Pullman Hotel

PHOTO: Auckland’s Pullman Hotel was one of many used as a managed isolation and quarantine facility (file image). Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Some managed isolation hotels are completely refurbishing their rooms after acting as virus containment zones for the last two years.

They are replacing thousands of towels, sheets and other equipment before tourists stay in the same suites that quarantined overseas arrivals did, many of them with Covid-19.

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They expect the pandemic will keep tourist numbers low but are hoping New Zealand’s success at containing Covid-19 will be a drawcard.

From this weekend one of the most successful and controversial parts of New Zealand’s Covid-19 response, managed isolation, is basically over.

Accor New Zealand was the biggest provider of MIQ hotels in the country with 10 facilities, including the Novotel, the Grand Mercure and the Pullman, among others.

Accor sales and marketing director Iain Ganner said the business had a big job ahead of it refitting rooms ahead of the return of tourists.

“We are replacing all bedding, linen, towels, soft furnishings, just because of high use. I think it’s about 3600 beds overall for us,” Ganner said.

Normally people only spent eight hours a day in a hotel room; in MIQ they spent 23 hours.

The hotels will completely closed down to do the refits, Ganner said.

They also have to retrain staff for a role they had not done in two years, and get things like bars and restaurants back up and running before they can reopen to visitors.

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“So 30 days downtime, we expect. We also want to reward those employees that have been through this pandemic and on the frontline for the last two years and give them a bit of a break as well,” Ganner said.

Being able to serve the country by providing MIQ was “immensely rewarding”, Ganner said, but laughed and said they like it when people come into their hotels voluntarily.

Hotel Council Aotearoa’s James Doolan said frontline hotel staff at MIQs around the country had done an incredible job.

“Some of them were shunned by their friends when there was a lot of virus fear about. It’s been an extraordinary effort from the hard workers at those properties to spend two years doing something completely different from what they trained to do,” Doolan said.

Ganner said Accor was expecting about 60 or 70 percent of its pre-pandemic business back by summer 2022-23.

However, he was hoping New Zealand’s Covid-19 success would be a drawcard for many people.

“We’re getting great signals out from markets such as the US and Canada of great demand to come to New Zealand,” Ganner said.

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