By Pauline Stewart
Some of this is extracted form an address Alan Hopping gave at the Historical society in 2022. He spoke about the experience of finding the thermal spring and establishing the working thermal pools. Alan added for the Society, some hopes, and plans for the future, based on the past. A personal interview added more details.
Today, The Lost Spring is with Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach one of the top three tourist attractions on the Coromandel Peninsula. The current Lost Spring resort brings many benefits to the business and arts community, not only in employing people but in the magnetic attraction it has for city dwellers to come and enjoy the wonderful offerings of the Lost Spring and then experience more of the Coromandel Peninsula’s beauty and adventures, in particular Mercury Bay. Alan has single-handedly transformed the prospects of many local business owners. He epitomised hope and taking a risk for the sake of the future.
If we go back to the beginning, Alan risked a lot. He had a vison that compelled him to doggedly keep searching and drilling for the hot water that he sensed was there deep down in the earth and that he had researched enough to know his intuition was on the mark. It was not easy to keep on when so many obstacles – technical, mechanical, financial and emotional plagued the arduous journey to see the vision through. Alan sees what has been achieved as Stage One of many stages.
(Read the Summer Magazine 2022 -23, published by The Informer – page 9).
His vision for The Lost Spring is multi-faceted and includes the opportunity for so many others to join and be a part of its influence, and its benefits.
First, Alan is not afraid of foreign ownership. He is looking forward to there being a hotel and a language centre. The hotel needs to be part of an upmarket hotel chain. He explains people will prepay for the full package - accommodation, the full day spa, meals, beauty treatment, day trips, art tours, evening shows. “We will enhance and build on our reputation to provide top end hotel packages for couples. “I’m looking for the same level of quality and service as a Puka Park or Huka Lodge - an 80 room boutique hotel where we will focus on the luxury adult experience.”
Alan is very aware that good things don’t happen in a hurry, but he is restless enough to work now to lay the foundations for the further stages of development. “We must prepare now to develop further aspects of The Lost Spring. We need to cater for this area of growth. It’s a niche market and it will bring a wealth of resource, energy, and opportunity for high level infrastructure. This is not possible for the geography we have and based on our resident population. Why would we rely on that?” Second, the message and ambience of The Lost Spring is Pacifica - the sights and sounds of the Pacific Islands and the Pacific Ocean – inclusive of all peoples within and around its life. That is Alan’s point of difference in terms of emphasis in design, content, structure, and personnel - what people experience in all their senses when they come to this resort in the future. Alan is committed to engage tomorrow’s markets.
Alan is devising an art gallery but specialising in Pacifica art. Again, looking for a point of difference, his puzzling focus for this Art Gallery is a 1974 Corvette which he says is the only international aspect of this gallery. Alan has the corvette ready to go. This gallery will be built right through the current car park and will be constructed over the current general meeting- function area and will be 2000 ft square in area.
Third, growth and broad change according to Alan’s vision is essential. Hammer Springs, a few years ago, was receiving 610,00 visitors a year. In Rotorua, the Polynesian Pools attracted 380,000. “We do not intend to develop beyond 100,000. We will be offering a more exclusive experience. The front gate will be managed for high-level hospitality.” Alan knows that this will all take time and investment. He is looking at a seven-year staging. People wonder, where is the land? He smiles and says, “Our development will all be vertical. In this the Lost Spring will be standing alone. We need a 20% per year growth. During Covid, our weekends at The Lost Spring were like public holidays. We literally did our normal year’s turnover in the period when Auckland was closed and locked down. We lowered our costs as people needed the care and the affirmation of the treatment we offered. That experience confirmed in me the potential this Resort must service a big market with excellent therapeutic care and luxurious enjoyment.”
Alan reasserts that none of this will be possible without quality and trained staff. “I look for indications that the government will soften their resistance to facilitate smooth access to qualified offshore staff. I am looking for the Pacifica spirit.”
Alan thinks about the future and what has gone before. “The Lost Spring must stand alone. We cannot expect our children to follow a course that they don’t see as theirs. We intend to be here in 100 years and that’s a commitment that our Board is putting in place. Family are a part of the dream and the energy, but we will not let The Lost Spring become a burden to any of them. When The Lost Spring opened, Christmas of 2008, we owed a lot of contractors money. But I knew at that point, we would make it for them. However, six months before we got to Christmas, in my wakeful times in the night, I would think about the progress we were making for the whole team and that inspired me that I may live to see The Lost Spring open. Before, I contemplated that I might die before The Lost Spring opened. In those six months, I became prayerful. My prayer was, if I die the day it opens, I will be grateful but heck, I got to see that day and beyond and I promised then to give profits away. That has not changed. This is not about money. We have beneficiary Trusts - rewards for great young people. We need to commit to helping others to achieve their dreams. I can speak for myself and The Lost Spring. It’s not for me to dictate for other businesses and organisations. But I believe pursuing this dream through its stages will make a lot of things possible for our wider community beyond The Lost Spring.”
I want to build a better place for Greta, (Greta Thornburg), for all young New Zealanders. To do that I have to take risks and risks are about courage. My understanding is that all adults need to stand up and stop trusting the system and accepting mediocrity. We have a short time span of time to act. I’m glad about that.”