SO/ Auckland, the city’s latest luxury hotel due to open next month will make the world of difference to New Zealand visitors, in more ways than one.
The International luxury lifestyle hotel brand SO/ has chosen Auckland as the best place to open its first hotel in Australasia and the South Pacific teaming up with Kiwi fashion designer WORLD to create a sophisticated inner-city hotel with stunning views and the promise of an unconventional hotel experience.
Due to open on 1 November SO/ Auckland occupies the former Reserve Bank building in Customs Street alongside the city’s thriving Britomart transport hub and entertainment precinct in downtown Auckland.
Only the seventh SO/ hotel in existence around the world, the new five-star, 130- room So/Auckland is set to become a hot hub of hospitality for visitors and locals. There are three bars including a rooftop bar with outdoor terrace and private booths enjoying uninterrupted views of Auckland Harbour. A French-inspired restaurant on the 15th floor also has panoramic views of the harbour and offers fine dining at the hands of a world-acclaimed French chef.
Hotel guests will have access to the exclusive Club Signature lounge, a heated indoor swimming pool and a SO/ signature spa and fitness centre, situated in the old bank vault. The hotel’s street front café, Javalab, advertises a mix between the “art of French patisserie with experimental coffee brewing”.
SO/ Auckland General Manager Stephen Gould said the decision to bring the SO/ brand to New Zealand now was to capitalise on the country's booming tourism economy. “It also reinforces that this stunning natural beauty is also a bustling metropolis and the must visit destination of the South Pacific,” said Gould.
Each of the seven SO/ hotels under the luxury ACCOR Hotel brand are themed by internationally famous designers including the likes of Karl Lagerfield, Viktor&Rolf and Christian Lacroix. New Zealand fashion innovator WORLD has spent three years working on elements of the design for SO/Auckland bringing their signature bold and individual character to a design which is also inherently a reflection of Auckland.
Stephen Gould says So/Auckland doesn’t have a “dull lobby” but rather a bar that looks like it might be the meeting spot for celebrities, the fashion elite and rock stars. “Staff don’t wear name-tags and you can help yourself to the minibar because everything’s free.”
“The HI SO rooftop transports you to another world and in equal parts feels like you’re no longer in Auckland while offering the best vista of Rangitoto and the city of sails. Finally, Auckland will be able to offer somewhere both locals and visitors will want to hang out, see and be seen,” he said.
The French chef hired to helm SO/ Auckland’s Harbour Society restaurant is Marc de Passorio, former owner of Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Esprit de la Violette in Aix-en-Provence. Marc sold L’Esprit de la Violette before choosing Auckland as his next culinary home.
“In 2012 I visited New Zealand for the first time and fell in love with the country. It offers so many things, from fantastic produce and wine to amazing scenery wherever you go, fresh air and generous, friendly people. I had never visited a place like this before and since then it has been my dream to return,” says Chef Marc de Passorio.
“When Stephen invited me to join SO/ Auckland as the Head Culinary Designer I felt it was fate and an offer impossible to refuse. I am excited to start this culinary adventure and feel this is the perfect opportunity to share my experience, ideas and techniques,” de Passorio said.
Additional international flair has been brought to SO/Auckland by Dutch design house Moooi responsible for the ground floor fit out. The design has been inspired by founder and renowned creative, Marcel Wanders who is famous for creating multi-layered sensory experiences.
WORLD and SO/Auckland have also created an emblem reflecting the volcanic history of Auckland, the natural beauty of New Zealand and the history of the building itself - the former Reserve Bank used to house New Zealand’s gold reserves. The emblem features in all artwork, wallpaper designs for the signature suites, cushions for the chauffeur cars and attire for the staff instead of uniforms.
Benny Castles, Designer and Director for WORLD says they developed a stylised topographical map of Auckland and over-inflated the role of volcanoes creating a “hypnotic experience where the outside world is left behind and a new experience begins.”
Stephen Gould says SO/Auckland is a rebellious lifestyle hotel where locals and travellers can stay, eat, spa and play in style. Challenging traditional hotel concepts and with a “just say SO attitude” he says guests can expect service excellence with contemporary flair.