A worldwide pandemic that has essentially put international travel on hold for the foreseeable future might not seem like the best time to open a multi-million dollar hotel.
But the team at Auckland's new Park Hyatt don't see it that way.
Most of us are familiar with the Hyatt brand name, but it shouldn't be understated that there are less than 50 Park Hyatts in the world. So the arrival of the brand in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter puts Aotearoa's biggest city amongst the likes of New York, Washington DC and Chicago, which are all surprisingly home to just one Park Hyatt each.
In everything related to its food, service and style, the Park Hyatt Auckland has one goal in mind: to be the best hotel in the country. For now, having it open to just us Kiwis is absolutely fine with them.
While the brand itself is international, the new Auckland hotel has been designed to reflect our country's culture and history.
A team made up of Ali Reda from ar+d in Singapore and the local designers at Bossley Architects created a double exterior that acts as a Māori cloak for the hotel and its guests.
Recently, I spent a night in one of the hotel's 195 rooms, which range in size from 47sqm to 245sqm in the Presidential Suite.
The room I stayed in gave views of both the viaduct and downtown Auckland.
It was beautiful - but does come at a cost. Nights there start at around $500 per night when not on special.
Everything in it is controlled by touch panels, from the lights to the large exterior shutter-like foils that can be closed to add a layer of privacy to the large deck area, without blocking the view for hotel guests.
One thing I'd highly recommend is to dim or turn off all the lights, get into the massive bath and open the shutters to soak while gazing at the city lights and the harbour. A glass of wine and some relaxing music is optional.
The luxurious bed, long couches and large shower and bath make for a perfect weekend break location. But the relaxing vibe isn't limited to the bedroom, as the hotel has a spa which includes a 25m infinity pool, Himalayan salt sauna, aromatherapy steam room and a hydrotherapy area.
All of the hotel's bars, restaurants and cafes are open to the public, which is ideal given the location. Whether it's drinks before a show at the nearby ASB Theatre or a morning breakfast or brunch, Park Hyatt's location is one of its biggest advantages.
The main restaurant is called Onemata, which means 'rich fertile soil', and it's from this soil that the chef and his staff aim to get seasonal and sustainably-sourced ingredients for the menu.
Before or after dinner you can pop into The Captain's Bar, which is set-up in the style of a whiskey bar.
I personally found this location quite awkward. It's a very masculine space and the bar staff seemed determined to talk you into having a whiskey, even if you'd asked for something else.
I could tell that the hotel's staff knew the level of service that is expected of them when working at such a prestigious global hotel brand, but the enthusiasm and tendency to stick to a script came at the cost of personality and interaction, which to me are two strong ingredients in a good bar staff cocktail.
But, the place is still very new and it's great to see such investment in our tourism industry and its jobs.
For the morning after the night before, behind the giant red door that is a remnant of the old Team New Zealand base is The Pantry. It's a large, street-facing cafe that due to its size can work as an ideal spot for a coffee catch-up, a work meeting or lunch, or just a dine and dash coffee. I'd highly recommend a breakfast here during your stay at the hotel, or even just to pop in for brunch.
So, while our borders are closed and the brand new Park Hyatt is exclusively for the use of us Kiwis, my advice is to get in there and experience high-end local accommodation before international travel resumes.
When that happens, getting a room won't be anywhere near as easy.
Newshub Travel stayed as an invited guest at the Park Hyatt Auckland.