Queenstown may be known as New Zealand’s “Adventure Capital”, but we think it should be known as the Capital of Luxury. After all, what’s better than sinking into the warm waters of your own private hot tub after a day spent jet skiing on the lake? Or returning to a relaxing glass of Krug champagne after an adrenaline-fuelled bungy jump?
We spoke with the top executives at three of Queenstown’s most luxurious properties—Eichardt’s Private Hotel, The Rees Hotel, and Matakauri Lodge—to uncover the South Island’s most extravagant indulgences.
Eichardt’s Private Hotel
Location, location, location. Eichardt’s Private Hotel is right on the lakefront in the city centre. “Walk out the door and you’re into the cafes and bars and restaurants”, says Group General Manager James Cavanagh. It makes sense: this historic property is the city’s original hotel, and the town grew up around it. Its façade is heritage-listed, and it features all original stonework and timberwork. With just 11 rooms, Eichardt’s is the definition of a luxury boutique hotel, and includes service befitting such a distinguished landmark.
The Suite: In November 2016, Eichardt’s opened New Zealand’s highest-priced hotel suite: The Penthouse. This 3,000-square-foot, two-bedroom rooftop suite has a huge terrace with a hot tub and an indoor sauna and fireplace. It includes an on-call private chef and a 24-hour butler (bonus: your butler is also a sommelier and tour guide).
The Awards: Eichardt’s is the most awarded private hotel in the country. Among other honours, it was named the Luxury Hotel and Restaurant of the Year at the international Luxury Travel Guide Awards, then crowned New Zealand’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel at the annual World Ski Awards for the fifth year running.
The Rees Hotel
At The Rees Hotel, you’ll feel free to just relax. Chief Executive Mark Rose says, “We have an amazing location in an amazing town, but our real point of difference is our engaged, happy, friendly team—nothing is a problem”. Sip world-renowned vintages in the award-winning True South Dining Room, explore the town on an electric bicycle, or just relax in your room with spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. Queenstown is your playground, and the team at The Rees will ensure you have a holiday to remember.
The Suite: The Rees’ most opulent offerings are the Lakeside Residences. There are only five of these three-bedroom, three-bathroom luxury apartments. Recline on your oversized terrace taking in stunning alpine views, then head to dinner whenever you choose—you’ll have priority booking status in the dining room. Best of all? “People love having our Luxury Curator on call from the moment they arrive to sort their days”, says Mr. Rose.
The Awards: The Rees won Best New Zealand Hotel and Best New Zealand Chef at the 2017 Hotel Management Awards. True South Dining Room chef Ben Batterbury is a rising star, and the restaurant’s wine list has numerous awards as well, including making Fine Wine’s World’s Best Wine Lists 2017 and a Wine Spectator Award for the last seven years.
Matakauri Lodge is located 7.5km from downtown Queenstown, making it the perfect combination of vibrant city life and relaxed country seclusion. “Guests feel like they are a mile away from anything when nestled into the banks of Lake Wakatipu”, says Emanuel Grosch, Matakauri Lodge Manager. Mesmerising views of “The Big Three” (the Remarkables, Cecil Peak, and Walter Peak) are just the beginning of your “home away from home” experience—the hotel’s cuisine is inspired by local, seasonal produce, and the warm service is always welcoming.
The Room: The Owner’s Cottage is the epitome of extravagance: four bedrooms, each with a private balcony with mountain panoramas, plus a main lounge, study, kitchen, and dining room—with a private chef available. And you’ll have a spacious outdoor courtyard and a main balcony with an infinity-edge hot tub. It doesn’t get any better.
The Awards: Matakauri Lodge made the 2018 Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, the 2017 Travel + Leisure World’s Best, and was named the No. 5 Best Resort in Australia and New Zealand by T+L. It also made the Luxury Travel Magazine Gold List and was named No. 2 Best New Zealand Luxury Property (within driving distance to a city).
Mr. Rose of The Rees has planned your perfect day. Pedal along the bike trail that links Queenstown and Gibbston and explore the best of the area’s viticulture along the way. Don’t go past the award-winning pinot noir at Brennan Wines and pinot gris at Peregrine Wines. And don’t forget to have some lunch along the way—duck confit or lamb pithivier at Gibbston Valley Winery Restaurant will do the trick. Top it all off with a bungy jump from the famous Kawarau Bridge for a day that embodies the true New Zealand spirit.
Southern Lakes Art and Wine Tour
Mr. Grosch of Matakauri Lodge says this tour can’t be missed. You’ll be in the care of Black ZQN, the premier luxury tour operator in Queenstown, for a personalised excursion spent exploring the art studios of Arrowtown and the vineyards of Central Otago. Along the way you can feast on indulgent meals prepared just for you. Whether you love art, wine, food, or all three, this tour is ideal.
Private Yacht Charter
Eichardt’s owns a 24-m-long cruising yacht called the Pacific JEMM, which will be used exclusively for private charters on Lake Wakatipu, says Mr. Cavanagh. Immerse yourself in the inlets and hidden coves of New Zealand’s longest lake, customising your adventure however you choose. Stop in charming lakeside towns like Kingston and Glenorchy, or get away from it all on secluded islands. The day is yours to enjoy.
This tapas and cocktail bar makes the list thanks to Mr. Rose of The Rees, who says, “La Rumbla in Arrowtown is my favourite restaurant”. That’s quite a recommendation coming from an executive of one of Queenstown’s most luxurious hotels. The menu can change, but signature dishes include Brazilian seafood moqueca, linguine con granchio, and ricotta fritti, as well as incredible desserts.
For lakefront dining, you can’t beat Botswana Butchery. The best seats are on the deck, near the outdoor fireplace, where the lake will be right in front of you. Inside, sumptuous leather couches next to roaring fireplaces invite you to sit for a drink and stay for a meal. There’s no rush here—start with delectable French onion soup, share the slow-roasted lamb shoulder, and see where the night takes you.
When Mr. Cavanagh says, “People come from far and wide to have our seafood chowder in Eichardt’s Bar”, he’s not kidding. This chowder is almost as legendary as the bar itself, which has been around since 1867. Don’t miss out on the cocktails, either. Eichardt’s Bar picked up a 2018 Spirited Award for Best Hotel Bar from Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.