Waiwera Thermal Resort and Spa has closed and its future is uncertain after the land owners stepped in and changed the locks last week.
There has been a thermal spa in Waiwera for 170 years.
Auckland company Waiwera Properties leased the site to the Waiwera Group (sole director Russian billionaire Mikhail Khimich) in 2010, and since then Waiwera Group has owned and run the resort and bottling plant businesses.
Last week Waiwera Properties cancelled the lease, citing ongoing non-payment of rent.
The resort has been closed since February for refurbishment and was expected to reopen soon. All staff were also laid off in February. Some refurbishment has been completed and some contractors say they are owed large sums of money.
In a statement, Waiwera Properties says that a history of defaults on rent culminated in the lease being cancelled, and the locks changed on the doors of the thermal resort.
“It’s a pity that it has come to this,” Mr Vertue says. “We have reluctantly re-entered the premises due to continual tenant default and consider this option a last resort. We don’t welcome making this move, but we have no other option. Waiwera Thermal Resort has been enjoyed by many families over the years, it is a popular destination for locals and visitors to our country. We would far rather see it thriving and enjoyed by all.”
Mr Vertue says the company needs to let the dust settle before making any decisions on the future of the site. He says it would make sense to continue with a thermal spa in some form, given the qualities of the hot water, and there are no plans for residential development.
Attempts to contact Waiwera Group were unsuccessful.