Peter Morrison has spent his professional career in the hospitality industry and his credentials and prestigious awards support his ‘guru’ status.
We caught up with Peter at The Classic Villa about his hospitality journey and how we can support the industry year-round.
Your credentials and awards are of the highest nature in your field. Was hospitality always your first choice?
It’s always been about people. My passion encompasses people enjoying themselves at the location they stay at; all about the memories they make and when they look back to the time they spent at a specific place; what those memories hold; how they recall the experience and the feelings they felt; the stories they can tell. That sums up hospitality to a tee and I was fortunate to find my ‘calling’ early in life, straight from Wellington College.
Where did it all start?
I began my career back in the mid-1970s as a management trainee with the company now known as Lion and then gained extensive experience in numerous hotels around the country. I moved to Christchurch in 1986 when I became the General Manager of the Hotel Russley and then I took the next logical step and I became one of the owners of that establishment and started my divergence from management to ownership.
This has led you to The Classic Villa Boutique Hotel. This place is impeccable and I felt like a queen just walking in.
Then I’ve accomplished my goal. I want my patrons to feel like the royalty they are. I’m very proud of this boutique hotel and its history, but mostly the atmosphere and comfort people feel as soon as they walk through the door. It is a special place that my partner Jan and I took over in 2006 and we work hard to attain and retain its 5 star Qualmark rating. Prior to moving here, I successfully owned and managed Morrison Hospitality Management Ltd where our attention was on a number of accommodation bar and restaurant establishments including Morrisons on Merrin in Avonhead and the Mansfield House & Tavern in Merivale. I have enjoyed each location and experience, but The Classic Villa holds a special place in my heart and I just love it. More importantly I love what I do.
In 2018 you received an Order of Merit (MNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to hospitality, when you were called ‘the host extraordinaire’.
I was surprised and totally humbled by the honour. It was so good the hospitality/tourism industries were recognised. I never expected it, doing something I love. Again, it has always been about the people, the experience and the memories. To receive this honour was very touching.
In your 40 years of industry experience, how have things changed or evolved?
Travel is something that just about everyone thinks about and participates in these days. People dream about their next vacation; where they are going to stay, what they are going to see and eat, and people enjoy talking about their experiences and recommending places or not. Hospitality caters to and focuses on providing ‘wow’ factor, comfort and enjoyment. With all the hospitality that happens on a daily basis around New Zealand and in Christchurch specifically, our industry can hold their head high because we really do care about the customer experience. I have served on the national board of Hospitality New Zealand for over 10 years, currently National Vice President and Canterbury branch President. I see first-hand the desire and detail that goes into hospitality protocols and systems; they are top notch.
One of the topics I have spoken about is the importance of community support. If locals and tourists don’t come out and support their establishments, there is no choice but to close. Hospitality is a low margin industry. It’s all about volume. Although it’s wonderful to be a location of choice for tourists, hospitality is more about locals supporting hospitality establishments to keep us going year-round.
Mini-breaks or vacations to stay in accommodation within your own city provide a relaxing close-to-home experience. Trying food locations to support local cuisine is important, as well as meeting up with friends at a bar. Hospitality stays in business because of local community support and we appreciate that here in Canterbury; Christchurch especially.
You represent New Zealand’s tourism and hospitality sectors on the world stage as a member and Senior Vice President of SKAL International, you’re a friend of the Arts Centre and you are the Vice-President of the national board of Hospitality New Zealand…
What can I say? I am committed to this industry and its owners and managers as well as the patrons who frequent them; working together, supporting each other creates those lifelong memories and experiences worth sharing. I can’t imagine doing anything else and don’t plan to stop any time soon.