Grand old lady gets upgrade

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    AS the impetus to rejuvenate Invercargill’s CBD ramps up, the restoration of one of the inner city’s historic buildings is already well under way.

    The 51 rooms of The Grand Accommodation, formerly the Grand Hotel, are being systematically redecorated by hotel manager Linda McGaw and her daughter Brooke, whose family has owned the hotel since 2009.

    “It is really exciting to be in Invercargill at this time with the progress that is happening in the city,” Ms McGaw said.

    So far 27 rooms had been redecorated, with plans to also upgrade the bathrooms and common rooms.

    The rooms were being decorated in a boutique style “… being sympathetic to what was with a modern twist,” she said.

    There was no timeframe for when the renovations would be completed but rather it was an on going project.

    “It’s a passion with clarity.”

    The Grand Accommodation manager Linda McGaw in the New York room, an upgraded room in the hotel.
    The Grand Accommodation manager Linda McGaw in the New York room, an upgraded room in the hotel.

    The response to the renovation of The Grand from members of the public had been positive, she said.

    “People are happy to see The Grand coming to life again.”

    Since the Grand Hotel opened in 1913, it has hosted many famous guests including members of The Rolling Stones who had lunch there, the contentious Springbok rugby team in 1981 and most notably Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, who stayed at the hotel during their visit to New Zealand in 1954.

    “The Queen having stayed at the hotel was a very big drawcard for the boutique guests.”

    The category two historic building was an Invercargill Licensing Trust hotel from the mid-1940s to the early 2000s, later being leased by the Southern Institute of Technology for student accommodation until January 2014.

    Ms McGaw said the hotel was now being marketed to “all facets of life”, including tourists and business people.

    She declined to say how much the project was costing, only saying it was “being done by hard work and hard slog”.

    An increasing number of community events and groups were now utilising The Grand’s facilities, she said.

    Grand Hotel being renovated
    A newly-renovated room. renovations

    The Heritage Ball was held there last year and has been booked again for March 25 this year. Its restaurant was the venue for Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt’s Christmas dinner last year and the old Wool Bar has been made available for use by community groups for a “nominal fee”, she said.

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