Auckland's Voco hotel welcomed its first paying guests into the new high-rise, Albert Street hotel on Thursday morning, marking the entry of the fast-expanding brand into New Zealand.

Its first room booking went to a family of three who booked in a few hours after flying into the city from Los Angeles. 

They will have their pick of Voco’s newly furnished 201 rooms and enjoy the city during their four-day stay.

The upscale Voco brand, founded in June 2018, is now one of IHG Hotel and Resort group’s fastest expanding hotel groups, with more than 70 open or pipeline hotels across 20 countries. 

IHG says it plans to open more than 200 Voco branded hotels over the next 10 years. Locally, it has also committed to a new 139-room Intercontinental hotel across six floors at the waterfront's One Queen St redevelopment. It's due to be finished at the end of 2023.

Voco Auckland City Centre takes up levels 21 to 37 on the new 38-storey development. The $200 million dual tower will also be home to a 294-room Holiday Inn Express on the bottom levels, scheduled to open in about two weeks.

A venture between the international Pro-Invest group and IHG, the tower was built over the past three years on the site of what was the NZ Herald newspaper building.

Pro-Invest is an Australian based investment group with about A$2 billion (NZ$2.2b) in assets under management, including 23 hotels across 11 cities.

Its Australian brands include Brisbane’s Hotel Indigo and the Kimpton Margot in Sydney. In NZ, it owns the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Queenstown. 

Its new Auckland building was built by Icon Construction NZ, an offshoot of a Victoria-based construction group and the lead contractor on Auckland’s 57-level Pacifica residences

The building was due to be finished in February, but that was rolled back largely due to logistics and the pandemic.

Hotel upturn

Its art-deco style ‘Bar Albert’ on the 38th floor (NZ's highest rooftop bar) has also been pushed back to mid-June, because of supply delays to the fit-out. 

Pro-Invest Hotels' new area general manager, Fraser McKenzie, said the launch of the Voco brand into the NZ market is symbolic of a “positive upturn” in international business and leisure travellers into the country.

He said the inner city property will be attractive to the corporate and meeting delegate market during the week, with more of a focus on leisure customers during the weekends. 

McKenzie, a Kiwi who most recently worked as general manager of the Swissotel Nankai in Osaka, Japan, said he expected the fourth quarter of the year to usher in a major resurgence in bookings and occupancy levels in the city.

He confirmed Pro-Invest was looking at “a number” of development opportunities across the country, likely to be outside Auckland.

McKenzie said the group is looking at other opportunities. (Image: Voco)

Recycling capital

Dean Humphries, national director of Colliers Hotels, said the firm was seeing significant interest in the number of hotels coming onto the market, as international borders opened and offshore investors were able to “actively review” opportunities.

Last year heralded a record $400m in hotel transactions, as vendors looked to “recycle capital” or rebalance their portfolios. 

That was after pandemic related losses to the local industry which the Hotel Council Aotearoa estimated wiped $1.5b from hotel receipts since early 2020.

Colliers is currently marketing the 4.5 star, 244-room Nesuto Stadium Hotel and Apartments in downtown Auckland, which Humphries said could come with a $100m price tag.


Other assets on the block include a portfolio of nine former Youth Hostel Association of NZ properties across the country, expected to sell for about $60m, and Christchurch’s Chateau on the Park, a 192-room hotel trading under Hilton’s DoubleTree brand.

The 286-room Stamford Plaza in Auckland has also recently been up for sale, one of six trans-Tasman hotels valued at A$1b put up for sale by Singapore listed Stamford Land Corp. That sale process has now been shelved, say local brokers.

JLL director of hotels and tourism, Nick Thompson, said there are a number of off-market deals emerging, with deals ranging from $20m to "some very large assets".

Buyers were particularly active out of Singapore and Southeast Asia and Australia, he said.