LUX­URY LODGES for ul­ti­mate mem­o­ries

New Zealand is spoilt for choice with lux­ury lodges. Dot­ted around some of the most nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful spots of our coun­try, are jew­els of the ac­com­mo­da­tion world. Stay­ing at a lux­ury lodge is some­thing ev­ery­one should do at least once,

Travel Digest - - FRONT PAGE - writes ALANA SRUBAR-VER­NON.

Over­look­ing Lake Ro­torua, Pep­pers on the Point has a col­lec­tion of vary­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions that can cater for ev­ery trav­eller’s re­quest. We en­joyed one of the cot­tage suites that are set apart from the main lodge. The cot­tage is a highly rec­om­mended op­tion for those trav­el­ling with small chil­dren, as there are no wor­ries about po­ten­tially dis­turb­ing other guests. It is well equipped and on re­quest comes with a cot. There is small kitchen which al­lows for some self-cater­ing if needed. The din­ing and liv­ing room are open plan, both with large win­dows (full win­dows in the liv­ing room) that are set to pro­vide un­in­ter­rupted views over Lake Ro­torua. Watch­ing the moon­light sparkle on the waves on the lake, whilst sit­ting back en­joy­ing a glass of wine is noth­ing short of breath­tak­ing. The room ex­uded in­ti­macy with a king bed, dec­o­rated with lux­u­ri­ous bed­spreads. Ad­join­ing was a size­able bath­room, with a shower that had jets from ev­ery di­rec­tion; so take heed when turn­ing it on. The toi­letries, house­coats and slip­pers com­pleted the air of in­dul­gence. On the deck there is a pri­vate spa pool that is freshly filled for each guest with un­treated hot wa­ter, for soak­ing in and en­joy­ing the views. Ob­vi­ously us­ing the spa pool at night would be a lovely ex­pe­ri­ence. I opted to try it out dur­ing the day, which I heartily rec­om­mend as just in front of the cot­tage are some of the res­i­dent live­stock, don­keys and sheep, me­an­der­ing by talk­ing to each other, which added to the at­mos­phere. Be­ing on the rim of an an­cient vol­cano, the rocky out­crops make for dramatic land­scape. There is a walk­ing track down to the lake fore­shore where guests can en­joy a small pri­vate beach. A wa­ter plane is also able to dock here and pro­vides unique ex­cur­sions for guests and is a great way to aeri­ally take in this vol­canic area of New Zealand. There is a pri­vate chapel that would make for truly spec­tac­u­lar wed­ding and pho­tos. To go with a wed­ding they have the abil­ity to cater for pri­vate events such as wed­dings or busi­ness re­treats.

There is an as­so­ci­a­tion with most lodges and a fine din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Pep­pers on the Point is no ex­cep­tion. The metic­u­lous menu can be en­joyed wher­ever suits guests; din­ing with oth­ers in the main lodge, in a pri­vate el­e­gant din­ing room, or per­haps tak­ing in the views from your own suite. The break­fast nook of the main lodge al­lows guests to in­ter­act and ad­vice is on hand from the man­ager to help plan your day in the area. Tree­tops Lodge is nes­tled amongst the na­tive trees near Horo­horo. The 2,500 hectare work­ing es­tate is an exclusive na­tive won­der­land ready to be ex­plored at your fin­ger­tips. Tree­tops has such a range of ex­pe­ri­ences, I was like kid in a candy store, mind bog­gled with what to do first. Upon ar­rival we were greeted and per­son­ally shown (which in­volves a short drive) to our pri­vate val­ley view villa (there are al­ter­na­tively forest view vil­las). Set over­look­ing a tree-lined val­ley ev­ery­thing ex­udes op­u­lence, but re­tains its look of be­ing one with the land. The stone en­trance­way, leads into a taste­fully dec­o­rated liv­ing room, com­plete with a large open fire­place that we lite to add to the at­mos­phere. Not that it is needed as the un­der­floor heat­ing keeps the rooms at the tem­per­a­ture de­sired. Tree­tops takes bath­room breaks to the next level, with a large bath­room (once again with un­der­floor heat­ing) with both a large walk in shower and a spa bath. The bed­room, like the liv­ing room, has floor to ceil­ing win­dows to take in the views and a large walk in wardrobe. The build­ing ma­te­ri­als and in­ter­nal dé­cor have a real con­nec­tion to the land. With wood and stone be­ing an im­por­tant part of the de­sign, in the vil­las and the main lodge. Walk­ing on a well main­tained track back to the main lodge, guests en­joy the sights and smells of New Zealand’s na­tive bush in its un­tamed glory. Ev­ery room in the main lodge is exquisitely dec­o­rated to match the earthy theme of the es­tate. The long Rimu beams of the main hall are as­tound­ing in size and were sur­pris­ingly cut by hand with chain saws. The ad­join­ing rooms to the main hall, such as the busi­ness cen­tre, are set with a coun­try feel to them. Proudly mounted are deer heads, that re­late to the dif­fer­ent kinds of deer found on the es­tate, and one of the sig­na­ture ex­pe­ri­ence guests can have at Tree­tops; hunt­ing. The per­fect treat when trav­el­ling as a fam­ily is to have some an­i­mal en­coun­ters. With an early morn­ing four-wheel drive sa­fari (an­other one of Tree­tops sig­na­ture ex­pe­ri­ences), we took plea­sure in spot­ting all the dif­fer­ent kinds of deer. Not only deer roam the es­tate, but other ex­otic an­i­mals such as wa­ter buf­falo, wild pig, tur­keys and many more, can be found as guests are taken around the es­tate. An­other great way to ex­pe­ri­ence the es­tate is to walk it. There are tens of kilo­me­tres of tracks all over the es­tate, suited to vary­ing lev­els of fit­ness. On­site is also a spa com­plex, which I had to my­self that evening, to en­joy a sauna. Other spa treat­ments are avail­able should you de­sire, but I just wanted to un­wind in seclu­sion, en­joy­ing the bushy view from the large win­dow over­look­ing the forest. As if all that wasn’t enough, din­ing is just amaz­ing! The real con­nec­tion to the land was ap­par­ent even in the food. The chefs are trained in Maori cook­ing us­ing na­tive plants to in the dishes and the meat used came from the es­tate. A sen­sa­tional six cour­ses later, we knew we wouldn’t dine this well again any­time soon. Break­fast con­tin­ued the fine­din­ing ex­posé. Nu­mer­ous hot or cold break­fast op­tions were avail­able, made fresh from or­der, as well as, your hot drink re­quests. Whilst wait­ing con­ti­nen­tal break­fast dishes were avail­able. My re­view of these two lux­ury lodges do not do jus­tice to the ex­pe­ri­ence of stay­ing, or how pam­per­ing it truly was.

OTHER LUX­URY LODGES:

An­nan­dale – Near Akaroa, Can­ter­bury and away from the tourist trail, this lux­ury coastal farm es­cape has four award­win­ning vil­las to give guests a re­laxed Kiwi ex­pe­ri­ence. The 4,000-acre es­tate is a run­ning farm, re­ally bring­ing home the farm-to-ta­ble cui­sine for guests. There are over 10km of rugged coast­line, which can be kayaked or ex­plored by mo­tor­boat. Ma­hana Villa – is lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion in Up­per Moutere, Marl­bor­ough, with sweep­ing views across Ma­hana Vine­yard to the Tas­man Bay and the South­ern Alps. There is the pri­vate, four-en­suite Owner’s Villa and The Loft con­tain­ing two lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tions. The Villa sits at the apex of the 25-hectare or­ganic Ma­hana vine­yard, next to the Ma­hana Cel­lar Door, Kitchen and cus­tom-built, four storey, grav­ity flow win­ery. The guest ex­pe­ri­ence of­fers cui­sine pre­pared by a Miche­lin trained ex­ec­u­tive chef, a dy­namic range of wines through pri­vate tast­ings and one of the largest pri­vately owned mod­ern art col­lec­tions in the South­ern Hemi­sphere. Minaret Sta­tion – Board­ing with UNESCO World Her­itage site Mt As­pir­ing Na­tional Park, the lux­u­ri­ous Alpine Lodge is a work­ing 50,000-acre high coun­try farm. Nes­tled at 915-me­tres in the scenic South­ern Alps and only ac­ces­si­ble by he­li­copter, the lodge is truly an alpine ex­pe­ri­ence. Guided hikes, fly fish­ing, heli-ski­ing and hunt­ing are just a few of the per­son­al­ized sig­na­ture ex­pe­ri­ences avail­able for guests at Minaret Sta­tion.

LEFT: The lounge at Pep­pers on the Point.

ABOVE: Fire­side din­ing at Tree­tops Lodge.

Ma­hana Villa, Marl­bor­ough.

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