One of the first and biggest hotels to become a managed isolation facility in Auckland is ready to re-open its door for guests from today.
In the last two years, the Jet Park Hotel saw thousands of people checking in and out – sometimes not so willingly – while waiting for their isolation period to be over.
The brand-new bar furniture, stored since the beginning of the pandemic, did not get the chance to be assembled until a few weeks ago.
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The luxurious golden coffee tables and burgundy armchairs were meant to be part of the hotel’s newly renovated bar back in 2020, just before Jet Park became one of the biggest MIQ facilities in the country.
Marketing manager Angelique van der Merwe said the refurbishing marked the beginning of a new time in Jet Park’s history.
“All our rooms are fully refurbished, we’ve got brand new beds, brand new linen, the mini bars, the kettles, the mugs, the cups, everything has been replaced, so they are coming as they are coming to a brand- new hotels.
“We did want to make sure when we re-open guests feel comfortable enough to stay with us without feeling like a MIQ hotel, so pieces of art and color and those little touches … putting those back into the hotel gives it a little bit more of a hotel feel versus that facility feel,” she said.
Sustainability director Sonja Hermann said Jet Park Auckland was hoping to welcome MIQ guests back, this time with a more personal touch.
“Our approach throughout our MIQ journey was to value each of the people who stayed in our rooms as a hotel guest, so we hope that whilst it wasn’t their first choice to be here, there would be no reason for them to stay away other than the memory of having Covid?
“But our doors are open, we are open for all, and we are really looking forward to having some people back to see the amazing transformation and perhaps not all the Covid signage and the masks and the sanitising,” Hermann said.
The 221-bedroom hotel started being refurbished two months ago, and more work needed to be done before the re-opening.
To reduce environmental impact, all the furniture and items replaced were donated to staff members and some sent to a charity in Tonga to support those affected by the tsunami back in January.
Director Ashley Schierhout said the hotel’s renovation was planned before the pandemic but becoming a MIQ facility accelerated the process.
“You look at the average stay of a person, particularly at our property in previous history, spending maybe five hours on average in a room, and all of a sudden you bump from five hours to 24/7, 14 days to begin with MIQ . So, the wear and tear in the rooms is a lot harder. What we maybe would have done in two, three years was suddenly accelerated.”
Lorna Masoe has worked at Jet Park for 15 years.
She was one of many staff members involved in the day-to-day operations when the hotel was an isolation facility.
Masoe said even though she was scared in the beginning, the ability to help kept her going.
“I think when they first told us was a bit of a ‘oh, not sure, maybe not’. But then as everything started unfolding, all the people that you met. Everything just flows through.”
The best part of coming back to normal was yet to come, Masoe said.
“Seeing guests, interacting with staff, just adjusting back to normal, no masks, no PPE,” she said.
But how did people feel about staying in a hotel that used to be a MIQ facility?
In South Auckland, people are still considering it.
“I would stay in a hotel that has been a MIQ facility. I’m sure they cleaned everything afterwards,” one woman said.
“It wouldn’t be my first choice. Just with what’s been there and what was involved through the pandemic. From what you heard, those places weren’t treated the best,” a man said.
“I probably would, but sometimes you should think a bit harder about it,” another resident said.
For Jet Park Hotel, the expectations are as high as their preparations to welcome new guests, and Friday couldn’t come any sooner.