This, again, is not an easy question to answer. Even after 20 years in the business of focusing just on New Zealand we still don't have enough time to get around and vet what's out there.
Starting with the obvious for the luxury end, even luxury lodges aren't that simple a sub-category. We've been on the phone with some clients asking us about excellent lodges like Cape Kidnappers, whose marketing reach is certainly impressive, and they've decided not to stay there once they have understood that the model is that of a US Country Club. They have instead opted for a true New Zealand icon like Greenhill Lodge pictured above, superbly managed by the very clever, connected and experienced John Dick. Then there are several other offerings in that same geographic area which are all very well run ranging from luxury bed and breakfasts, luxury apartments, and luxury villas. And then hidden gems which most people would think are 3-4 star like the Masonic Hotel, which is wonderfully positioned in town and owned and run by the highly sophisticated previous owners of Greenhill. And then some places in that same geographic area have changed radically over the years with changes of management. That just gives you a small idea of one small region of the country. Replicate that complexity across 16-odd regions and that's the size of your research task.
Some other people have been indoctrinated by friends or marketing that luxury lodges are the only place to stay. That's certainly an interesting if limited perspective which we go into detail in another article here. Basically, we recommend variety - although for some people going from lodge to lodge fits their requirements.
Like everything which we see in a true custom business with real expertise (and this should come as no surprise as the same is true of every other luxury segment from handbags to high heels) - the answer depends very much on the person asking the question. One size simply does not fit all. I'm continuously surprised at how many times I've had to repeat this obvious statement over the years.
We have never had so much choice in New Zealand luxury accommodation. What I'm really excited about at the moment is those little boutique properties hosted by intelligent owners who know exactly where to put what on the piece of land they're living on. What does this mean? Often, a rustic shed with a phenomenal view and interiors which could feature in House & Garden together with an outside bathtub. Often got wrong by people who just don't have the touch, when you find one which hits the spot perfectly it's simply heavenly. For me, locals putting together their piece of paradise with a deft hand are the new luxury - the overdone formal lodge with expensive decor and semi-trained foreign staff just doesn't do the job as well. We are behind in getting around these lovely little places as it takes a lot of time to see everything and we've had our hands tied by lockdown rules.
One of the things people say after a trip with us is that they really enjoyed the variety of different accommodation types we arranged for them. So we know that our clients at least enjoy the variety. I'm still not sure who out there might not enjoy variety? So our advice is not to get funneled into a particular way of thinking. Keep searching for that right option which hits the right sweet spot in every region you wish to explore. And don't get fooled into believing you have to pay enormous sums for every single night of your stay in New Zealand.
Read more in these associated articles: