The Residence Fitzroy

Words by Tanya Trower

The Residence Fitzroy — supporting Taranaki tourism.

For most people, the announcement of lockdown during the final stages of developing an apartment accommodation complex would have dealt a real blow — but not for Chris and Kelly Hamblyn. The couple weren’t deterred by predictions of a dire future for New Zealand’s tourism trade as they completed final preparations to open for business.

“We were really lucky to be on track with the build — it was all closed in, and we were doing interior fit-outs when lockdown was announced. At least we didn’t have to cancel any bookings!” says Chris.

Because the couple were so immersed in getting the build complete, they weren’t considering ramifications much when COVID hit.

“Because everything was so uncertain we decided not to think too far ahead, or become consumed with all the possibilities,” says Kelly.

Their faith and paced approach paid off. Since opening in September they’ve already experienced periods of full occupancy, received repeat business, are fully booked over Christmas and New Years, and just about full for January.

“Since opening the bookings have come thick and fast. I think our first couple of months were almost busier because of Lockdown — people were bursting out from cabin fever and wanting a new scene.

“I feel like the next few months are going to be good too. New Zealanders have really supported local tourism — we’re noticing that here in Taranaki. We had full-occupancy during the Garden Festival, with guests from as far afield as Christchurch!” says Kelly.

The Residence Fitzroy was birthed after selling their chicken farm in Lepperton. Kelly and Chris considered buying a motel but couldn’t find the right proposition. Then Kelly discovered the Fitzroy site — familiar to most as the Amber and Black Car Sales yard. It was on the market, and they both thought it would be the perfect location for accommodation. While you can rent a house through Airbnb, or stay at a local motel, the couple wanted to offer a unique luxury apartment-style experience.

Due to the small size of the site they had a feasibility study done to see what would work. It was a great position in terms of the village and beach access, and although there was high traffic flow, location potential for the apartments meant impacts could be minimised.

“It all came down to utilising the space as creatively and economically as possible,” says Chris.

After facing some major challenges to get the project off the ground their vision started to take shape when they discovered a winning dynamic with Designa Concepts and Cameron Wilson Builders.

“We wanted an architecturally stylish result that fitted with the Fitzroy Village landscape, while working within our budget. Steve from Designa Concepts achieved this really well — the building’s aluminium louvre façade was his inspiration, and he was great at finding ways to make our ideas work,” says Chris.

Cameron Wilson Builders completed the build.

“Cam and his team went above and beyond — Cam was great at coming up with suggestions on the best and most cost-effective ways to achieve our outcomes. They were awesome!

“We were pleased with the results of all trades involved — everyone was really pleasant to have around, and the vibe on site made it fun to be here,” says Kelly.

Despite the central location, sound-proofing means each apartment has its’ privacy.

“There’s a double framed wall in between each unit. We wanted to keep it as simple as possible so we maintained a residential approach rather than going for concrete block walls,” says Chris.

For the interiors the couple decided on plush, modern décor and styling for an inviting and relaxing atmosphere. Twelve months of online research and sourcing of product informed their approach. While each apartment is unique, they all share a colour palette of earthy-inspired tones, and a minimalist approach to style. Bathrooms are stylish and relatively spacious, featuring marble finishing.

When you stay at The Residence Fitzroy you have a choice of apartments ranging from studio, to one, two, and three-bedrooms, with some across two levels. Apart from the studio, all have full kitchens, washer, dryer and separate bedrooms for a modern home-style experience.

Their contactless check-in/ check-out approach was decided as part of their business model. They manage the facility and cleaners daily from an onsite office, and offer 24/7 guest assistance via a toll-free number.

“Initially we wanted to streamline the business, but with COVID our approach has proved timely,” says Kelly.

Local interiors retailer ‘Home, Love and Mette K’ operate a retail space at the village end of the apartment building.

“We love our association with the store — its’ style blends with our offering, and their takeaway coffees are perfect for our guests,” says Kelly.

“The project’s been a real journey. We’re proud to now be a contributing part of the Fitzroy community, and to be doing our bit to support Taranaki tourism.”

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