Office building transformed after surviving Christchurch quakes

A 17-storey office block workers were trapped during the Christchurch earthquakes has been transformed into a multi-million dollar hotel.

The new Crowne Plaza opens on Saturday and is the city's biggest executive style hotel with 200 rooms.

Its luxurious inside with golden hand-rails, gas flames and bespoke lighting - a world apart from its former life as an city office block.

"It's tens of millions to get this property in the shape it's in now," says building owner Shane Lecompte.

Built in the late 1980s by Sir Bob Jones, it was more recently known as Forsyth Barr House. It's one of the few high rises to survive the Feburary 2011 earthquake.

At the time, workers were stranded on their office floors waving for help - some even abseiled down on ropes.

Christopher Littlewood was one of those lowered to safety, from his office on the corner of the sixth floor.

"I think I would be a little bit nervous to go back, reliving old memories of the horrendous earthquake when we were in the building, but I might find it reassuring too," Mr Littlewood said.

One of the companies operating in the building at the time of the quake has offered their employees a free night's accommodation in the hotel. Not one of them has taken them up on it.

But visitors are keen to stay. The hotel has already sold 11,000 room nights through to February next year.

"We sit between 80 and 85 percent of code, so the building is in a very very strong position, it's stronger than it was previously," says Mr Lecompte.

It's a new beginning for a building that survived the quakes.