Sumner Hotel News Blog

Le Petit Hotel, the French Hotel in Sumner, Christchurch, NZ  opened,  and the Sumner Hotel News Blog, went live,  on the 18th December 2005.

It is with regret we advise that Le Petit Hotel is now closed.

Writing on behalf of Martine, my partner in The French Company NZ Ltd., both of us have enjoyed the journey, especially meeting and making friends with people from around NZ and all corners of the world.

Together we would like to express our sincere thanks to all of our guests who contributed in their own unique way to make our hosting experience rewarding.

We wish all of our past guests, world travellers and Kiwis alike, who crossed the threshold of Le Petit Hotel, all the very best for the future.

Bruce Whitfield

Managing Director

Life’s Twists and Turns with Covid 19

Many of our past kiwi guests will by now be aware that Le Petit Hotel is no more, but the hotel  phone still reminds us occasionally that both Martine & I are now in a different place and time. We haven’t moved far though; just next door to the building that performed so well for us since 2004. However it is important at this point to note that we have no connection with any business that is now carried on at the address.

Most of my previous post conceived back in April 2020 is still relevant today and is reposted here below;  however we sadly note the passing of our dearly beloved Kara, who had been battling cancer for quite some time. The gap in both mine & Martine’s lives is immeasurable. She is missed terribly.

In a previous post, titled The Changing Face of Hospitality, I never would have considered a future post about Life’s Twists and Turns, and certainly the thought never occurred to me,  that a global pandemic, (Covid 19) would rip the heart out of New Zealand’s finely tuned tourism industry, have us all baled up inside our residences out of fear for an extremely contagious virus, that had spun out of China around November/December 2019. The Government’s lock-up/stay-in /wash  hands strategy for fighting this virus has given us all, loads of time to pause and consider the meaning of life. It’s also shown the global family on planet Earth that despite all the money( phoney stuff included) in the world today, and all the technology that is able to be applied to our environment, a protein coated molecule was capable of totally disrupting everything that humans have come to regard as secure, and all but stop the planet from spinning.

For us here at Le Petit Hotel, Sumner, NZ,  the negative effect on business has been swift , dramatic, and like all the other hospitality operators everywhere on the planet, there is no escape from the fallout of seeing no travellers either domestic or international. The grounding of almost all commercial aircraft has made sure of that, and combined with countries establishing strict quarantining at their borders, life has been changed significantly at least for the medium term.  However, it would be true to say that things won’t be quite like they used to be, following this particular global pandemic. The true scale of the economic fallout for everyone is yet be be revealed.

In all of this, both Martine & I have had Kara , our “newly sighted” Sottish Terrier,  to care for, following her successful cataract operation by Steve Heap here in Christchurch.  To say that dogs can and do become part of the family is an undeniable truism and Kara is doing her bit to keep us both sane during our personal period of Covid 19 isolation in Le Petit Hotel.

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Pinus pinea; Italian Stone Pine trees common to France & Italy

Please be aware that Le Petit Hotel, Sumner, NZ is now closed.  This update is simply a reflection on the demise of two maturing French/Italian Stone Pine trees that Martine & Bruce planted to reflect the French nature of their hotel.

Travellers arriving at Le Petit Hotel prior to COVID 19 , would have noticed the distinctive juvenile pine trees – Pinus Pinea, gracing the street frontage.  Our original news item copied below, published on the 4th Nov. 2010, explained their heritage.  11 years on now, while still in their formative state, their umbrella type canopy was just beginning to take shape. but as reflected upon via my post script below, they are no more.

4/11/2010 – “Martine & myself recently had some R & R in France during September…one of the best months in respect of the French climate. Some of the time was spent near Plan du la Tour near the Med. coast,
and we couldn’t help noticing a tree with an attractive green umbrella like top…commonly called in France – the Parasol Pine…its botanical name being Pinus pinea. Clearly this was one tree which could survive not only the hot dry Mediterranean seaside environment but also the cold winter winds. For some time now here at Le Petit Hotel, we have been pondering what species of tree we could plant safely in our own Sumner location where the climate varies from hot summer winds, salt laden sea air, to our cooler winter temperatures. So it has been a surprise, in the last few days to locate a source of these Pinus specimens here in NZ at a nursery in New Plymouth :
Needless to say, we are looking forward to trying the species in our own unique NZ climate.
It’s interesting to note that the Pinus Pinea species is the one that produces genuine edible pine nuts, the tree and its nuts having a history of more than 6000 years at least.” Pine nuts are variously described as the most expensive dried fruit in the world.

Reflection time. Post Script: Sadly ..we have to report that the new owners of the building previously known as Le Petit Hotel, Sumner, NZ, saw no value in the two  Pinus Pinea specimen trees ( known in NZ as Stone Pines) which had both matured sufficiently to begin producing numerous pine cones complete with the edible pine nuts.  Both trees succumbed to the kiwi chainsaw disease. It is sort of ironical but possibly attributable to the immaturity of NZ as a colonial society, but to Europeans in general, trees have appreciable value and in both France, Italy and Spain people go to extraordinary lengths to keep trees alive, and indeed shift them around Europe to owners who place a high value them. The same treasure of trees is recognised in China, where not only do they cultivate huge mature tree nurseries, but they also have the skill and dedication to shift and or transplant such trees around their country. 


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A Scottish Terrier’s Unknown Journey with Cataracts, continued.

Diabetic induced cataracts can happen overnight in some dogs.

Our previous blog page began a story about the unknown journey of our beloved Scottish Terrier – Kara,  who became stricken with blindness caused by large white cataracts.  I tried to imagine what Kara was thinking , now that she could no longer see, and it wasn’t hard for Martine & I to make the decision : we had to try and help her. The omens for success were seen to be good.  Once Kara’s insulin levels had been corrected, following her diabetes diagnosis, she had responded quickly & regained her lost weight, and notwithstanding that she was now fully blind, she showed lots of determination to try and cope. We also knew from experience that Kara had responded well in the past to antibiotics, antibiotics being a critical factor in the success or otherwise of dog eye operations.

And so it was that we delivered Kara into the kind hands of Dr Steve Heap at the Veterinary Practice of McMaster & Heap, on Friday 6th March 2020. It was a long day…I mowed lawns and tried not to worry about our dear “girl” . Later that afternoon, Steve phoned to say that all went relatively well,  one eye was easier to do than the other, but that Kara was out of the anesthesia and responding well…so we then knew that the first hurdle had been crossed.

Later that evening both Martine and I travelled across the city to the veterinary clinic where our reunion with her was one of happiness. Even in her post operation condition, we could detect that she was feeling ok and glad to be back in the company of familar voices. But we had yet to determine the outcome of the operation.

However, as I  write this note – Sunday the 8th, and barely 48 hours since her diabetic induced cataracts were operated on, Kara is beginning to realize that she is no longer totally blind.  Some of her sight is definitely returning and a good indication  this morning came when I suggested to her that we go for a ride in the buggy( a 3 wheeler push chair).  She made a fast walk towards the door leading to the patio where the buggy is stored, and was more than happy to have a ride around the neighbourhood. Our first real concrete sign that her confidence is returning & she is happy, despite her dad religiously placing a variety of drops into her eyes every 4 hours .

10 year old Scottish Terrier post an operation to remove cataracts
Kara , now minus her diabetes induced cataracts

Tomorrow Kara has her 1st Post Operation check.

P.S. Kara is progressing well so far.


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A Scottish Terrier’s Unknown Journey with Cataracts

Here at Le Petit Hotel,  our dearly loved Scottish Terrier Kara ,  in less that 48 hours, undergoes a procedure to remove the cataracts that have blinded her in both eyes…to give her a better than a very good chance of seeing again. This blog page  is about our Scottish Terrier’s unknown journey with cataracts.

To say that it’s an unknown journey also for Martine & Bruce here at Le Petit Hotel, is the understatement of the year . We are having to learn each step as we walk with Kara.

This is when you just learn what the word stoic means…as Kara squats down when she hears the click click of Levenmir Flexpen being readied …and then steels herself for the involuntary flinch that comes when Bruce injects her twice daily dose of insulin to counter her diabetic condition.

With looming on Friday this week , we are in a process now preparing her eyes with a number of meds including antibiotics, a necessity prior to the surgery.

Kara is 10 + years old, and while she has her ups and downs with health over the years, just as we do, the onset of diabetes crept up on her fast, albeit while our vet was looking for evidence of Cushings Disease as a cause for her thirst. But diabetes it was, and one night she went to sleep with normal eyesight, and in the morning she had no sight, just large white cataract saucers in front of her pupils. To say we were devastated is an understatement, particularly as we looked on and saw her doing her very best to negotiate in her new world of seeing nothing, and even more reliant on us both for love and care.

For both Martine & I,  there was no choice other than to do our very best for her, and become part of our Scottish Terrier’s unknown journey with Cataracts.

We have entrusted our beloved into the skilful and experienced hands of  Christchurch based Ophthalmologist – Dr Steve Heap.

Scottish Terrier's unknown journey with Cataracts
Do I have to wear this thing dad?
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A Scottish reason to stay at Le Petit Hotel Sumner.

A Reason to Stay at Le Petit Hotel

There are many reasons why travellers choose to stay at Le Petit Hotel, in Sumner,  and most of those relate to the genuine discrete French character and feel that Martine, my partner, has successfully imbued into the hotel’s seaside operation.

However, there is a genuine Scottish reason that many of our guests can relate to , and that is the presence of a  true Scottie dog….our beloved Kara who stepped into the big shoes of her kindred predecessor – Maggie,  10 years ago. In fact many of our return customers feel a connection with Kara as much as the hotel itself, its managers, and the French seaside accommodation offering.

But just as we humans have our own life health issues, Scottish Terriers have their share of troubles. It is very common for Scotties( and many other dog breeds) to be afflicted with cancer in one of its many forms, and so for the past couple of years we have been very focussed on her diet and also the use of what has now been globally proven to be a useful medication ( Denamarin) countering some of the by product (effects) of liver cancer.  We can also thank the antibiotic Clavaseptin  which we found to be very effective to dealing with pneumonia symptoms which hit her some months ago.

However , we are currently dealing with a sad development in that Kara is now diabetic and has become blind following the very rapid development of Cararacts in both eyes.  But we are looking at our options to try and help her.

It is at a time like this, I am reminded of the quote attributed to Anatole France: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

It is just so true.

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The Changing Face of Hospitality

As the owner/operator of a small French Style Hotel providing a fully serviced bed and breakfast hospitality option to travellers, ( in New Zealand) we have seen considerable change in the accommodation environment, since we commenced operations.

Coming from the experience of nearly 15 years in the business here in Sumner, Christchurch, plus our regular sampling of similar hospitality offerings in both Europe and Asia, change is certainly afoot , and we believe largely driven by the global disruption generated by AirBnb.

But it’s not just AirBnB driving the changes. Travellers price and service expectations, their behaviours and attitudes to accommodation options, hosts, and services, are all evolving.  Also driving change within the industry is the behaviour of the historical booking channels most of which have been swallowed up by either or Expedia.  While these 2  global operators contribute to the cash-flows of accommodation businesses large & small, is their insatiable drive to gather more and more cash profit for their conglomerant owners, largely at the expense of the smaller hospitality operators, that is also going to drive change in the industry.  Small operators are being forced to innovate and market themselves directly to travellers.

Certainly , as the hosts of Le Petit Hotel here in Sumner,  New Zealand,  we have seen a wide cross section of global travellers pass through our front doors. In one sense this is the interesting, lifestyle side to small hosting businesses like ourselves.

It’s also an unescapable reality that guests who have become accustomed to, or aligned themselves to  the typical AirBnB walk in walk out – largely carefree attitude to their accommodation choice, are of a different ilk to what were/have been traditional bed & breakfast guests .  Even large chain hotels are not immune to the fallout of the shifting attitudes of travellers,  and in many cases it is leading to higher maintenance costs, eg. stains on carpets etc.

As the shake-out continues between the largely unregulated AirBnB accommodation providers and the more traditional hotel operators – both large and small, there are growing signs that Front office service combined with an effective “personality” differentiator is increasingly the success factor for the latter operators.



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Christchurch 360 Trail, an environmental discovery adventure

Christchurch 360 Trail

The Christchurch 360 Trail offers a unique opportunity for visitors to decode the diverse environment that makes up Christchurch city and its surrounds.

The brain child of Dr Colin Meurk, noted ecologist, and exponent of applied conservation work,  the Christchurch 360 Trail is the culmination of more than 25 years of work by Dr Meurk , translating a concept into a unique experience that highlights what makes Christchurch such a unique place in the South Island, in both a Maori and early European settlers context.

Broken into 8 individual and easily walked trails, the various routes provide a showcase for discovery  of the extensive diversity in ecology, history, culture, and architecture,  that the city has on offer. The average walk being about 7 hours in duration.

The trails also provide a showcase for the diversity of recreational and outdoor activities that Christchurch offers. It’s open season for rock climbers, paragliders and mountain bikers on the hills surrounding the city, while the coastal areas provide for bird watching, surfing and all manner of sailing craft.

Newly created cycle lanes and pedestrian walkways within the city are now increasingly popular with both residents and visitors alike.

However for visitors staying in and around the city, a walk can be selected to suit your particular location. Suggested accommodation options can also be chosen from a list :

Le Petit Hotel , Sumner, is ideally located to cater for walkers who would like to walk both the Godley Cliffs and Estuary Marshes legs of the Christchurch 360 Trail.


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Dog Friendly Hotel

Le Petit Hotel Sumner, Christchurch, couldn’t be anything but dog friendly !  In fact the hotel since its inception back in 2005/2006, has always been the home of a beloved Scottish Terrier.

Currently resident in house is Kara, who will be 10 years this October . Maggie her predecessor was also well known , and before that was Hamish, 

Lately, many Sumner locals will have been surprised to see Martine & Bruce, Le Petit Hotel’s owners, giving Kara a ride in a 3 wheeled buggy.

Sadly we are giving her lots of TLC as she now cannot walk very far. However she absolutely enjoys being “pushed around”.

Dog friendly Le Petit Hotel's beloved Kara
I really like my taxi!


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The Travelling Blondie

The Traveling Blondie phrase is in the URL of a blog dreamt up by true to form Nichole, from small town USA. Her passion is travelling to different places around the world and writing up her experiences so as to help other travellers following in her footsteps.  Nichole’s aim is to supply no nonsense travel information in the form of her cool blog which helps readers make informed choices without trawling through Trip Advisor, Expedia, Booking dot Com etc and getting confused or overwhelmed with information. And above all it is unbiased, honest and more importantly- not promoted for financial gain.

Perhaps understandably, her world travel blog’s menu covers Oceania and included in the drop down menu is  NEW ZEALAND: CHRISTCHURCH AND SUMNER BEACH-THE SOUTH ISLAND’S HIDDEN GEMEven Le Petit Hotel gets a mention,  being described as “an adorable bed and breakfast with great customer service” and that “it’s a 2-minute walk to the beach”.

Nichole has collated an amazing number of beautiful images of her travels around the South Island including some taken on Sumner Beach, and her suggested 10 day itinerary would be one of the best I’ve seen yet.  I particularly like the concise information that she provides, together with relevant photos of exciting and interesting places and activities no one should leave out of their brief look at the South Island of New Zealand.

Sumner Beach, Christchurch, gets singled out for a special mention by Nichole as the South Island’s hidden gem – quaint, quiet and perfect.

Sumner, Scarborough beach, The Traveling Blondie
Quaint, quiet & perfect, Sumner’s Scarborough Beach

Congratulations Nichole, The Traveling Blondie,  on a blog well done! We appreciate your kind words about Sumner Beach, Christchurch as well as the rest of the South Island places that you have mentioned .

I will be following your travels.

Safe , happy voyages where ever you go.

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