Destination New Zealand … close your eyes and make a holiday wish. The chances are the New Zealand genies will appear to make it come true. It must be magic becomes it seems whatever it is you are looking for, New Zealand can deliver it in bucket-loads. Variety, versatility and diversity are commonplace and handed out freely to every visitor.
This also holds true for accommodation – budget conscious backpackers to highly discerning opulence seekers – all can take their pick. As might be expected of a land born from generations of pioneers and forward thinkers, New Zealand, as well as offering the more typically found accommodation types found everywhere, also offers some of its very own.
Jerry Bridge at Blanket Bay luxury lodge
Lodges of New Zealand are epitomised through the abundant choice them throughout the north and south island and boutique hotels (that word ’boutique’ in front of the word hotel is important). Now if the word ‘lodge’ makes you think of basic, rustic and Little Red Riding Hood then you have obviously never encountered the New Zealand lodge. (Incidentally, if your inclinations do lean to primitive and rustic then New Zealand has those too but they are usually called huts.) If the word ‘hotel’ conjures up images of comfortable but characterless rooms (identical bed linen, carpets, paint jobs, prints and tea and coffee making facilities) provided by large chain companies the world over then again, you have a treat in store because a boutique hotel is something else entirely.
Lodge and boutique hotel owners seem to have these things in common – they totally understand appreciation for idyllic, beautiful surroundings and have managed to bring to life their vision of creating somewhere full of ambience, charm and character giving a more intimate, personalised experience than that typically offered by standard hotels.
There are no hard and fast rules (and within the category of lodges/boutique hotels there are many variations) but typically they differ from standard hotels on many levels.
In order to achieve the charm and character they typify, lodges and boutique hotels are usually much smaller than regular hotels – large reception lobbies, neverending staircases, box like rooms and lifts are not generally found. Lodges and boutique hotels can have as few as two rooms which mean the overall feeling is one of greater intimacy – you’re not just one more faceless guest identified by your room number. Staying in a boutique lodge or hotel can seem more like staying with relatives (if you have any relatives of the rich/big house variety that is). Lodges offer something far more personal.
There may be some lodges situated in less picturesque settings but you might be hard pushed to find them. The words stunning and spectacular often appear in the same sentence when describing a lodge’s situation – lakeside, lapped by the ocean, surrounded by mountains, (insert here any scenery or location which makes you sigh) – and the adjectives are apt.
Hotels are often placed for convenience whereas lodges are designed to offer retreat, tranquillity and a step-back from the hustle and bustle. Even where they are found in the more popular beauty spots they are typically set in the secluded fringes.
Many lodges, in trying to create a more homely, personalised and intimate ambience have a communal lounge area which usually has a roaring log fire, large lounging sofas and chairs and libraries of books, movies, music and games or something else unique to that particular lodge.
Many lodges use this communal area to serve pre-dinner drinks or hors d’oevres, offering their small clientele the chance to mingle and meet fellow lodge dwellers.
Many lodges focus on a special interest or theme so that guests can choose a lodge which matches their own holiday priorities – fishing, hunting, meditation, golf, skiing, health/well-being, art and culture, adventure, fine dining. In fact, whatever floats you boat, enhances your holiday experience or helps you to fulfil your must-do/must-have getaway criteria. Not something you usually associate with a hotel we think.
This area is where lodges really come into their own and offer something rarely matched by your standard hotel. Lodges and extraordinary culinary experiences typically go hand in hand and meals are often part of the tariff.
Extras are what make a place memorable and lodges seem to work especially hard at this one. It could be something as simple as luxury toiletries, food or wine awaiting you in your room or it could be something your imagination hasn’t even conjured up yet.
What fulfils your criteria for super special – a massage in your room? A private balcony or courtyard? A personalised holiday itinerary created and delivered to you fait accompli (you just have to do the enjoying it bit)? A heli-tour? Whatever it is, there is a lodge somewhere in New Zealand which will deliver it.
Although it of course entirely depends on the hotel, there are definitely some places which make you feel awkward and troublesome if you ask for something. Lodges pride themselves on personal service and attention to your every need – it’s not an extra, it’s the standard.
Can you clearly remember the last few hotels you stayed in? Probably not – their characteristics tend to merge into one vague image. Transversely, ask anyone to describe a lodge or boutique hotel they have stayed in and happy, vivid memories just pour out. That says it all.
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