Christchurch's new Crowne Plaza hotel to open this weekend after 'long haul'

Christchurch's tourism scene is about to get a major boost with the opening of the new 204-room Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday.

In a two-year, multi-million-dollar project, the 17-storey building's local owners have converted it from the earthquake-damaged Forsyth Barr office tower into city's biggest executive-style hotel.

The hotel, opposite Victoria Square, began taking bookings in April and has sold 11,000 room nights for its first eight months.

Another 500 rooms will be ready by next winter in other new hotels under way, including Distinction Christchurch in Cathedral Square and the Airport Novotel.

Shane Le Compte, director of local company MC Holdings which owns the land, building, and business, said the conversion had been "a long haul". They were very excited to be almost ready to open their doors, he said.

"It's been a huge mission. We'd love to see Cantabrians come and have a look and support us."

Shane Le Compte, director, MC Holdings

Bruce Garrett, chairman of the Tourism Industry Association's hotel section, said the opening would help put back some of the nearly 3000 hotel rooms lost in the Canterbury earthquakes.

"Hopefully it will help attract back some businesses that have been avoiding the city," he said, "It will certainly give some of the tour operators that have been holding back from coming to Christchurch more options."

As well as boosting the city's bed supply, the Crowne Plaza opening will return the site to its original colonial use.

From 1851, the corner housed the two-storey timber Golden Fleece Hotel. Sitting initially among flax and toi toi bushes, the hotel burned down in 1866 and was rebuilt on the same site. It reportedly became known locally as the Cold 'n Fleas hotel.

The existing building on the site was built as the Robert Jones House office building for property magnate Bob Jones in the late 1980s, and is the only office tower surviving from that era.

On the ground floor, it has a cafe called Cafe 1851, a bar called Social Winebar, and a hotel lobby. Upstairs will be first-floor restaurant, The Market Place, and function rooms and a gym. Rooms include suites and accessible rooms and are priced from $180 to $300 a night.