Solway Park supporting local economy

Looking after visitors and putting on a good show is only part of the great work going on at Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park. Wairarapa’s largest hotel is also injecting millions of dollars back into the local economy.

A popular conferencing venue for corporates from around the country, Solway Park draws in visitors 12-months of the year. Their local spend while in the region is considerable, and combined with other guests and tour groups tops nearly $1million.

The hotel is a strong supporter of local food producers with total annual receipts nearing $1million. A further $125,000 is spent on advertising, promotions and sponsorship, all going back into the community.

Opened in 1972, Solway Park has more than doubled in size, now boasting over 100 rooms, large convention spaces, an indoor swimming pool, golf driving range and bars and restaurants.

The flagship of Trust House Limited’s portfolio of hospitality businesses, the iconic venue employs 71 staff – a mix of full time and part time.

Trust House chief executive officer Allan Pollard says key to Solway Park’s continued success has been the ongoing reinvestment into the facility.

The most recent is the current $2.5million refurbishment of the complex including the upgrade of accommodation rooms. All of this work is carried out by local contractors with upwards of $800,000 spent annually on trades, services and supplies.

A busy summer season at Solway Park mirrored national growth in the tourism and hospitality sector with occupancy rates up nearly 2% for February.

Of particular note is that Solway Park serves a predominantly domestic market, which nationally dropped 2%. A nearly 7% spike in international guest nights in New Zealand pushed total guest nights to over 4 million for the month of February, an increase of 2% on the same period last year.

Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson says Solway Park has supported the growth of Masterton’s tourism industry, both recreational and business [tourism].

“The economic benefits of tourists coming in to the region continue to be felt widely throughout the region; the more people we’re able to bring in to Masterton the better it is for local businesses and our communities,” Mrs Paterson says.

Solway Park has supported the growth of Masterton’s tourism industry, both recreational and business [tourism]. The economic benefits of tourists coming in to the region continue to be felt widely throughout the region; the more people we’re able to bring in to Masterton the better it is for local businesses and our communities.

Lyn Patterson

Masterton Mayor

Former long-time Masterton mayor Bob Francis says when compared to facilities in bigger centres such as Palmerston North, Solway Park sits way above anything that they have to offer.

”We are very fortunate to have it. It is a very significant economic driver in this region,” Mr Francis says.

Solway Park is a very significant economic driver in this region, and when compared to facilities in bigger centres [such as Palmerston North] it sits way above anything that they have to offer, so we are very fortunate to have it.

Bob Francis

While the bumper summer season has been very pleasing, “keeping busy” over the winter is the real measure of success, says Solway Park general manager Jill Harrison. Conferencing is an important part of the business model, she says, with a lot of emphasis on securing bookings for the quieter April to October period.

As the only large capacity accommodation provider in the region, Solway Park is critical to the success of conferences and events held throughout the Wairarapa, according to Destination Wairarapa general manager David Hancock.

With its breadth of facilities and close proximity to Wellington and Palmerston North, Solway Park is an “attractive option” for conferences.

As the only large capacity accommodation provider in the region, Solway Park is critical to the success of conferences and events held throughout the Wairarapa.

David Hancock

Destination Wairarapa General Manager

With its breadth of facilities and close proximity to Wellington and Palmerston North, Solway Park is an “attractive option” for conferences.

“Staying competitive with the main centres and other conferencing providers is something that we are very mindful of, so continuing to reinvest in the facility is really important,” Mrs Harrison says.

As well as contributing significantly to the local economy, Solway Park is a major employer, often providing young people with their first job opportunities.

Cleveland Conaghan was taken on last year in a full-time capacity straight from Makoura College after graduating through the YETE partnership programme (Youth, Education, and Training & Employment). The 18-year old says he loves his job, meeting new and interesting people all the time.

He hopes that the job will act as a spring-board to a long career in the hospitality industry. “I won’t be here forever, but maybe one day I might return to be the manager,” he says.

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park general manager Jill Harrison with some of her 71-staff.
One of the completed refurbished apartments. There are over 100 accommodation rooms and apartments at Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park.
Cleveland Conaghan was taken on last year in a full-time capacity straight from Makoura College after graduating through the YETE partnership programme.
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