Queenstown facing butler shortage ahead of foreign tourist return

Queenstown's latest luxury hotel is facing an unusual staffing quandary as it prepares to welcome Australian tourists - it can't find any trained butlers.

The Carlin Hotel opened last week.

It has been a challenging few years which included constant price increases for building supplies and its chief executive, Kevin Carlin, becoming an owner-builder to ensure it would be built in time.

His latest challenge was to find another 20 staff.

"We have our department managers all onboard, but again, bartenders, food servers, housekeepers, butlers.

"It's really hard to find a butler in this country. We don't have a butler school like they do in China or America or in Europe."

He has been working to find a solution that didn't involve looking overseas.

"Overseas employees are very hard to get due to the visas process. Even if we found a great candidate overseas, it could take two or three months for them to qualify to relocate to New Zealand so we have to look within New Zealand," Carlin said.

"We've found that concierges in hotels can be trained up to become butlers and even a good waiter or sommelier of wine can be trained to have abroad butler skill."

With Australians expected back in less than a week, he was pleased to open a bit earlier to ensure their staff and service was ready.

"We've wanted a soft opening and only 50 percent occupancy at first to get the bugs out of the staff and out of the building so the borders being closed at this time hasn't been too inconvenient, and it seems that they could be reopening just in time to provide more than 50 percent occupancy."

So far, all of their available suites have been sold out on their weekends but weekdays have been very quiet, he said.

He wasn't the only one keen to see the return of tourists.

"I think a lot of the business operators in Queenstown are cautiously optimistic.

"We're glad to see the borders reopening without a doubt.

"It's just how fast people climb on to an aircraft and want to travel again."