Luxury lodge sold to beer baron
British banking boss Sir Keith Whitson and his wife Lady Sabine Whitson have sold their Motueka luxury lodge and farm to the head of a French Polynesian beer and soft drinks business.
The asking price two years ago for Paratiho Estate had been $20 million, but the lawyer acting on behalf of the new owner JeanPierre Fourcade said he paid less than that.
The lodge on the property, built about 18 years ago, was originally a luxury hotel but has been used by the couple as a private residence.
It includes four lakes, a croquet lawn, a heli-pad, a professional standard putting green, a swimming pool, tennis court and an area of mature native bush.
Along with the lodge comes a 769 hectare sheep, cattle and deer farm about 50 kilometres west of Nelson.
Fourcade, 63, is the president of a brewery called la Brasserie de Tahiti and the great grandson of the person who founded it in 1914.
Best known for the lager Hinano, la Brasserie is the seventh largest company in the French territory, employing 391.
Lawyer Steve Rutherford said the Whitsons have moved back permanently to the UK for family reasons.
Fourcade would use the lodge as a home and not a hotel.
In an announcement the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) which had to give consent for the sale, described Fourcade as a citizen of France and a resident of French Polynesia.
Sheep, cattle and deer are bred and fattened on the farm.
Fourcade plans to undertake a capital fertiliser program, with the goal of significantly increasing stock numbers, especially deer.
He has also said he will establish a new sauvignon blanc vineyard of 20 ha on the property.
At least three new full time equivalent jobs would be created as a result of the developments.
Fourcade has also committed to protect 13 areas of the land, comprising forest, plantation forestry and wetlands, identified as having high ecological value.
He will arrange for five blocks on the land to be protected with Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenants.
Two new access strips will be established in consultation with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.
Fourcade has been president of the la Brasserie de Tahiti since 1992.
In a history on la Brasserie’s website he recalls the smells of the hops in the brewery from childhood, and looks to the future of the business.
Sir Keith Whitson and Lady Sabine Whitson at their former home Paratiho Lodge.