Wellington unveils plans for $125m hotel and convention centre

Wellington is joining the rush to build new convention centres.

The city council has unveiled plans for the capital’s first five-star hotel, which will be operated by the Hilton group.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown issued a statement yesterday evening saying the convention centre and five-star hotel project would involve "no capital investment or construction risk for the city", although the council's economic development committee chair, Jo Coughlan, says the convention centre was likely to require a three-year council subsidy.

The 165-bed hotel will include a purpose-built, 2500-seat conference venue, which will be the third largest after the proposed national convention centre in Auckland and one in Christchurch.

Queenstown is also getting a new convention centre. All are expected to be built by 2017-18.

This will leave Dunedin, which has rejected a new high-rise hotel development, as the only main centre without plans for new convention facilities.

Wellington property developer Mark Dunajtschik is behind the new Hilton complex, which will be built on a Cable St site opposite the Te Papa museum.

The site is already zoned for accommodation and a resource consent is likely to be non-notifiable.

Details of the business plan, council involvement, costs and design have yet to be completed.

But mayor Celia Wade-Brown says council support in the form of an annual contribution is likely, as the capital has no five-star establishment and the Hilton will offer a new level of accommodation.

"The economic benefits to Wellington go far wider than directly to the convention centre and the hotel. It's good for Wellington business as a whole, and good for employment," she is quoted as saying.

Wellington is the country's second largest conference destination behind Auckland, making up 14% of the country's total international convention centre market and earning more than $100 million each year.

With reporting by BusinessDesk