We recently had the opportunity to break bread with the fabulous Joan Gerritse, Project Manager, Distinction Hotels New Zealand. Distinction Hotels have been GuestCentrix clients for many years. The Distinction Hotels group own and manage ten superior 4 to 4.5 star properties under the Distinction Hotels brand and two 3 star properties under the Discovery Hotels brand in both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. These locations include Whangarei (2 properties), Hamilton, Rotorua, Ruapehu, Palmerston North, Wellington, Fox Glacier, Lake Wanaka, Te Anau (2 properties) and a new luxury property in Dunedin.
CMS: Kia Ora Joan! Joan it was great to see you recently in Dunedin. Tell us about your background and what led you from the windmills of Holland to the land of the great white cloud?
Joan: In 1992 I emigrated to NZ after spending 2 fantastic holidays over here and getting to know my family members in the Southern Hemisphere: 4 of my mother’s brothers emigrated from The Netherlands to New Zealand, 2 of them left by boat in the 50’s and 2 in the 70’s, they raised families here. I worked for PDL Industries in Christchurch, followed by 8,5 years with Scenic Hotels, 2 years CMS Hospitality, 8 years as a General Manager of Portside Hotel in Gisborne, and now Distinction Hotels for almost 3 years. I am proud to be part of a progressive NZ Owned and Operated company.
CMS: The Distinction brand is synonymous with quality , and is a significant brand name in New Zealand. Can you tell us a little bit more about the company and your different brands within the group?
Joan: Distinction Hotels is 100% New Zealand owned and operated and in the past 3 years its significant growth has seen it become one of New Zealand’s fastest growing hotel chains. Our group own and manage ten superior 4 to 5 star properties under the Distinction Hotels brand in both the North and South Island’s of New Zealand. These locations include Whangarei, Hamilton, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Wellington, Fox Glacier, Lake Wanaka, 2 hotel properties in Te Anau, a new luxury property in Dunedin and another in Christchurch set to open in late 2017. In 2011 we launched the Discovery Hotels brand. Discovery Hotels offer a range of great value 3 star accommodation options to suit all travellers combined with true outstanding ‘Kiwi’ hospitality. Discovery Hotels are located in the North Island’s Whangarei and Ruapehu. With their own individual style and surroundings all twelve NZ hotels offer both the business and leisure traveller a choice of quality New Zealand accommodation and conference facilities. Exceptional service, superb facilities and an emphasis on true kiwi hospitality set our NZ Hotels apart from our competitors.
CMS: Joan, Distinction have been a GuestCentrix client for some while now. What is it about the GuestCentrix software solution that you value the most?
Joan: The Property Management System is so easy to use it takes me merely days to train Staff and I watched experienced Managers use it within hours after logging on for the first time, the product gives our company the reporting tools it needs to run a business effectively, and with the use of the GuestCentrix Web Interface Manager program there is a considerable time & cost saving as the internet bookings drop straight into the PMS. The Point Of Sale and Conference & Banqueting programs are equally as easy to use and are interfaced with the Property Management System.
CMS: There is so much to do and see in beautiful New Zealand .For first time visitors , what sort of itinerary would you recommend for first time visitors?
Joan: Distinction Hotels has properties located from the top of the country to the far south, my suggestion would be to book accommodation at all Distinction Hotels and travel from one to the other, staying a couple of days at each of them to enjoy the magnificent areas they are located in and the NZ hospitality the Distinction Hotels is known for. Next year we will have our latest addition to the Hotel Group opening in Central City Christchurch so guests can hop on a plane in Wellington after staying at our Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel and continue their travels on the South Island.
CMS: A lot of VIPs choose Distinction Hotels when it comes to choosing where to stay. What are the chances of bumping into an All Black or a Hobbit along the way somewhere along the way?
Joan: Well, with a population of only 4.5 million it is true that NZ is small and you never know your luck. Of course it is not just a celebrity that you may encounter along the way. Our hotel staff are continually astounded at how many guests travel half way round the world on a trip of a lifetime and end up bumping into somebody they went to school with or somebody who knows their aunty. I guess the 7 degrees of separation rule is alive and well, although sometimes it feels more like 2 degrees in NZ! All of our guests can be assured of receiving the same exceptional level of service and privacy whether they are a celebrity, businessperson, visitor to NZ or a Hobbit!
CMS: Thanks Joan, that was choice.
To make your bookings or reservations at any Distinction Hotels property, whether it is business or pleasure, head on over to their website for their best online deals. Their newest property in the old Post Office in Dunedin is quite simply stunning!