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Hanmer Springs unveils plans for European-style luxury day spa
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools is seeking partners to back a bold $15 million premium spa investment to boost the alpine village's ability to draw in visitors from far and wide.
The Hurunui District Council, which owns the thermal attraction - the Hanmer Springs - is supporting the plan to turn part of the former Queen Mary Hospital's heritage Chisholm Ward building into a luxury day spa.
The heritage building has been sitting empty and unused since the hospital closed in 2003 and need earthquake strengthening.
A detailed plan for the Chisholm Spa is yet to be finalised but the proposal is for a luxurious retreat involving indoor and outdoor thermal pools, a hammam (steam room) and an ice cave.
It will also have treatment rooms and an eaterie.
The Council would likely back half of the cost through a loan, with investors contributing about $7.5 million to get the spa completed.
Once developed, the Council would then lease the facility to the investor/spa operator.
Introducing the plan, Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley stated "the pools have to find a joint venture investor, finalise the concept and then it has to go through an approval process that will involve public consultation and liaison over the heritage elements."
Hanmer Springs General Manager Graeme Abbot added that once complete "there is a significant amount of high quality accommodation in Hanmer to help draw in visitors from Auckland and further afield."
He added that the luxury spa, to complement the existing pools and spa facility and a planned town centre boutique spa, could open within two years.
There have been a number of attempts to turn the historic Queen Mary Hospital site into a commercial entity. The Chisholm Ward had originally been built as a 'women's pavilion' hospital in 1926 to cater for those that had returned from the First World War. Later it and surrounding facilities turned into a rehabilitation base for those with drug and alcohol problems.
Hurunui District Council has owned the Queen Mary site since 2010 but attempts, since then, to occupy the buildings had failed.
Duncan Mackenzie, General Manager of Hanmer's biggest hotel, Heritage Hanmer Springs said the hotel would welcome the development of a spa to give extra traction to village offerings, stating "if it's going to turn into a luxury spa then that's fine, fantastic, go for it."
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools recently announced that it had enjoyed record attendance in the 2015 financial year.
The Thermal Pools' existing 12 treatment room spa (run within the main pools complex) drew in $1.5 million of annual revenues from an 18,000 mix of domestic and international visitors with satisfaction surveys showing strong results.
The wider pools and cafe complex saw revenues of $10.5 million and a profit of $2.5 million for the year to 30th June 2015.
The facility has also won the New Zealand Recreation Association's 2015 Aquatic Innovation Award for its efforts conserving thermal water.
Commenting on the achievement, Graeme Abbot stated "we've been working hard over the past year to save our thermal water and have so far saved 100,000,000 litres of it.
"(We achieve this through) a technical process but we've changed the way we use the thermal water and also used it to heat our new changing rooms by developing a system that uses the same water to heat the floor, then the shower water, then the air.
"That's resulted in savings of $77,744 and 431,914 kilowatts of energy."
The resort complex has re-engineered heating processes for its pools and changing rooms, while using bubble wrap-type covers for unconventionally shaped pools, like those with boulders, also significantly reduced the amount of water needed to reheat them for use the following day.
Abbot added "we cut them individually and put them on by hand each night.
"Guys would get in the pools and made sure they were pushed up against the corners."
Re-engineering and the pool cover initiative meant the complex saved the equivalent of 22 Olympic-size swimming pools worth of water in a year.
New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) spokeswoman Tracey Prince said the sustainability of the pool's innovations set it apart in a competitive awards field, stating "it saves Hanmer Springs quite a lot of money and energy costs, there was that efficiency about it.
"Unlike Hanmer, some of the other innovations were semi-reliant on ongoing funding."
The Award was presented at the NZRA's recent JAWS event in Dunedin.
Top image shows an artists impression of the planned day spa.
24th August 2015 - NEW ZEALAND’S AQUATIC INDUSTRY CHAMPIONS NAMED
6th March 2013 - HANMER SPRINGS RESORT BENEFITS FROM UPGRADE
11th October 2011 - KEY FACTORS FOR SUCCESSFUL AND SUSTAINABLE SMALL TOURISM DESTINATIONS
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