Ritz-Carlton is considering going to New Zealand.
Ritz-Carlton is one of the world's biggest hotel names long tipped for Auckland, along with Hyatt, which last year announced it would return to New Zealand in a new building along Auckland's waterfront.
As for Ritz-Carlton, "we continuously look for opportunities to expand The Ritz-Carlton presence in New Zealand," a Singaporean spokeswoman Michele Lv said.
The Ritz-Carlton has been rumoured to be lined up for a proposed skyscraper planned by Chinese businessman Furu Ding's company, NDG on a central car park site bounded by Elliott St.
The project has initial resource consent but is rumoured to have been delayed.
Dean Humphries, Collier's hotel specialist, said many hotel brands had been keeping an eye on New Zealand for years, including Ritz-Carlton, and some were now moving in.
Accor, Marriott-Starwood and Hilton were all in expansion mode, with Hilton's DoubleTree brand taking over Christchurch's Chateau on the Park recently and IHG announcing a new Holiday Inn in Queenstown and an "express" hotel in Christchurch.
Also looking on were the Asian hotel brands such as Shangri-La, which was not yet here. Singaporean chain Naumi Hospitality was opening its first hotel at Auckland Airport
These big names brought their loyalty programmes with them and a level of luxury which was stirring up existing players and prompting a wave of refurbishments, Humphries said.
"At the end of the day they do normally attract a different clientele than say a mid-market hotel, but of course it does mean that all the five star hotels are going to have to lift their game."
New Zealand is suddenly on the radar of international retailers and hotel operators because of the high tourism numbers which are lifting hotel room revenues and spending.
Arrivals from China have quadrupled in the last decade, and Chinese tourists spend more than other nationalities on products to take home.