Former Herne Bay convent and now a world best hotel

5:00 AM Saturday July 25, 2015 Colin Taylor

Two character buildings occupy the 6 Tweed St property at Herne Bay.

A landmark Herne Bay property is for sale that was built as the home of Auckland’s first mayor, then served as a convent for the Little Sisters of the Poor and conversely, has been operated more recently as Mollies luxury boutique hotel, a “hideaway retreat” patronised by visiting celebrities.   

The 2905 sq m freehold property at 6 Tweed St, encompasses one of the largest single land holdings in Herne Bay which is New Zealand’s most expensive residential suburb. Two dwellings occupy the site, the largest of which accommodates Mollies.

The property is featured in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio and is being marketed by Alan Haydock and Damien Bullick of Bayleys Auckland who are selling it by tender closing on September 3 unless it sells earlier by negotiation.

Haydock says the property can be purchased either with a long term lease in place over the larger building to the current proven operator of the Mollies business which generates annual rental income of $250,000 plus GST, or it could be acquired with vacant possession.

“This is one of Auckland’s most prestigious properties and the substantial land holding presents many options and opportunities for the buyer,” Haydock says. “These include further development, subdivision, converting one or both buildings to residential use or continuing to operate it is as a luxury accommodation complex.”

The two residences are joined by a connecting hallway but could easily be subdivided, he says. The larger residence has a total floor area of 1360 sq m plus numerous balconies and decks.

The smaller dwelling is a traditional square front villa with a floor area of 239 sq m which has been used as the owner’s residence.. Vehicle access to the complex extends along the eastern boundary via a brick cobblestone paved driveway with parking areas at the rear of the main building.

6 Tweed St, Herne Bay - penthouse bedroom & view.jpg

The penthouse bedroom at Mollies hotel in Herne Bay. 

Mollie’s comprises 13 luxury suites, each with its own ensuite and living area, bespoke furnishings and harbour, garden or city skyline views. Tariffs range from $575 per night for the junior suites to $1075 for the top level penthouse suite. It has two private balconies and panoramic harbour views and comes with its own study, gourmet kitchenette and oversized spa bath.

Other facilities include a fine dining room and restaurant, with a commercial kitchen, separate bar facilities, a library, lounge, meeting suites and a health and beauty spa.

Mollies has hosted a number of overseas celebrities over the years - reputed to have included: Sean Connery, Shania Twain, Jay-Z and Beyonce who like the privacy of small, more intimate establishments in preference to large hotels.

“It has attracted luxury travellers from all over the world as well as from within New Zealand drawn by the five star quality accommodation coupled with its superb location,” Haydock says. “Catered corporate and private functions have been a significant part of Mollies’ business as well with the picturesque landscaped lawns and terraced gardens able to be used for these events over the summer months.”

The larger of the two dwellings dates back to the 1870s when it was built as the home of Archibald Clark, the first Mayor of Auckland in the 1850s. It has been substantially modernised and extended to the rear over the years.

It was subsequently the Little Sisters of the Poor convent, a boarding house and private home before entrepreneur Mollie Wilson bought it in 1964 and opened the Harbour Bridge Motel. She built up a very successful business before selling the property to her daughter Frances Wilson and Stephen Fitzgerald in 2000.

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The lounge within Mollies hotel. 

They spent the next decade establishing Mollies as a boutique hotel. It built up a strong brand profile with high end travellers and under their ownership, which ended in 2011, it became a member of Relais & Chateaux, an association of top-class hotels around the world, as well as the only Auckland member of the US-based invitation-only travel club Virtuoso, which specialises in luxury travel. It made the Conde Nast Gold Traveller list of the world's best hotels in 2011.

Both dwellings are elevated above street level and benefit from a northerly aspect and spectacular views out to the Waitemata Harbour, Auckland Harbour Bridge and North Shore and back to the Central Business District, says Haydock.

“The property is strategically located on the prestigious northern slopes of Herne Bay, near the border with St Marys Bay, and close to Auckland's CBD and the waterfront. This makes it a very desirable location for visitors to Auckland as well as a sought after residential precinct..”

Tweed Street is a short residential through road extending between Curran Street and Shelly Beach Road. “It’s in a very central location, within a short distance of the boutique stores and the popular café and restaurant scene on Ponsonby Road and Jervois Road,” says Haydock

Alan Haydock

Alan Haydock of Bayleys.

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