Commodore Hotel starts $10m upgrade to match growing Christchurch competition

17 May 2016

The family-owned Commodore Hotel near Christchurch airport has started a $10 million upgrade.

Owner Michael Patterson said there would be a $5.5m re-fit of rooms over the next two winters, to be followed by a further $5m spend on front-of-house and restaurant renovation.

The 48-room re-fit was a regular, scheduled upgrade but the hotel also needed to keep up with competition, Patterson said.

The Commodore, owned and operated by the Patterson family since the early 1970s, is barely a runway-length from Christchurch International Airport, which has announced plans for a short-stay hotel next to its terminal. Other hotels are sprouting again in the central city.

Patterson and his brothers, Ken and Thomas, recently bought the 19-room Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel for an undisclosed sum.

Michael Patterson said the family had aspired to own a second hotel and they chose the Queenstown property because it attracted a similar clientele to the Commodore's business-level rooms.

He hoped the Commodore upgrade would send a signal to the hotel market that they were still committed to Christchurch.

It was better to spend $10m on improvements there now rather than let facilities slide to an "alarming ebb", he said. 

In 2013, the family added 20 rooms in the city's first 'new' development after the earthquakes. The hotel site had room for expansion, although nothing immediate was planned.

The family's immediate interest was city planning rules for semi-rural space around the hotel. Patterson said the rebuilt Memorial Ave/Russley Rd intersection would give the city a true gateway but he was worried that surrounding green-space would be filled by ugly commercial blocks.

No-one wanted to see the area filled with trade-related businesses that "detracted" from the area, he said.

"We've worked together as a family for 45 years to establish a business and we want to ensure the very best outcome for our business and our community."

Ideally, rural zones around the airport could stay that way for 10 years or more, he said. If developed, land opposite the new airport and State Highway One interchange could be turned into an agriculture or viticulture visitor centre.

The nearby International Antarctic Centre showed what was possible, Patterson said.