The Register talks to QT Auckland general manager, Doron Whaite, on the ins and outs of the city’s most exciting hotel.
What has the process been like to build a hotel from the ground up while battling challenges that have come from Covid-19?
2020 has no doubt been a year of unparalleled challenges across the world. The construction of QT Auckland had been well underway, as we had initially planned to open our doors mid-year. While a brief pause in construction moved our projected opening date to November, the team were absolute troopers and kept planning, working and moving forward so we could open our doors.
What makes a QT hotel a QT hotel? What are your distinctions to other hotels within NZ?
Each hotel reflects its surrounds and while QT carries a common design-led thread, every hotel is a character in its own right. Guests can expect contemporary design with vintage influences and the brand is synonymous with quirky luxury – something that is interpreted differently for each property.
At QT Auckland we have Directors of Chaos – a signature role unlike any other. These theatrical hosts act as a walking, talking little black book of all the best things to do in Auckland. QT is not just a destination for visitors from near and far – the hotels are an integral part of the communities they reside in, and are as much a hub for locals as they are for guests.
How is the Auckland QT unique compared to the nine other QT hotels?
QT Auckland aptly celebrates its harbourside setting, loosely inspired by the oyster and the oyster trawler. By contrast, QT Queenstown brings to life après-ski and the year-long outdoor sports scene, bringing bold ski jacket and active wear patterns to aspects of the interior, and QT Wellington has an iconic art gallery theme as a nod to the creative capital.
QT Auckland is an impressive bundle of collaborations. How did these partnerships come about?
Nic Graham has worked with QT since its inception eight years ago, when he collaborated on QT Gold Coast. He knows the QT brand through and through, and along with the QT Design Team has been integral to the development of the design DNA, mixing vintage styling with a modern twist and lashings of quirk.
Chef Sean Connolly was a fantastic fit for QT, joining our family of well-established and highly successful signature restaurants featuring renowned chefs. Sean has brought to life QT Auckland’s signature restaurant, Esther, and believes in the magic that sets the QT brand apart – as QT is all about celebrating individuality, there was no better fit.
We partnered with Maggie Marilyn to create a curated Front of House uniform, with a theatrical style to suit the bold position and empower the Directors of Chaos. The brand was the perfect sustainable label to customise a look for our local-focused, design-driven hotel, and our shared values ensured an authentic partnership.
What benefits do these collaborations bring?
Collaborating allows us to infuse the hotel with expertise from different industries and helps to hone a specific, unlike-any-other identity. We wanted to work with New Zealand brands and artists to give the hotel a distinctly Auckland feel.
How is QT changing the perception of hotel restaurants?
Sean joins EVENT Group’s success in breaking down the stigma of ‘hotel restaurants’. We strive to deliver amazing quality and 5-star luxury in stylish, premium spaces that are very much for locals as they are for hotel guests. Sean and Nic have worked closely together on a shared vision to bring an emphasis on the guest experience. They’ve collaborated on everything from a hero art installation, to crockery, and the exact colour of a custom French oven.
How has QT built its loyal customer base over time?
Guests love QT’s luxurious take on quirk and creativity, our signature service, and our contemporary, produce-driven restaurants and high energy bars. The growth of the QT brand is underpinned by its strong appeal to both locals and travelers – while each hotel is undeniably QT, every hotel is unique and bespoke to its environment. We believe in reflecting the local community, celebrating local artists and being a hub of culture for the area.
What are your hopes for ‘Rooftop at QT’? Do you think the bar will become a new hotspot?
We have no doubt that Rooftop at QT will quickly become a favourite haunt for Auckland locals and a must-visit spot for visitors. Perched on the sixth floor with beautiful views of the marina, cocktails on tap, and a tapas menu designed for lazy grazing by Sean Connolly, it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon drink in the sun or, when the DJ arrives, the place to be for a night out.