A crucial element of maintaining our collection of the world’s best luxury experiences means constantly reviewing and testing our hotels to ensure they are still meeting our standards. This is a costly and time rich activity which ensures we have our finger on the pulse of the luxury travel industry. As such our collection is constantly expanding in both directions. During our most recent trip to New Zealand we excluded five hotels and included one.
Philippe Kjellgren, President of Kiwi Collection and I headed to Christchurch to visit The George. The property is very well located, across from the lush North Hadley Park on the edge of the city. The building itself isn’t overly impressive but once you enter through the front doors a very stylish environment unfolds. The lobby has elegant couches for guests to relax, read newspapers or surf the internet. There is a bar-restaurant set up to enjoy quick snacks, coffee, tea or other refreshments. Their Italian Restaurant, Pescatore, is elegantly styled with views out toward the park and is considered one of the top dining experiences in Christchurch.
The new refurbished premium rooms are located on the fourth floor and are very well appointed. The other three floors are to be renovated this year.
Christchurch as a city isn’t overly exciting, in my books at least. It does have some charming architecture though, mainly found in the city centre. Interestingly enough, its main purpose for international travelers is access to the Antarctic!
We then headed to Otahuna Lodge roughly a 20 minute drive from the George. This property is the polar opposite situated in the countryside and is one of New Zealand’s most historical houses, built in 1895. The owners are a very well traveled and sophisticated couple from New York. I would highly recommend this property for intimate group gatherings or for a romantic weekend getaway. I particularly enjoy the fact they have their own organic vegetable garden.
The next hotel on our journey was the Grasmere Lodge High Country Retreat. The drive is spectacular and could easily be turned into a rally car circuit – lots of fun. The lodge itself is a nice four star experience. The staff are excellent and really passionate about guests and the beauty of their surroundings. The chef served an excellent duck confit prepared in front of a roaring fire on a rather chilly night in February.
I would recommend a stay of three nights and take advantage of activities such as fishing, hiking and horseback riding. Ask the co-owner Tom Butler to take you for a ride on top of the hill opposite the lodge so you can see the enormous mountains directly behind the property. Bring a camera.