Karapiro’s ‘turnkey’ tourism campus

5:06 PM Friday March 23, 2018 Colin Taylor

An aerial view of the Lakeside Spa & Resort in Karapiro. Photo / Supplied

Land and buildings encompassing one of Waikato’s biggest planned rural tourism projects, which is ready to begin trading almost immediately, have been placed on the market.

Featured in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio magazine, the Lakeside Spa & Resort at Karapiro is a newly-built, self-contained, large-scale accommodation facility and function complex spread over 35.44ha of farmland immediately adjacent to Lake Karapiro just south of Cambridge.

The land and buildings supporting Lakeside Spa & Resort at 987-1002 Tirau Rd are being jointly marketed for sale by private treaty through Bayleys Auckland and Bayleys Hamilton – with a deadline for offers closing at 4pm on Thursday April 12.

The extensive catalogue of buildings and amenities on site – none of which has ever been used –  includes:

• 45 standalone one-bedroom chalets of about 59sq m. Two of the units have been fully furnished and fitted out to a ‘showroom’ standard – including TVs, kitchen appliances, bedding, all cutlery and crockery. The chalets are all linked by a concrete road and path network.

• A fully spec’d stand-alone conference facility capable of hosting up to 55 guests with a flat grassed area immediately in front suitable for erecting a marquee.

• A world-class health and fitness centre, including a 20m indoor heated swimming pool with commercial-grade filtration plant and Rheem water heating system, complemented by gymnasium-styled men’s and women’s locker/changing rooms.

• More than 10 spa consultation suites, hydrotherapy, saunas, steam room and beauty treatment rooms with some having private courtyards and outdoor showers.

• An enclosed, spot-lit, full-sized AstroTurf tennis court.

• A commercial laundry with washing machine and dryer, along with the plumbing and electrical fittings to add more whiteware.

• A 60-seater restaurant area supported by a commercial-grade kitchen - with foodservice preparation equipment and walk-in refrigeration/freezer storage space.

• Reception lobby and administrative offices.

• Tar-sealed driveway leading to 60 marked car parking spaces.

• A one-bedroom manager’s apartment with panoramic countryside views, which could be converted into an expanded hospitality space overlooking the pool and wooden deck.

• A private five-bedroom staff or manager’s residence, immediately adjacent to the chalets and administrative block, on 9.5ha of flat land, with around 270m of riparian rights onto Lake Karapiro.

Carolyn Hanson, Bayleys’ Auckland tourism and hospitality specialist, says the Lakeside Spa & Resort property has been fully landscaped – ranging from a gated stone entrance leading up the wide tree-lined sealed driveway, through to paving and shrub planting around all of the venue’s communal buildings and accommodation chalets.

Hanson says the owners of Lakeside Spa & Resort purchased the property about four years ago - finishing and extensively landscaping it.

“The property’s assets have remained fully maintained but in an unused state over the intervening years. A live-in property manager has kept the infrastructure in pristine condition ready for occupation,” Hanson says.

True Commercial - 987-1002 Tirau Rd%2c Reception building .jpg

The reception and administration building. Photo / Supplied

“With a shortage of tourism accommodation in the Waikato and international visitor numbers continuing to grow year-on-year, the site’s owners have now decided to take Lakeside Spa & Resort to the market,” Hanson says.

“Hobbiton in Matamata is only a short drive away and is a recognised tourist destination that has shown on-going solid growth attracting about 500,000 visitors last year. Hobbiton wasn’t on the radar when Lakeside Spa & Resort was first planned; neither was Lake Karapiro the major sporting centre it is now. Another regional attraction, Waitomo Caves continues to grow in popularity – clicking around 1000 people a day through.”

Nick Thompson, Bayleys’ hotel and tourism sales director, says Lakeside Spa & Resort is a ‘turnkey’ operation ready-made for a new owner or operator to step in and open it to the public for the first time.

“It’s a ‘blank canvas’ opportunity that can be completed to the taste and budget of any style,” Thompson says.

“Minimal maintenance work is required to prepare the property for an opening; we’re literally talking about cleaning off a few cobwebs and dusting some of the chalets’ eves and window frames.

“Internally, the accommodation suites simply require the addition of some decoration and Manchester; while the restaurant and front-of-house service areas need furnishing and equipping with cutlery and crockery. Telecommunications IT support systems are already connected through to the office and reception areas and are ready to ‘go live’,” Thompson says.

“Under the present configuration, the Lakeside Spa & Resort business would easily qualify for a Five-Star accommodation rating; and could sustain a staff contingent of up to 20 fulltime employees across all operating sections.

“From an investment ownership perspective, there are several boutique hotel brands in New Zealand that are open to discussing the potential for leasing the management rights to the property under their monikers. As Lakeside Spa & Resort has never traded and is unbranded, this would allow for a seamless entry into the tourism market.”

Hanson says the resort’s new, unused, commercial-grade, stainless steel kitchen has walk-in chiller and freezer units, a ‘combi’ oven, a six-burner hob, and overhead griller– all under a full length stainless steel extraction canopy hood with fans. Around the edge of the kitchen are a variety of stainless steel ‘prepping’ benches, along with new commercial dishwashing and rinsing units, a chef’s office, and dry goods storage room

Thompson says the property for sale also includes 20.35ha of neighbouring separately-titled grazing grassland - currently vested in six fenced paddocks and leased as a finishing block irrigated by its own water bore.

True Commercial - 987-1002 Tirau Rd%2c Karapiro - swimming pool.jpg

The facility has a 20m heated indoor swimming pool. Photo / Supplied

He says the sizeable grassed plot of adjoining land could be developed to sustain a wide variety of leisure activities – such as clay-bird shooting, short-course golf, archery, petanque, or drone racing – all suitable for team-building pursuits favoured by the corporate sector for mid-week bookings.

“Cambridge sits on the fringe of the North Island’s ‘Golden Triangle’ connecting the substantial populations of Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. With all three cities less than two-hour’s drive away, Lakeside Spa & Resort is strategically positioned to build a strong corporate clientele business model.”

Additionally, a tree-covered hill on the property neighbouring the farmland and leading down to Lake Karapiro could easily be landscaped for mountain biking and/or as a walking track for guests. “This was not on the agenda when the property was first built, but the popularity of mountain-biking over the past five years has certainly brought this aspect to the forefront of recreational tourism,” Thompson says.

“Any development of such tracks could also be used for equestrian-based recreational activities – with horse trekking rides through the bush or paddock land presently leased out to local riders. Such commercial tourist ventures could be made available to the general public, as well as to lodge guests.

“Alternatively, the immense area of greenfield space could be developed to sustain more accommodation suites to add to the venue’s critical mass, without the need to add more spa, service or administration infrastructure.

“A split-target marketing approach could work in well in attracting a business sector clientele Monday to Thursday, and a leisure market clientele Friday to Sunday off the back of the resort’s closeness to popular Lake Karapiro which is now a premier freshwater sporting venue,” Thompson says.

“The competitive sporting events and tournaments taking place on Lake Karapiro encompass multiple sports; there’s rowing, kayaking, canoeing, wake-boarding and waka ama – with virtually all of these hosting events and competitions at both school and club levels, and on regional, North Island, and national scales.

“In addition to catering to the participants and supporters of various aquatic sports, the Lakeside Spa & Resort could also be totally self-sufficient as a wedding venue. “There’s plenty of space to add a marquee and a large number of guests could be accommodated on-site; with all food and beverage being prepared and served from the resort’s kitchen and bar.”

True Commercial - Carolyn Hanson%2c Bayleys.jpg

Carolyn Hanson of Bayleys.