Ben Campbell is planning to breathe new life into one of the best-known historic landmarks in the small Banks Peninsula town, southeast of Christchurch.
Campbell is the bass guitarist for Zed, who topped the charts in 2000 with Renegade Fighter and later Glorafilia.
A dual resident of Akaroa and Christchurch for the past six years, he has bought the Grand Hotel, adjacent Waeckerle’s Cottage and 1909sq m of surrounding land, for an undisclosed sum ahead of auction. He already owns Ma Maison restaurant in the township together with co-owning Mandala restaurant.
“We are ecstatic the property holdings are in Ben’s hands. It’s great he’s an Akaroa local, and he’ll be a long term custodian of the property – that was very important to our client who’d owned the holdings since 1989. Ben is an experienced operator with a great vision to see the buildings through another chapter in their history,” Doig says.
“We’re really excited to watch his plans come to fruition.”
Doig says the move to split the offering into three separate opportunities – the hotel, the cottage and the land – helped fuel interest from a broad range of potential buyers.
Located at 4-16 Rue Lavaud, the hotel and cottage occupy a prime position at the gateway to the Akaroa township. The hotel dates back to 1883, and has seen many changes over the years.
“I’ve always thought how important the Grand Hotel is to Akaroa... it’s such a landmark and it sets the tone for what to expect. I love that it’s pretty much the first thing you see, apart from the view, as you drive into Akaroa. Both The Grand and Waeckerle’s
Cottage are so drenched in history and I’ve always thought they would be great buildings to sympathetically restore,” Campbell says.
“My plan for The Grand is the same as my plan for Akaroa – for it to be a place of recharging and rebalancing, a space to enjoy friendship and community in this beautiful secluded bay. My passion is creating inspirational spaces where people feel like working, living and having fun.
“Music is fundamental to my life and work; The Grand is a perfect place to showcase New Zealand and international talent.”
His plan for Waeckerle’s cottage is to sympathetically restore it as a living museum and make it available for short term rental.
“There’s also the potential to offer it to up-and-coming Kiwi writers and artists as a month long residency through the offseason. We’d work with Creative NZ and the Arts Council and our local trust to select the participants, then hold exhibitions in The Grand.
“I want to live a good life here. I want to build an historic future where we appreciate all that has been given to us by those who have gone before.”