The landmark County Hotel in New Zealand’s Art Deco capital of Napier is seeking a new owner.
The three-level boutique hotel at 12 Browning Street is the only remaining example of Victorian-Edwardian classical style architecture in the region, surviving the 1931 earthquake that impacted most of the area’s buildings.
National Director of Hotels at Colliers International, Dean Humphries, is part of a team selling the property by way of private treaty in collaboration with Colliers Hawke’s Bay Director Danny Blair and Wayne Keene of Resort Brokers New Zealand.
Danny Blair says that the County Hotel is arguably Napier’s most iconic and well-known upscale boutique accommodation and culinary/restaurant provider.
“Comprising 18 beautifully appointed and spacious guest rooms, the County Hotel is one of the most sought-after places to stay in the Hawke’s Bay region.
“The hotel’s restaurant, Wine Street, and the quaint Churchill bar are also highly popular with inhouse guests, visitors and locals alike. The north-westerly aspect provides some of the best alfresco dining in the city.
“Together with the Churchill private dining room and boardroom, the charming basement cellar offers a wonderful space for events and conferences with capacity for up to 50 people.”
Originally constructed in 1909 as the Hawke’s Bay Municipal Offices, the County Hotel has been trading on the site since 1993.
Located in the heart of Napier’s Art Deco neighbourhood at the northern end of the CBD, the property is zoned ‘Art Deco Quarter’ and is a protected heritage building.
The hotel occupies a 574sq m freehold site that benefits from high-profile street frontage on the intersection of Browning and Herschell Streets.
The current owners purchased the property in 2002 and undertook significant refurbishment and expansion of the hotel, turning it into one of the first Qualmark rated 5-star boutique lodging facilities in New Zealand.
With 1,480sq m gross of internal space, the building features original Edwardian gothic features and well-preserved Art Deco influences including high ceilings, wood panelling, and intricate detailing throughout.
Keene says the established nature of the business is a key feature of the asset.
“The hotel has a loyal customer base which is underpinned by the domestic and corporate market, with higher-yielding international business over the peak summer period. This produces a robust and profitable revenue stream via its accommodation, restaurant and event facilities.
“The food and beverage offerings have also contributed to some 40 per cent of the total revenue in the recent past based on their strategic location and popularity with the local market.
“Positioned just 100m from the waterfront and 300m from the town centre, it has secured its popularity as a dining and event destination with the local community and visitors.
“It is ideally suited to continue trading as an independently owned and operated hotel and hospitality business. Or, alternatively, investors could consider unlocking additional value by leasing the hotel or hospitality businesses and holding the property as a passive investment.
“As the Hawke’s Bay continues to grow, we are expecting robust trading conditions to continue into the foreseeable future.”
Humphries says Napier is fast becoming one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations, offering a significant opportunity for hotel operators and property investors.
“New Zealand tourism has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years and despite current global events will continue to be a key foundation of the New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay economy over the long term.
“Napier is currently underpinned by one of the country’s strongest domestic markets and is becoming increasingly popular with a growing number of international visitors who are drawn to the city’s unique 1930s Art Deco architecture, as well as the world-renowned wineries and beautiful coastline of the surrounding region.
“The region is also very popular as a key regional event destination with a full concert schedule over the summer season including annual events such as Mission Estate which saw Elton John play two concerts this summer season and the Art Deco Festival, which brings around 40,000 people to the area each year.”
Commercial accommodation guest nights in Napier and Hawke’s Bay have increased by 26 per cent over the last five years.
Tourism expenditure in the wider region has increased from approximately $503 million to $660m between 2014 to 2019.
Napier accounts for approximately 53 per cent of this total expenditure, growing by approximately 6 per cent per annum since 2014.
Blair says that a strong local economy provides robust investment fundamentals.
With a population of 62,800 in Napier and 165,900 in the wider region, the Hawke’s Bay is now the sixth largest urban area in New Zealand.
The city is the central hub for the region, underpinned by Hawke’s Bay Airport and Napier Port.
The Hawke’s Bay is an $8.1 billion economy that has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 4.4 per cent over the last decade.
There’s also solid local industry ranging from agriculture and forestry through to manufacturing.
The County Hotel building has a Grade B seismic rating based on an Initial Evaluation Procedure, which established the property as having at least 75 per cent of the New Building Standard.
Facilities include a commercial kitchen, manager’s accommodation and back of house services. There is ample street parking and a range of other third-party parking options.
Interested purchasers are encouraged to note that the vendor owns a vacant parcel of land opposite the site, which is available to purchase on a separate transaction.
The land is currently utilised as car parking and provides an additional income stream through car park rental but can be developed up to five storeys pending council clarification.