Nelson Tasman’s homes empty as Auckland travelers are locked in

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Whenever Jacinda Ardern steps onto the podium to announce the latest Alert Level decision, Jane Cunliffe holds her breath.

Then, as the lockdown continues, she watches the cancellations happen.

“It takes us away every weekend that we were full,” said the owner of Appleby House and Rabbit Island Huts.

They opened the business five years ago with the goal of providing a more “Kiwi” hosting experience.

Jane Cunliffe at the family business Appleby House and Rabbit Island Huts.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

Jane Cunliffe at the family business Appleby House and Rabbit Island Huts.

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It took off – especially with European tourists – and they were regularly full, she said.

Then Covid struck.

She and John Stolemaker saw their business cut in half last year when international tourism stopped. After that, they refocused on group bookings and events, and saw the year pretty well, until the latest bottlenecks saw that market dry up as well.

Now they were only about 20% booked and cancellations kept pouring in.

“It’s really important to us as long as [Auckland’s] firm.”

They hadn’t realized how much they relied on Auckland travelers until this lockdown, she said.

“This Covid has really upset us much more [than last year’s lockdown]. “

Century Park Motel owner Stacie Warren said as long as Auckland was on lockdown the accommodation industry would struggle.

Stacie Warren of the family-owned Century <a class=Park Motor Lodge says the ongoing lockdown in Auckland is hitting Nelson’s businesses hard.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

Stacie Warren of the family-owned Century Park Motor Lodge says the ongoing lockdown in Auckland is hitting Nelson’s businesses hard.

In addition to people traveling out of Auckland, the current restrictions meant that many business trips were put on hold and the canceled events were another blow to further curtail business.

They were usually full on school holiday weekends. This weekend has just been, they only occupied two rooms, she said.

“Two bedrooms for the weekend during the school holidays is a pretty devastating weekend.”

Warren, who is also president of accommodation for the Nelson sector of Hospitality New Zealand, said it wasn’t just the businesses that suffered.

“My poor laundromat didn’t order sheets. Everyone in the chain is affected.

But, there were ways to help hosting providers.

As Christmas approached, gift certificates were now a way to generate cash, she said.

“The vouchers, with Christmas coming, would be a great way to help us out right now … let’s support accommodation and give someone a special night.”

People might also think about booking a night away from the kids without having to go out of town, she suggested.

“It would be great if they wanted to have a date.”

If people wanted to lock down a local stay, Warren urged them to book directly rather than going through online travel agents, who take more than 15% of the fee.

Making a phone call or emailing to make a reservation would make a difference for accommodation providers who were already lowering their rates in an attempt to attract customers, she said.

Jane Cunliffe at the family business Appleby House and Rabbit Island Huts.  People don't have to drive for hours to have a special evening, she says.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

Jane Cunliffe at the family business Appleby House and Rabbit Island Huts. People don’t have to drive for hours to have a special evening, she says.

Cunliffe said that with cancellations happening every week as new alert level announcements were made, there were often vacancies available at short notice.

Many of the locals were “awesome” coming to spend a special night without a long trip.

She encouraged people to look close to home when they wanted to spend a night away from it all.

“There are places you don’t have to drive for five hours to get to a pretty special place – they’re here.

  • Appleby House and Rabbit Island Huts have offered a special 10% discount on bookings through the end of November. Use the Nelson promo code when booking directly on their site


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