AUCKLAND'S former Westin Hotel on the edge of the Wynyard Quarter is to be rebranded Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour.
Accor, the world's largest hotel chain, yesterday announced it was changing the 173-room waterfront hotel to become a Sofitel, following last year's announcement that it would manage the property which was initially under its MGallery range, although it traded as Hotel Lighter Quay.
The building at the intersection of Halsey St, Gaunt St and Viaduct Harbour Ave is Accor's 10th in Auckland and 33rd in New Zealand and for some years traded as the Westin, which launched with a high-profile anti-tobacco campaign.
The hotel has hosted stars such as Pamela Anderson, David Beckham and Kanye West and has served as the headquarters for New Zealand Fashion Week.
Paul Richardson, Accor New Zealand vice-president, said yesterday the Sofitel was a luxury offering which Auckland needed. "The property is outstanding and with Accor management and Sofitel branding we believe we can develop it to its full potential.
"This is an area of Auckland that truly reflects the most attractive attributes of the city and we will complement that with distinctive accommodation, backed by quality 5-star service.
"We expect the hotel to become as much a destination for New Zealand travellers as overseas visitors and over the next month we will launch a new restaurant and relaunch the spa centre, which will be one Auckland's most desirable urban spas," Richardson said.
Wouter de Graaf, general manager of the Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa, will move to Auckland to manage the property.
Rooms will start at $299 a night.
Accor previously had only the Queenstown hotel under the Sofitel brand.
The Auckland property was originally developed by Nigel McKenna's Melview Developments but was marred with disputes over payments from the former management to investors who own rooms.
The hotel had three names during a short period, changing from Westin Lighter Quay last autumn to Viaduct Harbour Hotel in July then Hotel Lighter Quay in September.
Behind the name change was a fierce fight as room owners demanded payments and became so disenchanted that they split away from Westin and carved out a separate lodging business, undercutting the Westin by charging cheap rates.