What inspired you to design and build Ohtel? After 20 years working in Architecture, and having an interest in property, I decided to design and build a small hotel in my home town Wellington and try my hand as a hotelier.
Alan your background is architecture, how have you found the move into hotel management? Some comparisons can be drawn between the two. Both rely on building successful relationships with the client or guest and you must deliver good value. The basic functions of running a business also remain, accounting and so on – sales, marketing and HR are all new skills I’ve had to acquire.
What sets Ohtel apart from other hotels in Wellington? Firstly its size; having only 10 rooms is unique in the Capital. As the owner I work with just 2 other Duty Managers to provide personalised, friendly service. Amenities such as original mid-century furniture, boutique beer and half bottles of wine in our minibars, 50 + SKY channels and free Wi-Fi are among a raft of numerous small but discernable improvements guests appreciate.
Tell us more about your exciting mini-bar cocktails. Can you share a recipe with us? I had been trying to think of an interesting design quirk for some coasters I wanted to have made for the hotel. An old You Tube interview I did with cocktail king Jacob Briars (formerly of 42 below) got me thinking about the idea of giving guests an excuse to have some fun in the rooms. My personal favourite is pasted below…
What restaurants do you recommend guests dine at in Wellington? I like ‘Ortega’ in Majoribank Street, ‘Charley Noble’ in Post Office Square and the fantastic weekend buffet brunch they have at ‘Osteria del Toro’ in Tory Street. Although there are at least 20 other great places, casual to fine-dining that I would recommend to my guests.
What would be your top three picks of places to visit in the Wellington area? A walk or drive up to the James Stellin memorial lookout, a Zest walking food tour and harbour ferry ride across to Days Bay for a short bush walk followed by an ice-cream.
What is a “must do” activity or experience in the Wellington area? Apart from staying at Ohtel, I love wandering around the Sunday produce market at Chaffers Marina. Apart from every kind of fresh fruit and veg’ – there is a huge assortment of tasty gourmet treats to sample from the array of food stalls along the edge of Waitangi Park.
We see Ohtel has a new Google & iPhone App, tell us more about that? Yes, also available for Android devices. Someone approached us with a ready-made platform and we thought the guests would find it a useful resource prior to, during and after their stay; Bookings, Our recommendations, Travel and transfers, Special Offers, you can even stream content from local radio stations…
The pieces of art placed in and around the hotel are an important feature of its story and design, do you have a favourite piece? The art is predominantly contemporary NZ, there are so many wonderful artists – as a photography fan, I really like the Derek Henderson pieces I have. There is also a great selection of mid-century ceramics from the likes of Nils Thorsson, and Royal Copenhagen.
Are there any current specials at Ohtel that you can share with us? Leading into Winter I always run a couple of deals – one for parents called ‘Ditch the Kids’ and another for couples that want to “re-connect” ‘Been a while?’ Check our website for these offers.
What “little extras” can guests expect to find at the hotel? Mouth wash and bath salts in the rooms, Tivoli clock radios, solar hot water, real espresso coffee served with breakfast…
Describe Ohtel in one short sentence. “Your space, our place”.
The rooms and hotel spaces have a lot of “Kiwiana” and retro furniture, how long did this take you to put together and where were most of the pieces sourced? It took about 2 years to collect the from mostly local sources… As we got closer to opening time, I had to take a trip to Australia to get some of the 50’s desks and lamps that were harder to find here. Fortunately, I stumbled across a group of small shops owned by one family. After telling them about my project, they took me to their warehouse!! I thought I had died and gone to heaven – definitely blew the furniture budget on that trip.
Are there any exciting events on the horizon at Ohtel or Wellington? The next big sporting event in Wellington is an AFL (Aussie Rules) game at the Stadium between St. Kilda and Brisbane Lions April 25th. Fashion Week has just finished, and preparations are underway for the start of the Comedy Festival, which starts April 24 thru May 18th – wellingtonnz.com is a good site to keep an eye on events in the capital.
Once guests have seen and experienced all that Wellington has to offer, what other destination in New Zealand would be your top pick? New Zealand’s rock stars are definitely Queenstown and Wanaka, but as we all know there are plenty of amazing low-key destinations people should see if they can. I love visiting the Motueka area and parts of Hawkes Bay, (mostly for the settled weather).
Being the craft beer capital of New Zealand what are your three favourite brews and go to craft beer bars? Recently I discovered Goldings ‘Free Dive Bar’ in Leed Street – not only do they have the most obscure New Zealand brews, but plenty of rare ale from the US of A. You can discover all of the craft beer bars on the Craft beer Captial website.