Waitara’s historic Masonic hotel for tender

5:00 AM Saturday March 26, 2016 True Commercial

The hotel was once owned by a Catholic family and known as The Vatican.

Taranaki’s Waitara’s historic Masonic Hotel — which recently had an extensive makeover — is now on the market.

Built in the 1880s, the Masonic can claim to be a true survivor — its former competitors The Bridge and Waitara Hotels were both destroyed by fires long ago.

The Bridge Hotel burned down in 1883, the day a Mr Tutty was handing over the premises to a Mr Prosser, after earlier selling him the lease.

In 1906, a fire destroyed the original Waitara Hotel, and reports suggest it was deliberately torched due to fierce competition for punters, as all hotels were facing McLean St, near the bridge, to catch customers coming into town.

The Bridge Hotel burned down three times in total, and was rebuilt twice, and The Waitara Hotel was demolished in 2009.

The buildings and business of the stalwart Masonic Hotel, with its corner position on McLean and Warre Roads, are for sale through Bayleys Taranaki. Tenders close on April 6.

Alan Johnston of Bayleys Taranaki says it is an opportunity to invest in a Waitara hospitality institution, with significant potential to develop further.

“The Masonic has come a long way since its days of being known as the Vatican when owned by the Faheys, a staunch Catholic family,” he says.

“The owners have given it an extreme makeover, with each room equipped with a flat screen TV, coffee and tea making facilities, luxury bed linen and pillows, bathroom amenities, and wireless internet.”

Prospective hoteliers and restaurateurs would be able to step in and own a business with the hard work already done in renovating the accommodation and facilities.

“The hotel has a public bar with 18 gaming machines, a lounge bar, dining room, owner/manager flat, and eight four-star accommodation suites each with its own ensuite, with room to build another four,” he says.

“There’s also generous off-street parking.

“Also on offer are the adjacent buildings on either side, on their own leasehold titles.”

TRUECOMMMasonicHotel2.jpg

The lounge and bar area of Waitara’s historic Masonic Hotel.

The total leasehold land area is 1528sq m, over three titles leased through to 30/9/27. Included in the three titles are the ex-bottle store on Warre St, and an adjacent vacant retail store. The building floor area is 1160sq m.

The total land rent per year is $3985 plus GST and operating expenses.

One title is 510sq m, and costs $765 in land rent annually, plus GST and operating expenses. The second title is 847 sq. m, and costs $2430 in land rent annually, plus GST and operating expenses.

The third, at 171sq m, costs $790 per year. Johnston says there is scope to explore turning part of the property into a bottle store.

He says the hotel is within walking distance of the beach, the Waitara River, and located just off State Highway 3, about 15 minutes from New Plymouth, and in an excellent location for guests to experience the best of Taranaki’s tourism offerings.

Johnston says with an increasing number of events held at locations like New Plymouth’s TSB Bowl of Brooklands, accommodation in Taranaki was at a premium.

“With sell-out concerts for Womad and other high profile artists heading to Taranaki, and New Plymouth’s borders heading ever northward, Waitara is an easy, close option for tourists and fans,” he says.

Prospective buyers could look to the extensive marketing of the area, and push to get events to the region, from up-and-coming sports codes such as the New Zealand Handball Nationals, to the international World Surfing Pros.

“The investment into Taranaki tourism is a vote of confidence for any investor looking to buy holiday accommodation.

“Last year, Venture Taranaki rolled out two visitor campaigns, targeting a range of audiences,” Johnston says.

“There was a physical launch at the Waikato Home and Garden Show, with advertising across Wellington, Auckland, Palmerston North, and Waikato, and it was supplemented by a digital strategy including social media and an updating of the Taranaki Must Do guide.” More than 20,000 copies of the Must Do guide were being requested every year.

The hotel had a range of guests, for Womad and other concerts, and for work and corporate guests.

“The hotel’s occupancy rate has significantly grown — in December 2014 there were 41 guest nights, and in December last year there were 97,” he says.

The room rate is $130 per night for a couple, including GST and a continental breakfast, and $60 extra for an additional person in a room.

Over the past three months, the hotel has retained at least 20 per cent occupancy rates — in December 2015 the rate was 21.37 per cent, January 22.85 per cent, and in February 31.46 per cent occupancy.