I’ve found New Zealand’s best kept secret. It’s not a movie set or a bungee jump. Or a wine. It’s a golf course. Considering I don’t play golf, this is a pretty bold statement. I am in fact more interested in what’s sitting above the golf course, but for many it is a major drawcard too. I’m talking about The Kinloch Club. New Zealand’s only Jack Niklaus-designed Signature Links course is home to a luxury lodge that certainly stands out from the crowd.
First off, The Lodge at the central lodge building is perched dramatically on the edge of the rolling hills high above the course and from the outside resembles a medieval castle that’s been given with a very modern whitewash. Architect Andrew Patterson took a few design cues from the property’s namesake Scottish Castle but has catapulted the structure into this century. From the distance, its stark and box-like exterior is quite imposing. Stroll up the drive, peer through the ‘gangway’ and you’ll soon realise this luxury lodge is anything but stark or boxy. Patterson and interior designer Virginia Fisher have come together to create a truly remarkable space.
A series of common lounge areas are connected by high ceilings, dramatic floor to ceiling windows, stunning lighting, leather couches, cowhide rugs and fox fur blankets. There’s copper, gold, silver, velvet, slate – design features border right on the edge OTT but it all works. Snuggle up in front of one of the many wood burning fireplaces with a glass of local wine and you will most certainly agree. There’s almost too many places you’ll want to settle in, whether it’s on a window seat/day bed that’s right up against the glass or the low seats perched right at the corner window, or the table for two sitting on a raised platform in the restaurant – they’re all equally grand spots to take in sweeping views of the manicured course below and the great Lake Taupo beyond.
The restaurant in particular is an excellent spot to spend some time. You’ll be marveling at much more than the view, with a team of chefs dedicated to taking the best of New Zealand’s bountiful produce to your plate. Many guests opt for a room rate that includes a degustation, strolling from pre-dinner drinks across the hall to the large dining room for a five course feast. Start with freshly baked ciabatta and a carrot and ginger soup, before moving on to the likes of cured salmon or smoked potato gnocchi. Mains often feature a meat from sister property Treetops Rotorua’s own livestock – think slow cooked Angus with roasted root vegetables and a glass of Martinborough pinot noir. Chocolate and peanut butter ‘bars’ are a sweet finish, and if you don’t have room for the cheese plate, the highly attentive team will send it straight to your villa fridge, perhaps for a late night treat.
Returning to your villa at the end of an evening to a flask of spiked hot chocolate and handmade truffles by the bed are the icing on the cake. The villas are much more minimalist than the lodge, taking laid back luxury to new levels. Think handmade New Zealand rugs, oak floors, deep freestanding bath tubs, high tech wood burning fireplaces and just a touch of tartan. The freestanding villas contain one and two bedroom suites, along with one bedroom junior suites. Tiered down the hillside, each is positioned to ensure it has a view to envy.
The early bird catches the worm, at least when it comes to golf, so serious golfers are up early to tee off with the sun, although more leisurely guests can pop down to the Club House to use the putting greens and driving range free of charge at any time. That’s after an a la carte breakfast – pastries, waffles, eggs, you name it. If golf isn’t your sport, grab one of the lodge’s mountain bikes for a ride down to the lake and around its leafy shores.
Whether you want to spend a few days by the fire, soaking up the view, or out exploring with a castle to come home to, The Kinloch Lodge should be on your bucket list now.