Thursday, 26 July 2012

Motel Pays for Guests' Red Zone Tours!

*** Press Release ***

Motel Pays for Guests' Red Zone Tours

$10 per guest, up to 2 guests per room for direct bookings on Fri., Sat. or Sun. nights until end of August 2012. (subject to terms & conditions)

CentrePoint on Colombo Motel has been inextricably connected to the Red Zone since 22 Feb. 2011. Inside the cordon for 18 days and now just one block from the barrier, their finger is on the pulse of changes in the central city area and they continually update information of what is available for guests so that they may take home as positive an image of Christchurch as possible.

Owner Jeff Peters says, “We present the good the bad and the ugly to visitors to the Garden City in the hope that they take home a full understanding of what has happened here. Many of our guests have left comments on Trip Advisor recognising the value of the information we have provided.”

But being so close to the Red Zone has also made the continued operation of the motel an everyday challenge and Jeff says they warmly welcome every business that returns to the central city area and celebrate every time the cordon is rolled back or another road opens.

The combination of these two realities spawned the Red Zone Tour Special which Jeff hopes will result in a positive outcome for both Christchurch and the motel. Jeff says that while Christchurch is busy on week days, there is plenty of accommodation available over the weekends and hopes to provide some evenness with this special plan.

Last Sunday, Jeff and his partner Naomi took the Red Zone Bus Tour so they could accurately promote it to their guests. They even blogged about it.

What’s more, two guests have already taken up the offer and they mentioned it in their Trip Advisor review -

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Beyond the Cordon - Red Zone Bus Tour

 (Fanciest bus in town for the Red Zone Tour!)

Red Zone Tours have started so we booked online and headed along to see just what the fuss was about – is it worth paying $15 per person to see our own city.

Our tour started just as the fog that had hidden the battered city centre since morning started to lift.  While chilly on the bus till the end, the low cloud cover diffused the direct sunlight allowing a panoramic view on all sides of the bus uninterrupted by any dazzling sunlight.

(Back of the bus is an ad for the tour!)
We arrived at the advised 10 minutes before departure only to find that all the higher seats at the back of the bus had already been taken.  We sat in the middle belly section of the bus but still found the view to be fine. The bus was obviously the Red Bus Company’s newest addition - swank but the yellow swoosh window coverings at the front and back of the bus did obscure the view outside a bit.

(Traveling down Salisbury St. (seen from the Motel)) 

There was the obligatory safety talk about remaining seated and to follow the instructions of the staff in case an emergency evacuation was necessary.  After going on the first Red Zone bus tour several months ago I knew they were realistic warnings as the bus was indeed to pass right beside many buildings that are on the demolition list.

 (Passing very close to protective containers...)

The commentary was a live presentation by a representative of the Canterbury Museum which added credence to the narrative.  How participants appreciate the information will depend on just who they were.  Myself, living just 1 block from the Red Zone barrier, and having seen a lot since the quakes really wanted more.  More stories, more statistics, more anything….more than what I already knew.  But for someone from the outer suburbs who had avoided the Central City area since the quakes or even a traveler from outside of Christchurch or even from overseas may have found the scenes from the bus windows and the commentary an absolutely mind boggling gooble of over information that left them numb at the end of the 40 minutes.

 (Octagon Live)

There was a graphic presentation using past & present photos etc. playing on the screen at the front of the bus but the screen was a bit too small even from ½ way down the bus.  But, I would also say that what with concentrating on the commentary and looking out the window I did not find myself looking at the screen too much so maybe it is just right the way it is.

 (Looking west from Cathedral Square)

Our tour was 40 minutes long and of that we would have spent only about ½ in the actual Red Zone.  But this did not subtract from the Tour and if anything gave an overview as areas of interest outside of the Red Zone were also introduced during the tour.   We even drove right past the Motel down Salisbury St. and photographed the next tour for effect!

(Red Zone bus passes a top quality Motel) 
Some have dismissed these tours because most of the Red Zone can now be seen from outside the fence due to the various cordon reductions but taking the bus tour does allow close up and personal glimpses of parts of central Christchurch no-one without a Red Zone pass has seen with their own eyes for a very long time.  It also allows a close up view of places we walked of right pre 22 Feb.

 (View from the bus window.)

For the visitor from outside of Christchurch or outside of New Zealand, it gives them a chance to see what happened and is still happening in our everyday lives.  It helps them learn about Christchurch now and we need these people to take our story, Christchurch’s story back home with them so that the world can develop an understanding of what has happened to our beautiful city.

 (Christ Church Cathedral - the pigeons love it!)

After the tour, we visited the Earthquake Exhibit in the Canterbury Museum which we thoroughly recommend to all visitors to Christchurch – especially those that choose to take the Red Zone Bus Tour.


As mentioned in our previous blogs, we will be offering our Red Zone Bus Tour Special.

At CentrePoint on Colombo Motel, we will pay up to $10 each for up to 2 persons per room for direct reservation guests who stay with us on Fri, Sat or Sun nights until the end of August 2012 and take the Red Zone Bus Tour – and you get to stay just 1 block from the edge of the Red Zone northern boundary. *Subject to terms & conditions.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Christchurch CBD Red Zone Bus Tour

 (A Red Bus that may tour the Red Zone in the background)

It’s been a while but the bus company which will, if they choose to, have the right to run Red Zone Bus Tours has been decided as.....yes you guessed it..... Red Bus Company. 

This round of Red Zone Bus Tours were announced 1 April and a competitive tender process has now taken place.  It’s only taken 2 months and in that time it could be argued that much of what could have been seen back then is no longer there now.

So, will we get Red Bus Red Zone Bus Tours? Are we going to see a yet another new acronym - RBRZBT - in Christchurch?  Approved by CERA and run by Red Bus around an area once overseen by CCC that CCDU is now recreating.  If they do take place, participants will need a dictionary…..

It'll be interesting to see if Red Bus actually do take up their option because Durham St. and Gloucester St. are opening this Friday so most people will be able to do their own tour and therefore it may be hard to get them to part with cash for such a tour.

While this was all a good idea back when it was first thought up my guess is that the Red Zone is just too small with too many accessible nooks & crannies now to be sellable. The other thing is that apart from bare land there just aint that much to see any more.

But good on Red Bus for putting their hand up to do the tours, it just may well be that time was not on their side.  If they do run Red Bus Red Zone Tours then our original offer to pay for them (conditions apply) does of course stand!
So, if you get the chance, stay with us and get a Free Red Bus Red Zone Bus Tour – sorry but yes another acronym to remember.   

How the buildings are disappearing faster than Red Bus Red Zone Bus Tours can be organized...
(12 May 2012)

 (11 June 2012)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

42 Things To Do in Christchurch

We love working away here in the motel office while listening to MIKE YARDLEY’s CANTERBURY MORNING Monday  to Thursday.  Its fast paced, honest and Mike asks the hard questions when they need asking!

One of today’s topics was “Essential Christchurch. What are the 30 great things to see and do in Christchurch?”  Lots of people rang in and talked mainly about local attractions but we thought there must be some “only now in Christchurch things” and came up with the quintessential list of 42 things everyone should do while here. Actually we came up with 41 things to do and Jeff's Aunty - a Residential Red Zoner - proposed the 42nd. thing to do which sits at 41 on the list.
Every visitor should do all these things……. which CAN be done!

  • Visit the site of the Cardboard Cathedral.
  • Stand in front of Museum and pray it opens soon.
  • Walk round the Red Zone.
  • Support a business within 1 block of the Red Zone.
  • Visit Re:Start Container Mall.
  • Use the 2 hr. free City Council car park.
  • Watch a demolition!
  • Eat in a container!
  • Drink a coffee or beer in a Container!
  • Pee in a container.
  • Shop in a container.
  • Listen to NewstalkZB morning show with Mike Yardley.
  • Take a picture of a road cone.
  • Decorate a road cone.
  • Walk through the Gardens.
  • Get a picture of the biggest truck with “DEMOLITION” written on the side.
  • Vote to save the Cathedral.
  • Take a picture in front of the large RWC Cup in Hagley Park.
  • Go Punting.
  • Feel an earthquake.
  • Feed the ducks, and eels in the Gardens.
  • Get great NZ cheese at Canterbury Cheesemongers.
  • Buy an earthquake momento – postcard of demoed building, aftershock socks or T-shirt etc.
  • Eat at a rebuilt restaurant.
  • See the White Lights of Hope at night.
  • Take a bus tour and see the city.
  • Talk to a local about their earthquake experience.
  • Try and work out who is the boss in Christchurch; Bob, Gerry Warwick or Roger.
  • Go to a café in the day and a gay nightclub at night in the same building.
  • Take a picture in front of the HSBC building – the real seat of power in Christchurch.
  • Look down Colombo St from Peterborough St to the remains of Cathedral Spire.
  • Look down Worchester St from the river to see the remains of the Cathedral.
  • Turn your GPS off & don’t eat while driving to safely navigate the Red Zone and road closures.
  • Visit & experience a Gap Filler project.
  • Say Hi to the Town Crier.
  • Take 5 and enjoy and support a busker.
  • Drive or bus out to Sumner.
  • Drive or Bus out to Lyttleton
  • Go to Deans Bush & feel the history.
  • Visit a local market.
  • Take time to walk through some of the residential red zone to gain an understanding of why people have to move.
  • Stay in a Motel.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Red Zone Bus Tours – bring them on

Yesterday we blogged about how we intend to offer Free Red Zone Bus Tours to our guests (see the finer details here).

Today we emailed the details to NewstalkZB’s Mike Yardley and he covered what we are doing in a 2 minute special on air!! He also said he would keep an eye on what we were doing so we look forward to reporting what actually happens.

You can listen to the sound bite here;

Jeff then, by chance followed up by ringing into the Flash Reaction Poll and having a quick chat to Mike live on air about the proposal as well!

Later in the afternoon Jeff did an over the phone interview which (maybe) will be used in radio news etc. tomorrow….tune in people, tune in!

For us, this is a bit of PR we cannot buy for love nor money but we now have to deliver on the promise and know Mike will be watching us!

But not only that, this is a continuation of our battle to get the word out that the city centre is still here!!  We do our bit when we can and we are looking forward to this being a chance to once again promote the Christchurch City Centre and all the great things it still does have and we welcome the challenge.

We are also proud that our social media efforts have been transcribed into real, on air time on mainstream media….not bad for a 12 room motel.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Free Red Zone Bus Tours* for our weekend guests!

CERA has announced a new round of Red Zone bus tours.  Bus companies have been asked to submit tenders and the tours may be operating as soon as May.  We will make them free for weekend guests!

We welcome this news and look forward to the start date being announced.  We hope it will be a boost to the local economy as the peak season tourist dollar dwindles and we enter the quieter months of the year.
An online poll in The Press overwhelmingly says locals don't want to pay to see their city centre but such negativity is probably more aimed at Cera’s control of the area people once freely walked.  This time, people will be able to access this cordoned area and paying for the costs involved is reasonable.  People will have a choice whether to take the tours or not after all. 

We believe the tour will appeal to visitors to Christchurch who want to find out about just what happened and why the barriers are still up so long after the main event.  One recent visitor to Christchurch commented on our Facebook page “As a tourist there this time last year, I would have happily paid to A) get a sense of what was going on and B) put some money in the coffers for the rebuild (which was part of our reason for not cancelling our trip in Apr/May 2011!) as we wanted to support the local economy in any way we could!”  and we are sure other visitors to Christchurch will feel the same.
At the estimated $10 per person this could be a great 1/2 day activity for visitors when combined with a visit to the museum to see the earthquake exhibit there.  We’re sure a creative operator could quickly put together an inventive tour including hand outs and possibly even video explanations.  We're obviously stuck with this Red Zone cordon for quite a few months to come so if this idea can entice people to Christchurch as we enter the quieter months of the tourist year it may well help some people pay some bills.  If that's the case it gets a "like" from us!

(Convention Centre, looking through from Peterborough Street to the Town Hall)
Bus tours, like last year will probably run on weekends, when deconstruction work is at a minimum and demand is there and this will tie in well with the weekend glut of accommodation which is already clearly visible.

At CentrePoint on Colombo Motel, we will pay up to $10 each for up to 2 persons per room for direct reservations guests who stay with us on Fri, Sat or Sun nights until the end of August and take the Red Zone Bus Tour – YES! it’s free when you stay with us and you get to stay just 1 block from the edge of the Red Zone northern boundary. *Subject to terms & conditions.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

It’s been a good day!

Today has been a busy day on the Motel front with a wide range of good news rolling in…..

Lonely Planet has released its new, post-quake Christchurch & Canterbury chapter from the upcoming Lonely Planet New Zealand guide,

We are there on Page 12 between the Jailhouse and The George.  Look at that! 3 top accommodation providers from different genres all together - ranging from $30 to $886!! Jailhouse – Top Backpacker, CentrePoint on Colombo – Top Motel, The George – Top Hotel!  Will also mention Orari B&B – Top B&B just to our left!! 
We congratulate Lonely Planet on producing a comprehensive guide to post quake Christchurch that can easily be said to be the best guide to our new city at time of printing!!  Most noticeable is that they have shown the central city area is alive and well and very much a place to visit!!
We are proud to be recognised in this way by one of the world’s top travel magazines and look forward to welcoming LP users to Christchurch!

A recent traveller, (Trip Advisor name; OmNomNomDePlume) who found us on twitter and drove in with ½ the South Island on his car reviewed us on Trip Advisor in probably one of the longest reviews we’ve ever had!!  It kinda summed up a lot of what we do and recognised the effort we put into helping the travelling public get the most out of their visit to Christchurch.  Made us laugh and smile! Have a read….here

Received the latest update for our all new motel website that we are working on.  Starting to come on nicely and that gave us an extra little buzz!!  Sorry but it’s all under wraps till we can get it together……..stay tuned.
Gotta live the good times and we did indeed today!!

Friday, 20 January 2012

CentrePoint on Colombo wins again!

 (Making room for another one!!)
We blogged about our first Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award last year and we’re proud to say we’ve done it again this year in the awards announced today! 

Only this time instead of just 1 section we’ve won in 2.  CentrePoint on Colombo Motel is in the Top 10 Hotels for Best Value (it’s actually called “bargain” but that doesn’t fit well grammatically so we used the English translation of the Japanese language page phrase!) and an award winner in the Best Service in South Pacific Category by TripAdvisor in its 2012 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

We’re pretty happy but before we give ourselves a well deserved pat on the back, we’ll say thanks to all those guests who took the time to review us on Trip Advisor!  

Best Service 2 years in a row is great but we do find this year’s addition of the “bargain” title an interesting one because it’s the section we most often get marked down in guest reviews.  We often get told we are expensive... so does this mean can we raise our rates?!

It’s interesting to see that this year, 4 Christchurch Motels have made it into the top 25 for Best Service and 3 in the Bargain category – meaning that despite the shakes Christchurch is a place where you’ll get Great Service at a Good Price.

After recently being lauded by the Lonely Planet as one of the most exciting cities in New Zealand, Christchurch has now been given accolades from visitors over the last year and we hope that our RTO – Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism – uses this piece of good news to encourage more people to visit the city.

As for us, well it might just be a nice bottle of wine with dinner this evening!