Daniel Fleming’s enthusiasm is palpable.
There’s pride for the world-class accommodation, hospitality, retail and arts precinct that has been created at the western edge of New Plymouth’s CBD, and excitement for the growth and development that continues to take place.
Daniel is the general manager and co-owner of the King and Queen Hotel Suites, luxury boutique accommodation that lies at the centre of the city’s upmarket West End Precinct – a vibrant community of 20 complementary businesses all within a single city block.
The precinct also includes the stunning, award-winning Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, and the TSB Showplace events centre.
“The West End Precinct has been powerful at changing people’s perceptions of Taranaki,” says Daniel, who is also chairperson of the West End Precinct business collective.
“Taranaki has always been known for its beautiful mountain, beaches and gardens, but what we’ve got now is a really cool culture and arts precinct."
“Visitors say they didn’t know there was a hotel of such calibre in Taranaki, such great restaurants and bars, and quality retail businesses. They are blown away by the quality we have in a regional town – quality they might only expect overseas or in Queenstown and Auckland.”
It’s a far cry from just a few short years ago when the White Hart Hotel, the striking 1880s Victorian-style building that has been beautifully restored, modernised and colonised by many of the West End Precinct businesses, sat empty and run-down, and the area around it largely forgotten.
“Through a good mix of private and public investment the area has been completely transformed,” says Daniel.
“It was a case of a bunch of great people having a vision and wanting to make New Plymouth and Taranaki the best it can be.”
The King and Queen Hotel Suites, and its cutting edge design, opened in 2013 with 17 rooms and has grown to 34 rooms as Taranaki has become a tourist destination. More development is under way, with plans for more hotel rooms, luxury apartments to sell, and an extended hospitality and retail offering.
“We see the area continuing to be important for Taranaki and we want to keep the momentum going,” Daniel says.
“To have the perfect melting pot in the CBD, you need three things – visitors, permanent residents, and locals all eating, buying and socialising. In the coming years the West End Precinct will double in size, which is pretty exciting and provides lots of opportunity.”
Daniel says the strength of the Taranaki business community is collaboration.
“There’s a cool feeling of positivity, resilience and collaboration. We have a heart to the city and there’s always festivals, shows, exhibitions and events happening."
“All the restaurants, bars and eateries in the West End Precinct are really focused on buying from and supporting local suppliers, and showcasing their fantastic ingredients. And there’s a desire to be sustainable and be here for the long term,” he says.