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Waitākere Resort and Spa for sale after 80-year family legacy

The freehold going concern of Auckland’s only rainforest hotel is for sale as its long-time owners look to pass the baton on.

The boutique independent Waitākere Resort and Spa at 573 Scenic Drive, Waiatarua, is nestled on 28ha held in two titles near the top of the forested Waitākere Ranges in West Auckland.

It offers 26 well-appointed guest suites, restaurant and bar, conference or wedding facilities including a chapel, swimming pool and sauna, gym, day spa, and helipad. There is also an owner or general manager's residence, and a raft of activities on offer including private bush walking tracks and team-building sports.

A new accommodation wing of eight suites was completed in January 2019, and there is an active Resource Consent in place to further develop the property, increasing the total offering to 38 guest suites. There is also potential to subdivide the existing titles for residential development, with no impact on the aesthetics or operation of the hotel amenity.

Wayne Keene, Bayleys’ national director hotels, tourism and leisure is marketing the freehold land and buildings of the Waitākere Resort and Spa by negotiation, and says the property will be sold with vacant possession.

“With the original family owners looking to retire after evolving the property to meet market demand and demonstrating admirable guardianship for more than 80 years, new blood and a fresh set of eyes could build on their legacy and take the facility to yet another level.

“Originally developed in the 1940s, and almost impossible to replicate affordably on this scale today, the property has ‘King of the castle’ vibes. There’s really nothing else like it in the Auckland market.

“While being just 26km or around 30 minutes’ drive from Auckland’s CBD and the closest lodge to the city, there’s a sense of really being away from it all and the panoramic views over the surrounding hinterland and distant views of the Auckland city skyscape and Waitematā Harbour are outstanding.”

The property offers a mix of 26 guest suites, including 12 deluxe rooms, eight premier rooms, two loft rooms, a garden apartment, two self-contained garden spa apartments, and a secluded 93sqm two-bedroom garden villa.

The refurbished 70-person fine dining restaurant is open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner for hotel guests and day visitors, and is complemented by the Kauri lounge and bar. Conference team-building and guest activities include laser sport shooting, abseiling, archery, petanque and croquet, and helicopter sightseeing along with walking tracks within the bush-clad grounds.

Keene says a new owner could carry on with an already-scoped and approved expansion programme.

“There’s a logical development plan in place to extend the existing accommodation and amenities including a new reception and lobby area, car parks and offices. However, as is, it is a viable and popular wedding and smaller-scale conference venue with a rightful place in the Auckland market.

“Some may see opportunity to broaden the accommodation options even further to include rainforest chalets or glamping pods, for example, to diversify the offering, broaden its appeal to a new audience, and increase revenue

“Additionally, there’s the option to subdivide some of the land for residential/lifestyle development as part of the property backs onto Opanuku Road in the Henderson Valley, which is a highly sought-after residential lifestyle area. This would not be seen from the hotel and would not impact its operation.”

Keene says there is a strong West Auckland residential catchment to draw on for staffing the hotel, with locals enjoying a quick commute to work and any changes to the existing operational model would have traction in both the employment market, and the visitor sector.

“The property has a proven record as a boutique hotel, however alternative uses could also be considered.

“On one hand, it could be transformed into a coveted private intergenerational family estate, but could also be taken in a different direction as an exclusive health and wellness retreat along the lines of Australia’s Gwinganna retreat on the Gold Coast.

“Wellness and eco-tourism are strong trends within the global travel arena and there’s inherent value in the Waitākere Resort and Spa to offer these experiences to discerning domestic and international guests.”

The estate was founded by retired airline pilot Captain J. Nevill-Jackson and his family. In the 1940s, Nevill-Jackson acquired 14ha of land and cut his way through from Opanuku Road, building a humble bachelor's pad out of aeroplane packing cases as materials were in short supply in war time New Zealand.

Marrying in the 1950s, Nevill-Jackson and his wife Monica went on to have three children and expanded the modest dwelling to create a family home, before acquiring more surrounding land to take it to the approximately 28ha it offers today.

During the 1960s, some guest accommodation and facilities were built with these expanded upon over subsequent years to create an impressive hotel amenity by the early-1980s.

Eighty years on from the initial purchase of the first parcel of land, the Nevill-Jackson family still owns and operates Waitākere Resort and Spa, with the Captain’s son Reg, at the helm.

Click here for more information on the listing.

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