Fit for a king The Lodge at Kinloch
This lodge has been designed to emulate Kinloch Castle in Scotland, but with a contemporary look and feel. LORRAINE THOMSON checks in and laps up the luxury.
The castle in Scotland with the same name has a very regal look, with red bricks and turrets and is on the small Isle of Rum, off the west coast of Scotland. The Lodge at Kinloch on the shores of Lake Taupo, is actually quite a contrast, with white bricks and no turrets, but plenty of chimneys. The accommodation is in freestanding black timber villas. You, nevertheless, sense this is a very special place. The outside look is quite unassuming – until you step inside. I would call the look “luxury industrial”. There are lots of black tiles, whitewash boards and metallic fixtures. There are gold metallic grills over the fireplaces, bronze coated chairs, gold plated mirror frames and metal candle holders and in places floor to ceiling glass with panoramic views over Lake Taupo and majestic views over the Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. There is accommodation for up to 55 people, but plans are in place to build other villas around the golf course. The golf course and the clubhouse are actually the first things you notice when you drive up the long winding drive to the lodge. This golf course is no ordinary golf course. I am no great golf player, but I did play nine of the 18 holes on offer and I can tell you there was not one weed on the whole golf course. Even when you hit a golf ball into the “rough” you can always find your ball. To make the whole golfing experience a bit easier, you are provided with a golf cart which you can take up to your villa after the game and use to drive to and from the lodge restaurant later in the evening. You really do feel like royalty at this place. If golf is not your thing, but you are keen to learn, the golf pro Tom Long is very willing to teach you the basics. The villa my husband and I were in featured wooden floorboards, brown woollen rugs and a black feature wall among the white walls. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors, opened out on to extensive wooden decks. There was a lounge and a den with fireplaces and contemporary paintings and high quality golfing books and magazines. The kitchen was fitted out with every appliance you would need, including behind closed doors – a washing machine and dryer. On the kitchen bench-top and in the fridge was New Zealand delicacies such as Donovan’s chocolate fudge, Kumara chips, cheese and crackers and a selection of wine and beer. On the table was an ice bucket and bottle of Cloudy Bay. The lodge staff seemed to get wind that it was our wedding anniversary and left a lovely little note alongside the wine. The bathroom was almost like another lounge – just fitted out with different pluming. There was a freestanding white bath, a huge walk-in shower and really plenty of room to swing a cat! A New Zealand range of toiletries, Nellie Tier, offered a choice of body lotion, shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap. A short ride on the golf cart to the main lodge at the end of the day for pre-dinner drinks and canapés added to the delightful experience. This is where we mingled with
other lodge guests in the lounge bar, which offered extensive and pensive views out over Lake Taupo as the sun went down. It is amazing who you come across at lodges tucked a long way from home. I was lucky to sit next to one of New Zealand’s leading tourism entrepreneurs at the long dining table that night. He told me he how his tourism operations are not only in New Zealand, but also in Australia and in the United States [where he also has a house]. Dinner was a work of art from the sous chef Jeremy Talbot, who previously worked at TriBeCa in Auckland. I enjoyed potato and leek soup, followed by milk cooked pork fillet. Thinking of my waistline, I decided to pass on the citrus and mascarpone cheesecake on offer. I can’t recall the vineyard the wine was from – which may be a reflection of the fine time I was having – but I do know it was a New Zealand wine. The following morning we headed off on a brisk walk down Kinloch Road to the lake. We passed delightful houses, a general store, a café restaurant called The Tipsy and a marina full of yachts of varying sizes. It was about an hour and a half walk there and back – and I can tell you we needed that walk to make room for the very filing country breakfast to follow. I enjoyed Cranberry juice, gluten-free toast and a mushroom omelette with blue cheese and truffle oil. All washed down with a freshly made flat white coffee. A big plus at the lodge is the complimentary wifi in both the lounge areas and in the villas. [All lodges and hotels should be offering this.] After breakfast we headed downstairs to a delightful spa facility. I enjoyed a Romiromi massage, which is the deeper of the traditional holistic Maori body treatments. Similar to Hawaii’s Lomilomi, it combines body alignment, deep-tissue massage and stimulation of pressure points to aid the release of cellular blockages, toxins, pain and extraneous energy. My massage therapist told me afterwards she had “realigned” me, so that alone made me feel more composed. For special occasions or for special guests, you can arrive and depart this lodge by helicopter. There is a helipad on site and a choice of local tourism destinations, including a flight over Huka Falls, a trip to Hobbiton and / or Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Another option is to take a helicopter ride to Treetops Lodge & Estate in Rotorua. The eco lodge is a sister lodge – in the midst of an ancient native forest. This wedding anniversary will be one I will remember and rejoice for some time. I am now looking out for another reason, to return.
The Lodge at Kinloch, overlooks Lake Taupo in the distance.
Entrance to The Lodge at Kinloch.
Kinloch club bar.