Balmoral Motel owners Kenji and Rachel Usui are one of many Nelson motel owners who are selling up. Photo: Andrew Board.

Motel owners cash in on tourist spike


Motel owners in Nelson are cashing in on a stellar summer tourist season and selling up to outside investors.

More than a dozen motels are either on the market or have been recently sold. The latest to be sold include Palazzo, Harbourside, Carmel Court, Greens, Laughing Kiwi and Riverlodge.

The owner of another luxury motel that has recently been sold told Nelson Weekly that it is a great time to sell. He didn’t want to be named because he has yet to inform staff that the sale has been completed, but says Nelson “has that confidence”.

“There is an under supply of housing stock, strong tourism sector and thanks to the likes of Jetstar, domestic tourists are starting to find us,” he says. “Motels in Nelson would have had one of their busiest seasons.”

Owner of Palazzo Motor Lodge on Rutherford St, Kiara Barnett, says she sold the motel last month.

“Tourism as a whole has got better, and it’s a good industry to have a business in – I can only see it going up and up. Last year was a great for tourism across the whole country and Nelson certainly got a nice big slice of the pie. I’ve found that overseas visitors find Nelson very friendly and safe.”

The other owner says he decided to put his motel on the market nine months ago but only had serious interest in the past two months. “After the summer we had investors could see it was a great investment and started getting serious.”

He says bookings are already strong for next summer and he decided to sell while the market was strong.

“People are buying themselves an income. Nelson is looking good for the long term, the park [Abel Tasman] is always a draw but the cycle trail, wineries, craft beers… it all spurs it on. Our tourists are well educated and want good quality accommodation which is a perfect for Nelson because they’re of high value to the area.”

Rachel and Kenji Usui have owned the Balmoral Motel in Tahunanui for six years. They say they put their motel on the market 11 months ago for personal reasons and have had more interest in the past few months than at any time earlier. “The industry is in an excellent position so we are confident of a sale.”

Bayleys real estate agent Gill Ireland has sold four motels in the past month. She says high quality motels are being snapped up.

“Bayleys is receiving national inquiries with strong interest from Auckland and Christchurch and international inquiries from Europe, US and Asia on a regular basis which we expect to continue.

“Demand is currently exceeding supply. Nelson is a desirable life style destination and this industry provides a business and a home for people looking to move into this region.”

– In our original article that printed in Nelson Weekly, we mistakenly included Cedar Grove in a list of motels in Nelson that has been sold. It hasn’t and we apologise for the error.