13 November 2008: The Methven Resort Hotel, marketed by Harcourts as a mortgagee sale since earlier this year, has been purchased by a Canterbury businessman with ambitious plans for the future of the business.
Bruce Page of Harcourts Grenadier City Commercial says the four-star hotel and conference centre was bought recently by experienced tourism and hospitality industry professional Mark Smith, who earlier this year sold French Farm Restaurant and Function Centre near Akaroa.
Opened in 1986, the Methven Resort Hotel consists of 46 rooms, three function rooms with the capacity for up to 685 guests in total, a large restaurant and two bars while outside on the 1.2ha site there is a 25-metre heated swimming pool, three outdoor hot pools, a private sauna and spa. Originally a family-owned business the hotel was most recently operated by the Dynasty Group.
The new owner, Mr Smith, says the hotel “just needs some TLC and a bit of an update”.
“It has a good accommodation and function set-up, excellent added features like a five-lane heated competition swimming pool and huge potential, particularly from the Ashburton market, so it was a wonderful challenge I couldn’t pass up. All it really needs is a refresh and for us to get more involved in the community in order to generate business.”
Straight onto making improvements, including renovating the guest rooms, upgrading the hotel’s infrastructure, installing double-glazing and giving the gardens a make-over, Mr Smith says he hopes to re-open the hotel within a few weeks and has ambitious plans to build the business back up.
“Things are coming together really nicely and we’ve had excellent support from the community including the council and local tradespeople so it’s quite a team effort really and word is definitely spreading about what we’re doing. Even before settlement had occurred I had a 60th booked and was starting to work on Christmas functions and some options involving the pool, so it’s exciting times.”
Mr Page, who dealt with numerous interested parties prior to the sale to Mr Smith, says Methven is rapidly becoming a year-round destination for tourists and conferences. Only one hour from Christchurch it is close to Mt Hutt ski field and other local attractions including Rakaia George, Terrace Downs Golf Resort and Lake Coleridge.
Methven’s Big AL crashed off his bicycle on the Mt Hutt access road while competing in the Peak to Pub.
Crashing off his bicycle on the treacherous Mt Hutt Ski Area access road has not been enough to dampen the sporting spirit of Al Gilchrist.
The Methven ski shop owner was seriously injured in the Peak to Pub race last month, but plans to be on his bike again at next year’s event.
Mr Gilchrist, better known as Big Al, said he remembered little of the accident itself. As a member of a team competing in the Peak to Pub, he recalls making it down the road’s steep and windy sections, and passing the information centre booth at the bottom. He sped on at about 70km/h around a sweeping bend, and thinks some catastrophic equipment failure must have resulted in what happened next.
He has no recollection of coming off his bike, and there were no witnesses to the crash, but Mr Gilchrist thinks a stone may have locked the disc brake, or a wheel of the bicycle may have fallen off. The result was the bicycle stopping dead in its tracks, and its rider flying through the air and hitting the shingle road in front.
After gaining consciousness in hospital, where he spent 10 days, Mr Gilchrist learned he had broken his neck and his back. He also sustained a reasonably severe head injury, snapped tendons and broke ribs. Recovery has been slow.
As his swollen spinal chord and head injury heals, he suffers numbness on one side of his body and weakness on the other.
He also suffers short-term memory loss, although he no longer has slurred speech.
He wears a back and neck brace, and describes the feeling he has when walking as similar to being “alcohol-impaired”.
“It seems like it’s taking forever, it’s really really slow; you think you are getting better then you will have a discussion with someone and forget you have even been talking to them.”
But Mr Gilchrist counts himself lucky he was not paralysed, and hopes to make a full recovery.
He also is thankful to three fellow Peak to Pub racers who, mid-race, bowed out to lend him a hand. Former St John volunteer Karyn Heald, Methven Volunteer Fire Brigade member Philip Duff and Christchurch doctor Lynne Pugh were all on the scene, using their vast medical experience.
Such company is good enough to race again with next year, Mr Gilchrist reckons.
“I hope I make a full recovery and go in the Peak to Pub next year,” he said.