A luxury holiday can mean different things, depending on who you ask. But for our writers, it means an unforgettable experience and memories to treasure.
To me, luxury is quiet and space. Most importantly, big skies, preferably covered in stars; secondly, only the sounds of nature – wind and water, birds and brooks. So Minaret Station was my dream location. There are no roads you can drive to reach this luxurious lodge high above Wanaka, so I was picked up in Queenstown and choppered across Otago’s beautiful mustardy landscapes. The lodge sits in an ancient glacial valley 900m up. The showers and hot tubs are fed by a waterfall nearby. The service is unpretentious. There are just four cabins, an open bar full of winter warmers, a wonderful chef who uses what’s available to him. And a canopy of stars.
Keep your high thread counts and your all-day spa treatments. Nothing says luxury like a historic farmhouse that contains a gigantic room that exists for no other purpose than eating. Marlborough’s Rowley Estate Homestead has a superb kitchen and a cosy lounge, but it was the casually formal dining room that stole my heart. Chandeliers. A warm solid wood table. A room that demands 10 best friends for a long louche lunch and a late, late night – private chef optional and the best Marlborough wines an absolute given. In the morning, there are fresh pastries at the back door and a coffee pot on the stove. Bliss.
It’s the place I came to my senses as a bachelor and it’s the place where, almost exactly a year later, I got engaged. For those two reasons alone, Tauranga’s French Country House will always be special to me. As the name conjures, this is elegance of the highest order. With marble floors, chandeliers, throne-like dining chairs, claw-footed baths, spiral staircases and wonderful old wooden beams, it is arguably the most opulent accommodation option in the Tauranga region.
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