By Hayley Gastmeier
With scaffolding up and renovations underway, Featherston’s Royal Hotel is being brought back to life.
Rob Allen and Janelle Harrington, who purchased the historic building last year, anticipate it will be reopened early 2017.
“The fact that there has been so much public interest and support locally has been very heartening,” Mr Allen said of the project.
Just now the hotel is undergoing a paint job, with a colour scheme that will be sympathetic to both its heritage, and that of the town.
“Internally it’s having a significant fit out, which is well underway. Ornate Victorian plasterwork is almost completed,” Mr Allen said.
“We are wanting it to be an exciting and interesting interior… and a warm and welcoming place.”
He said it would be sophisticated, with a “quirky side”.
“We want it to reflect Victorian themes, the history of the town with rail and military, and we want to accommodate cycling references.”
All of that could be wrapped up in the term steam-punk, Mr Allen said.
He said although the project had taken longer than anticipated, the end product would be worth the wait.
The couple have secured a chef, a New Zealand ex-pat who has been living in London for the last 15 years running their own restaurant.
Mr Allen said the food and drinks served at the hotel would be based on the “farm to plate” movement, and showcase the quality products Wairarapa had to offer.
The couple also own successful Kahutara-based wedding venue, Lacewood at Tuhitarata Estate.
With 11 guest rooms, the Royal Hotel will offer additional accommodation to wedding guests, and be available for special functions in its own right.
The Royal Hotel was first built in 1868 during the foundation of the settlement.
The large two-storey building was extensively damaged by fire a few years later and was rebuilt in 1893.