Christchurch Airport hopes New Zealand’s first pod-style hotel will help solve the problem of passengers bunking down in its terminal.
As part of its expansion into building shops, office parks and hotels, the airport has built a $9 million premises on its campus for the new Jucy Snooze hotel.
The hostel-style hotel will house backpackers in an updated version of the Japanese capsule concept. It will be officially unveiled by Prime Minister John Key on Thursday morning, with doors opening to guests on November 1.
Passengers sleeping at the airport since the earthquakes have blamed a critical shortage of affordable guest accommodation in the city.
An airport spokeswoman said numbers varied, but up to 50 people a night still slept over. An average of 15 to 20 people nightly are paying $10 to hire a bean bag, while 25 to 30 are sleeping in chairs.
The airport banned passengers from lying down to sleep in the terminal when increasing numbers began rolling out sleeping bags for the night, some even erecting tents.
Jucy Snooze co-owner Tim Alpe said reservations at the new hotel had exceeded expectations. More than 600 mainly overseas visitors have booked rooms or pods.
Guests will pay $39 for a night in a pod, or $10 an hour for two-to-four hour nap between flights. Alpe said the company had rejected the “morgue-type” sleeping compartments seen in some Japanese pod hotels, in favour of something more open.
The airport has also expanded the Sudima Hotel, and will build a new $80m 4.5 star Novotel. Of its $43m profit for the year to June, more than half came from non-core business such as property development.
The activity has upset other Christchurch hoteliers and property owners. Developers Antony Gough and Philip Carter have both spoken out about new tourist accommodation going up at the airport, saying it is hindering the revival of the central city.
Tourism Industry Association hotel sector regional chairman Bruce Garrett said he did not think the pod hotel would take business from inner city hotels.
“I think it’s quite a different concept.”
He said the pod hotel targeted a specific market, and was a positive thing for the city.
“It gives travellers coming to Christchurch another option, which will hopefully encourage more people to spend the night in Christchurch rather than just pass right through.”
Jucy Snooze has 271 beds, with 144 pods arranged eight to a room, and 61 ensuite bedrooms. Pod rooms are for women, or mixed.
The pods have been tailormade in China at a cost of about $2000 each. They will include a single bed with linen, privacy screen, charging unit, personal light, mirror, internal fan, and storage. Kitchen, dining, lounge, bathroom and laundry facilities are shared.
Access is 24 hours, and guests can check-in and out with their smart phones. Room cards are issued by a computer in the lobby. Between 12 and 15 staff will run the hotel.
Jucy hopes to have 11 pod hotels in New Zealand and Australia within four years, with the first due to open in central Queenstown late next year. Alpe said they would like one in central Christchurch, as well.
The company, launched in Auckland in 2001 Tim Alpe and his brother Dan, runs a fleet of rental cars and campervans in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, a hostel in Auckland and Fiordland cruises.
Most of Christchurch’s major backpacker lodges were lost in the earthquakes. The only major new hostel built in the central city since the earthquakes is the 300-bed All Stars Inn on Bealey Ave.
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