The team at ibis Hamilton Tainui has bid farewell to the hotel’s time as an MIQ facility by donating items to Waikato community groups.
Beds, ironing boards, bar fridges, irons, kettles, chairs and more have found new homes as the hotel’s multimillion dollar transformation gets underway.
The ibis team donated items to community groups in Huntly and Ngaaruawaahia. A team from the Huntly West Community Hub were among those who benefitted from some of the goods, which ibis is now in the process of replacing as it undergoes a major refurbishment.
The hotel’s last isolation guests departed on March 3 and a karakia took place in April to formally recognise the end of MIQ and closure of the hotel for refurbishment.
Ibis Hamilton Tainui manager Niraj Kumar said it was heart-warming to see the equipment being distributed among members of the wider Waikato community.
“We’ve had some amazing thank you letters and emails from people who received the items and are putting them to good use.”
But it’s not just heartfelt thank-yous from recipients of the hotel’s equipment Niraj and his team have received. As the hotel has emptied out this month ahead of the refurbishment crew moving on site, the team has been looking back at the kind words and gestures from MIQ guests.
“While we had many Kiwis staying here when they returned home, we also hosted RSE (recognised seasonal employer) workers from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. While other guests enjoyed a variety of meals, our RSE workers’ favourite meals was really very simple: noodles, noodles, and more noodles.
“Our RSE workers also gifted us some paintings and sang for us when they departed.”
Niraj said his team could also be justifiably proud of their mammoth effort.
“In the 20 months during the hotel’s stint as a MIQ facility, we welcomed approximately 8000 returnees from 96 flight bubbles. Our food and beverage team prepared more than 9000 meals a month, and each staff member has been swabbed more than 100 times for Covid-19,” Niraj said.
“Our staff went above and beyond during this time and we did our best to keep them motivated and feeling appreciated.”
There were regular ‘thank you’ lunches for staff and other special occasion celebrations, awards for employee of the month, waka activities on the Waikato River, mental health and wellbeing workshops, and staff also participated with returnees in online Zumba and raranga (weaving) classes.
The hotel was recognised by the Waikato District Health Board with a Waiora Matariki Award last year for their innovative service and the way in which the team delivered the vision of the ‘Waikato way’.
And now that same team is looking forward to helping breathe new life back into ibis Hamilton Tainui.
“Our major refurbishment is about to get underway, and we can’t wait to reopen later this year,” Niraj said.
Ibis Hamilton Tainui owner Tainui Group Holding is investing $7-$8million into refurbishing the 126-room hotel.
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