Novotel Hotel, Christchurch Hero

Novotel Hotel Christchurch: a key step towards attracting visitors back into the city

Following the devastating earthquake in February 2011, much of Christchurch’s CBD lay in ruins. The four star Novotel, which had only been open for a year at the time, was forced to close. It lay in Christchurch’s no go red zone.

In May 2012 repairs to the 14-storey hotel began. Everyone agreed that infrastructure was a major priority and vital to attracting visitors back into the city. A little over a year later, it was complete.


Accor’s Goals:

  • To reinstate the hotel back to its original condition
  • To strengthen the seismic standard to meet the new building code.

What we did:

Our first step was to enter the building and assess the damage. While structural damage was minor, there was extensive interior and aesthetic damage. As a result we:

  • removed and replaced all exterior concrete panels on the north, west and south faces of the building
  • organized extensive work to the building services such as fire protection, mechanical, gas, plumbing, and drainage
  • laid down new carpet and tiles throughout the entire hotel after repairing the cracked floors with filler
  • completely refurbished the interior including replacing wall panels before the interiors work was carried out
  • carried out aesthetic repairs to conceal an entrance way that once connected the Novotel to a heritage hotel, which had to be demolished post-earthquake.

We ensured the building met the strict requirements set out in the Building Code. This meant we had to increase the building’s seismic strength beyond what it had previously been.

Unique challenges:

The construction site was in the red zone in the Christchurch CBD. This created unusual conditions for our team in unchartered territory as it involved a lot of coordination with Christchurch City Council and working around rubble from surrounding buildings. There were also strict conditions around aftershocks: if an aftershock reached five or above on the Richter scale the site had to be evacuated until Civil Defence were satisfied it was safe to begin work again.

The Outcome:

The Novotel reopened its doors in August 2013, becoming the second Accor property to resurrect itself since the rebuild of the city began.  It marked an exciting and substantial step in the much-needed recovery of Christchurch’s tourism and accommodation industry.