Takapuna’s original virtual reality arcade has returned after being closed for nearly a year due to the impact of last year’s nationwide lockdowns.
Messages received by email, phone, and social media showed massive support for The VR Club to return immediately following the drop to alert level 3. However, setbacks in finding suitable new premises meant the reopening was delayed to February 2021.
“Last year was such an unexpectedly challenging time,” says Peter Laurent, owner and operator of The VR Club. “All business owners I talked to had similar experiences. Many will be in recovery mode for months or years. We are all looking forward to a return to normal, and the trend has been in that direction so far, which is encouraging.”
The VR Club’s new location is at Lake House Arts Centre in Fred Thomas Drive, Takapuna, and Peter says the response has been fantastic. “Many people have commented how easy the location is to access from the motorway and on the ease of finding a free car park compared to the old location behind Hurstmere Road.
“There’s a great synergy for both The VR Club and Lake House Arts in being in the same location,” adds Peter. “Lake House was already running VR art classes, so this was a natural extension for them to create more awareness of their offerings and the on-site café. For The VR Club, it allows us to try something new, including recently going completely wireless for the VR headsets. It’s impossible to go back to a tether afterward!
“We are also offering new ‘Open Range’ experiences where up to four people can walk around a large virtual arena in a shared space as a team.”
The new set-up allows The VR Club to cater to more diverse groups, from local businesses doing team-building during the day, to after-work drinks and gaming on a Friday instead of sitting in traffic on the harbour bridge. There are also options for classic kids’ birthday parties on weekends, and off-site events such as at Parklane Village Rest Home, and even an upcoming VR roadshow around the North Island.
“I’m excited for the future of the entertainment and hospitality industry,” says Peter. “It’s hard to find a good fit of excellent premises with good people in charge, but when you do, it makes all the difference!”