The Press Online
November 19, 1999

Early Bookings Boost Spirits in Resort Hotel
Rosemarie North

Some Queenstown hotel managers have predicted bumper bookings from December through to March next year. Top hotels are expecting occupancy rates as high as 90 percent after filling between 20 and 40 percent more rooms than usual this year.

Four hundred of the 2000 hotel rooms available each night in Queenstown have been booked for a month from November 18 for cast and crew of the $360 million Lord of the Rings movie project.

General manager for the St Moritz Novotel Suites and Novotel Queenstown Carl Braddock said Queenstown`s top range hotels had sold 54 percent more rooms last month than they had in October, 1998. By the end of last month, the majority of Queenstown hotels had sold 40,000 more rooms than for the 10 months until October 31 last year, he said.

Mr Braddock attributed the growth to the weakness of the New Zealand dollar against foreign currencies, a resurgence in the Asian market and effective promotion. "The Korean market is definitely coming back with a hiss and a roar. Japan is still a bit flat, but it`s certainly very, very positive," he said. A 90 percent occupancy this summer was quite possible, he said. Novotel Queenstown was projecting a 92 percent occupancy for February next year, compared to 77 percent in February this year.

Occupancies at Rydges Queenstown were up 68 percent last month compared with the same month last year, general manager Nick Lambert said. "For summer we`re holding 85 percent," he said. Most hotels are almost booked out for the New Year period.

Millbrook Resort director of sales and marketing Sue Askham said it would be full for four days from December 30 until January 2. The last rooms had been snapped up six months ago. Millbrook was expecting its highest summer occupancies since opening in 1992, she said.