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CHCH Central gets its Crowne back...

Last July, the iconic and much-loved Crowne Plaza reopened its doors in Christchurch, revealing a new generation of design, style and character in the hotel’s history. We sat down to chat with Hotel Manager, Reinier Eulink, to hear a little bit more about the road to putting the Plaza back into the heart of our city.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and at what time did you found yourself in one of the world’s most unique cities.
My name is Reinier Eulink, I’m originally from Holland and I’ve been living in New Zealand for just over 9 years now (and London before that). I was living in Christchurch during the earthquakes, and after a spell in Wellington and Queenstown, I returned back to the garden city at the beginning of this year to embark on a new role as Hotel Manager at the Crowne Plaza. 

What is it about working in hotels that gets you out of bed in the morning?
No day is ever like the one before. You deal with so many different people – including celebrities. We’ve already had Emirates Team New Zealand staying at the reopened Hotel, and in the past I’ve been able to look after quite a few big names  including George Bush, Michael Jackson, Sean Connery, and the All Blacks in London. I’ve been lucky enough to work in first-class, flagship hotels – working at this level means that everyone believes in what they’re doing wants to do the best they can in their role.

(Photo: Praveen Kumar)

Why did you decide to make the move from the Crowne Plaza in Queenstown to Christchurch?
The opportunity to open a hotel was too good to pass up… I’ve always really wanted to open a hotel and to be a part of the overall process – it’s a pretty unique opportunity to be part of rebuilding a city as well. To see the final result was hugely rewarding. Plus, I just really love Christchurch – and family isn’t far from here.  

What inspiration or ideas have you brought to the Christchurch Crowne Plaza from Queenstown?
We recruit our team for attitude, and then train them for skill. You simply can’t work in a hotel without a great attitude. Just like all establishments, there’s always going to be a few slip ups here and there - but at least we can go all-out to beat everyone on service. That’s what makes all the difference in the end.

For those who knew the old Crowne Plaza, what can people expect to see that has remained the same? 
This is a tricky question… We’re part of The Crowne Plaza’s new generation, so a lot has changed and will probably continue to change. The thing we want people to understand is that we haven’t tried to be a replica of the old Crowne Plaza – we’re keeping up with the times and always exploring new innovative approaches. Things are more modern, smaller, and intimate. 

What areas of the new Plaza are you most fond of?
The library is definitely one of my favourite pockets to hang out in and I think the wine bar has come out really nicely too. The design features really connect together throughout all the different spaces, and I love how the sophisticated brass has a modern yet rustic charm to it. 
There’s really a bit of everything on offer all throughout the hotel, not only for out-of-town guests, but locals as well. We’re excited for more of Christchurch to come back to the city to experience it all for themselves.

(Photo: Sandra McCoy)

Take us through some of the special features of staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. 
We’ve made it quite hard for people to want to leave the hotel. We’ve got our own quality restaurant (Market Place), bar (Social Wine Bar) and café (Café 1851) - so good food is never far away. I recommend going for the lamb roast at Market Place. It serves four people, so you can experience that special feeling of sitting around the dinner table at home and sharing a meal. 

The technology in our rooms is also next level. Each guest has access to free internet, as well as their own smart TVs to watch any channel, as well as stream their own entertainment.. Over 6,000 magazines and newspapers are also available to download through our Pressreader App – which our guests can take away with them on the plane ride home or onto their next destination.  

Top 5 Christchurch destinations that you always recommend to guests?
ONE: The Christchurch tram – it’s the best and easiest way to explore the inner city, and you get to learn a lot of recent and old history
TWO: Christchurch Art Gallery
THREE: New Regent Street
FOUR: If you have children, Margaret Mahy Playground is a no brainer
FIVE: Madam Woo (but our restaurant is always highly recommended if you don’t want to go out). 

(Photo: Mike Molloy)

What role do you hope the Crowne Plaza will play in the future of the city?
We’re one of the first new hotels  to have opened. It feels like a big step forward for the rebuild to have another well-respected international brand back in town. It makes the community feel like their city is coming together again. We’ve seen an increase in traffic, and we’re pretty popular with the local post-show crowds coming from Isaac Theatre Royal. We’ve even heard of a few people in Christchurch who have come for a one night ‘stay-cation’ to celebrate a special occasion.  

We want our spaces to be the ‘go-to’ venues for accommodation, dining experiences and after work drinks. The city is regenerating back its little pockets of activity and Victoria Square is well on its way, and the Convention Centre is set for completion in 2020. We believe the future of Christchurch has so much potential and we’re excited to be right in the middle of it all.