I think we can all agree that 2020 will be the year of change. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed, and will continue to change, life and business within the tourism industry on a global scale. We’re seeing, and personally experiencing, this ‘new world’ way of working – where being at home, in isolation - some with the kids running around, is the new business as usual.
Last week, following government advice in the fight against Covid-19, we temporarily closed our office in Queenstown. The benefit of doing what we do is we can do it from anywhere! Seven days into lockdown here in New Zealand and our team are now fully set up and working from home.
We’ve moved out the boardroom and taken our morning coffee chatter and meetings online, using Zoom, Trello and various other online platforms to stay connected, updated and ensuring our communications are as strong as ever. Our daily brainstorms have also moved from the office sofa to online (still from a sofa), getting our creativity and ideas flowing as well as that daily dose of daydreaming that we all need. Our Friday evening Cheers to FRIYAH are still in the team calendar – we know it’s as important now more than ever to enjoy our social time, a glass of wine and take the time to talk about the wins of the week- you’d be surprised how many there really are when you think about it!
Outside of keeping ‘business as usual’, the team are finding their feet in their new routines, taking on some healthy new habits and finding inspiration in their new home offices. With the team based between Queenstown and beautiful Matakana in the North Island, it’s safe to say we don’t have to look very far to feel inspired by the beauty in our backyard.
So, we’d like to take this opportunity to reassure our global clients and partners that although we are staying home, we are still very much here. It’s in times like this we need to think about what we CAN do, not what we can’t, and as always – the Touch of Spice team can do it all! We’re as online and on-call now as always, ensuring our current inhouse and future clients are taken care of from enquiry to departure.
We’re here to inspire you and remind you that we really are all in this together. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Linked In for daily updates and give yourself that well needed (and deserved) daily dose of daydreaming. From all the Touch of Spice team – we hope to see you soon!
It’s February which means one thing – it’s the season to celebrate love!
Valentine’s day is a day to show love to someone special. Whether you’re married, engaged, dating or single, treat your other half or yourself to a day you won’t forget.
Leave the supermarket flowers where you find them and use February as the month to have an experience of a lifetime. Getaway for that romantic weekend you’ve been promising each other or take the plunge and go off the grid in a well-deserved trip of self-love - Why shop at Hallmark when you can check out some of the South Pacific’s hidden gems?
So here we have it – the perfect Valentines gifts for the both the romantics and the singles, those looking to pop that special questions and those looking to answer their own, experiences of a lifetime to share with your other half, amazing friends or to keep all for yourself!
Go off the grid and venture into the wilderness of the Ahuriri Valley at The Lindis. Sleep in a mirrored glass pod under the stars, be in awe of nature and getaway from the stresses of the everyday. Discover the Valley by day and relax in your own private hot tub as the sunsets – the perfect retreat to take that shared time or that well deserved you time.
Stay in one of our exclusive Residence Collection homes Cascata, only a stone throw from stunning Queenstown. Take the plunge during the day (proposal or bungy!), discover iconic Queenstown and relax in the evening at the entertainer’s paradise that is Cascata. Sink a glass of bubbles with friends on the rooftop terrace before hitting the town or sink into the hot tub with a glass of local pinot noir with your other half – perfect for getting the gang together or escaping with your one and only.
Take off from Queenstown and get taken above and beyond in a scenic flight to the awe-inspiring Milford Sound. Soar over the waterfalls, peaks and tourists below before landing on a rugged West Coast beach. From the coast you'll fly to a mountain top peak for a gourmet picnic - lunch with a side of once-in-a-lifetime views. Enjoy the picture postcard landscape overlooking the dramatic landscape and say cheers to you, the view and the special person/ people around you.
The ultimate getaway for just the two of you or a small group of your best girlfriends – our Wellness and Wine short break has everything a weekend away would need. Rise and shine to yoga on the terrace, indulge in chef prepared meals and savour and sip some of the finest wine from some of Central Otago’s most exclusive wineries. This short break is as good for the soul as it is for making memories with those you love.
Let us help you make memories and create those unforgettable moments that you’ll talk about for years to come this Valentines Day. Get in touch of our team today – we’re experts in wrapping up gifts of a lifetime!
America’s Cup expert and New Zealand’s top luxury travel and experience curators join forces to launch the Larry Keating & Friends America’s Cup project; curated by Touch of Spice, Love My New Zealand and Larry Keating himself.
Setting the scene for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021
Around the table they thrash out course expectations, unique waterside venues, an epicurean kiwi lunch menu and which vineyards are best - combined with all important aspects, such as how jet lag is going to affect guests who have travelled from the other side of the world, to be here for the sporting spectacular that is the 36th America’s Cup. Together, Jacqui Spice, Sharon Stewart and Larry Keating are setting the scene for sailing lovers worldwide, travelling to Auckland in 2021.
Welcoming sailors with open arms
From December 2020 through to March 2021 they will be working with individual travellers, couples, groups and yacht clubs from around the world to ensure they make the most of their time in New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup. Together, they are curating unique and unrivalled experiences, both on the ground and out on the water. From touching down, to settling into luxury beachside accommodation, to setting sail as part of (what will undoubtedly be) Auckland’s most dazzling sailing event to date.
Our aim? Cutting through the noise with real, tangible & authentic experiences
As a team they have an unrivalled passion for both New Zealand and the America’s Cup - the excitement, the nerves, the challenge, the fear, the adulation, the joy and the thrill of world-class competition. Together, they want to carefully curate how the world experiences this event, showcasing luxury Auckland, our people and our culture, whilst celebrating some of the greatest maritime history around the world.
What does a day with Larry Keating & Friends look like?
Start the day exploring Auckland’s famous fish markets with your own private guide, before lunch at a mystery venue, paired with wine from Waiheke Island’s nearby Man O’War Bay vineyard. Head out for an afternoon of America’s Cup action, with exclusive viewing access, guided by our experienced skippers, on board historic round the world racing yachts (Steinlager 2 & Lion NZ) from the New Zealand Sailing Trust. End the day unwinding, sipping on a G&T as the sun goes down. Dine with Larry Keating as he gives you a private viewing of one of his incredible films, screened in an intimate boatshed, on your own private beach.
It's not just about the sailors…
Collectively, they are offering accommodation and experiences for every kind of sailor coming to New Zealand, including those who may be more interested in sitting and sipping on a glass of Waiheke’s finest than sitting out on the rail, feeling the ocean spray! They are ready for travellers wanting everything from a sprinkle of race days amongst an orchestrated North Island itinerary, to getting out on the water and in on the race action every day.
The depth of the experience
This partnership is about bringing Auckland and the America’s Cup to life in a way only they know how; through the warmth of the nation, hospitality of the city, with off-grid experiences, incredible places to stay, local delicacies to try and people to meet - resulting in an experience unrivalled by other providers.
Experts in every field - from sailing to sundowners...
Curating these America’s Cup journeys with a collaborative approach ensures each stay is curated by experts in their field. From unrivalled luxury accommodation and destination management with Touch of Spice, to incredible hands-on experiences curated by Sharon Stewart (Love My New Zealand), and exclusive and insightful time with an America’s Cup expert – Larry Keating. Together, the team are looking forward to intricately weaving their uniquely in-depth America’s Cup experiences into the thrill of a stay in the world-class host city.
Want to know more about our experts?
About Larry Keating
- Larry Keating is well known in America's Cup circles and for his award-winning book 'Exposed – The Dark Side of The America’s Cup' nominated as one of the Best Books for 2018 by Yachting Year.
- Having travelled the world extensively for over 40 years, ten of those sailing around the Mediterranean with wife Deborah in their yacht Chinano, Larry is a passionate yachtsman who built a strong interest in America’s Cup history, working at various levels in the international sports media, from photography to broadcasting.
- Larry’s experience has taken him to ten America’s Cup events, two Olympic Games and found him crewing in the 1989/90 Whitbread Around the World Race.
- As a film producer/raconteur, Larry has interviewed some of the world’s most famous characters; Olympic sports stars and Hollywood actors to Nelson Mandela.
- A true-blue Kiwi, Larry's knowledge of New Zealand is vast, having lived and travelled the length and breadth of the country.
About Us and Jacqui Spice
- With a background in super yachts, Managing Director & Founder Jacqui Spice is a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist, a Virtuoso Preferred Partner and an Ultraluxe Community member.
- Touch of Spice have been specialising in bespoke experiences, boutique luxury accommodation, and customized destination management across New Zealand, Australia and Fiji since 2005.
- Their portfolio of luxury accommodation is a handpicked collection of premium holiday homes, private residences, boutique hotels and exclusive lodges. Their tailored services include a personal travel designer to organise whatever clients may desire.
- Jacqui and her team strive to ensure every moment spent on a Touch of Spice itinerary becomes a lifelong memory.
About Love My New Zealand
- Love My New Zealand are simply put - all about the experience. Curators of the most amazing activities, Sharon, the director's relationships and networks mean behind the scenes access to some of the most incredible things to do, more so that any guidebook norm.
- Each experience is designed around the guest as no two people are the same.
- You can paint with an Auckland artist in the morning and listen to the only living Maori art historian in the world whilst a private chef cooks up a storm in his studio.
- Drive the back country of Auckland going from black sand beaches to deep lush rainforest in Range Rovers and make handmade pizza dough overlooking the ocean.
- You can stay overnight on a sailing vessel and sleep in Sir Peter Blake's bunk after a BBQ on a white sandy beach as the wind gently moves the main sail back and forth under the stars.
Press & Contact Details
For more information on accommodation options, packages and experiences please contact:
For press enquiries, images and to find out more contact:
A wellness weekend with The Luxury Network, Hyoumankind and Touch of Spice
This Spring The Luxury Network New Zealand sent out special invitations to a number of lucky ladies giving them the opportunity to escape reality for a night and get away with Touch of Spice and new wellness brand Hyoumankind. Photographer Tatiana Skorik came along and snapped some beautiful shots of us enjoying champagne on the deck overlooking the ocean, dinner cooked by Des Harris and Hyoumankind's beautiful new wellness products.
Muriwai Estate – an escape to end all escapes, just a stone's throw from Auckland
The night away from the hustle and bustle of city life took place at Muriwai Estate – part of The Residence Collection by Touch of Spice – a portfolio of exclusive use luxury homes across New Zealand. Muriwai Estate is just a 40-minute drive or 15 minute helicopter ride from Auckland City Centre. It is the dream location for multi-generational getaways, product launches, photoshoots, filming or events for up to 100 people.
Our partners at Hyoumankind
Guests were met by a glass of champagne by Jacqui Spice, Sofia Ambler from The Luxury Network and Steph Wyborn from Hyoumankind – a wellness company who have recently launched their pioneering set of pillows that help you get the most out of life – both whilst awake and whilst you are resting.“Asleep or awake, when your body is supported and comfortable you are poised to get the most out of life.”
Hyounmankind started with the aim of helping you to sleep soundly, wake up feeling fresh and ready to get the most out of your day, every day. Hyoumankind combine design with science to build the best shape for you to rest your head and relax. Their range extends from smaller travel sized pillows to specialist support pillows for different areas of your body.
Dinner with Hunting Lodge Chef - Des Harris
After time to relax, unwind and shake off a week of work, the ladies were treated to a seasonal al-fresco three course dinner cooked by Des Harris – ex fine-dining chef and Head Chef at the nearby Hunting Lodge Winery. The food was incredible!
Breakfast and morning yoga overlooking the wild west coast
After a quiet night of rest, the wellness break concluded with a morning yoga session overlooking the wild west coast of New Zealand and a delicious breakfast. A little escape from city life just a stone's throw from Auckland!
It was brilliant partnering with our friend Sofia Ambler at The Luxury Network New Zealand and we can’t want to see what Hyoumankind has in store over the coming years. Having tried one of their pillows, we’re sleeping better already!
Spice up your Spring with a Short Break by Touch of Spice
Whether it’s a celebration or simply a good old excuse to get together with friends and family, our exclusive villas combined with experiences only available to you on a Touch of Spice break, will have you making memories in no time.
Be inspired with our exclusive Short Breaks
Need some inspiration? Peer into wine barrels at an exclusive cellar door not open to the public, enjoy a day in the Southern Alps that’ll take you from fish to fork and farm to table all in a day, with plenty of action along the way. Check out our new series of Short Breaks exclusive to Touch of Spice to inspire you. The best part? Combine these packages with one of the villas in this offer and receive one nights accommodation free - read on to find out more.
Stay for 4 Nights and only Pay for 3 Nights
Save up to 25% this Spring on bookings of four nights or more (terms and conditions apply*).
- Book a 4 night stay & only pay for 3 nights
- Book an 8 night stay & only pay for 6 nights
- Book a 12 night stay & only pay for 9 nights
What homes can I book?
This offer applies only applies to certain homes in our Private Villa Collection which you can view here.
When can I book this offer?
Book any time between 1st August and 27th November 2019.
When can I stay if I book this offer?
To stay any time between 1st September and 30th November 2019.
The (not so) small print
Here are our full Terms & Conditions of the offer.
- Applicable to certain villas only in our Private Villa Collection
- Offer applies to bookings made directly with Touch of Spice or via a travel agent
- Only applies to bookings of four nights or more. Every fourth night is free
- Applies to bookings made between 1st August 2019 and 27th November 2019
- Applies to stays between 1st September 2019 to 30 November 2019
- All bookings are subject to availability and our standard terms and conditions for villa rentals apply
- We will provide our standard terms and conditions at the time of bookings
Sink into tranquility in the spa or smash through the silence and bomb in the pool – this private Italian-inspired oasis is all yours.
We are thrilled to introduce and announce that the stunning Ataahua Lodge is the latest addition to our Residence Collection.
A touch of Amalfi - just outside Tauranga
Only 25 kilometres from Tauranga Airport, enter through the wrought iron gates and drive the palm lined drive towards the villa. A natural oasis to unwind, relax and accept carpe diem.
Lined with world-class artworks, antiques and venetian furniture, fall into an Italian inspired world where family, food and beauty form the heart of the home.
Aperitivo on the terrace? Buon appetito
An open gourmet kitchen leads to the living area and onto the first of the two dining rooms. A step further takes you to large bifold doors leading outside. Enjoy alfresco antipasto or tear apart a pizza from the woodfired oven with the family.
A hideaway for adults and children alike
Feeling fancy? Indulge in a chef-prepared meal in the formal antique dining room before following the curved staircase down to the wine cellar and tasting room. Let the children wind down with a movie in the cinema while you sip a digestivo or glass of New Zealand’s finest.
A dreamlike spot for morning coffee
Ataahua has a total of six suites spread between two floors as well as the separate Pavilion. Sink into the plush beds that all feature views of the luscious grounds. Separate from the main villa is The Pavilion – a private sanctuary with ocean views where rolling out of bed will feel better than ever.
Do you prefer to drink your bubbles or sink into them?
From the bedroom to bathroom – whether you choose to drink your bubbles or sink into them, let the mind unwind as you gaze into the gardens and accept feelings of la bella vita (… the good life).
Let them dream of adventure
The spacious shared room is lined with motorbikes and surfboards letting the imagination run wild. Travelling with entourage or friends? The guest suite has a lounge, bathroom, kitchenette and is separate from the main house – the key to privacy.
Step outside into your own private oasis
In the private pavilion, a step beyond the villa, wake up in a secluded oasis. As the sunrise pours through the terrace doors, take in the picturesque garden and ocean views – mornings you can’t wait to wake up to. No bad thing when you have a hot yoga studio, adjoining gym and walks with endless sea views.
Roll out of bed into a whatever activity takes your fancy
Roll out of bed and straight into an active day. The private gym, tennis court and bikram yoga studio will get you working up a sweat before jumping in the pool.
Alfresco dining with a difference
A real taste of Italy – prepare, bake and enjoy your own pizza straight from the outdoor oven, served with a glass of wine from the cellar. New Zealand meets Italy - Alfresco dining just like at Nonna’s house in Verona.
Submerge yourself in stillness
Float into tranquillity and get lost in the clouds - an afternoon soak in the spa pool will calm the mind and relax the body. Or feel like smashing through the stillness and bombing in the pool? Go ahead – it’s your space after all.
Get competitive and find your champion
Singles or doubles? Get your whites on and battle it out in your own Ataahua Tennis Open. Observe from the side-lines before sinking some hoops on the basketball court – a tournament to keep everyone entertained.
Tropical gardens just a stones throw away
Take a tour or meander through the tropical gardens and discover the botanical variety. With world-class artworks placed throughout the gardens and villa, explore the local Maori art and sculptures on display.
Touch of Spice CEO Jacqui Spice has been awarded Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Travel Specialist’ accolade for the third year running, following six previous accolades.
We’re thrilled our CEO and Founder Jacqui has been named a ‘Top Travel Specialist’ by Condé Nast Traveler for the third consecutive year. This marks the seventh occasion Jacqui has been acknowledged by Condé Nast Traveler for her unparalleled knowledge and talent when it comes to promoting and managing luxury villas throughout New Zealand.
What goes into becoming a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist?
This accolade is awarded to Travel Specialists who have a uniquely in-depth understanding of the area they curate and promote, offering travellers and agents alike the best advice available.
At Touch of Spice we spend our time working hard, curating luxury stays and most importantly bringing these stays to life, through unique experiences and little ‘touches’ that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. At our Queenstown office our team of Travel Designers work with Jacqui to turn ordinary journeys to New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific into memorable experiences.
A note from Jacqui
“I feel incredibly privileged to be presented with this award for the seventh time. My team and I spend our days doing whatever we can to bring our client’s requests to life in ways they never thought possible. We strive to ensure every moment we have a hand in creating, becomes a memory that lasts a lifetime, and so it’s wonderful to be recognised (once again) for the service we provide.”
About Condé Nast Traveler
Condé Nast Traveler are the self-proclaimed leaders of news on all things travel, driving the most up-to-date and engaging updates on the travel industry, through both their printed magazine, expertly curated daily emails and enthralling online articles.
What is a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist?
Only a select few are given this admirable accolade, awarded to whom they deem “the right experience maker” who “will intuit your desires before you even know what they are — then they’ll make them happen.” – Paul Brady and Christine Cantera, Condé Nast.
At Touch of Spice we embody this notion on a daily basis. We want you to run down the hallways, bomb in the pool and generally make the most of what our private escapes can offer. Despite representing some of the most incredible and exclusive properties in the region, we know it’s not about the accommodation itself. Although exquisite spaces, with unique levels of luxury, escapism and privacy are of course crucial – it’s ultimately about the experiences and the memories created – that we hope will last long beyond the journey home.
A couple of weeks ago a few of our team were invited to spend a night at Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Estate and Eco Sanctuary, a beautiful luxury lodge located just 20 minutes outside Wanaka.
Whilst being so close to the Wanaka township, the lodge feels incredibly remote with no one else in sight (aside from the sheep!). Upon arrival to the lodge we were all blown away by the expansive views over the stunning green landscape and out over Lake Wanaka, taken advantage of by the large floor to ceiling windows in the main lodge area.
The lodge is relatively small, with only four main suites, and another kids bunk room which can be used if the lodge is taken exclusively. Each of the luxuriously appointed suites are different styles and offer outlooks in different and equally beautiful directions, our favourite had to be the Master Suite ‘Tui’, with it’s large open shower room and copper bathtub looking out over the mountains, how relaxing!
The lodge manager Anna and host Chris really make the experience fantastic, they are so welcoming and knowledgeable about the local area. The food we had for dinner and breakfast was so delicious, made with local fresh produce, and they had a great selection of local wines to go with this.
In the morning we went for a walk down to the Stables, these are a short walk from the main lodge and are the most stunning stables any of us have ever seen!
Mahu Whenua is a fantastic place to just kick back and relax, and equally a great place to get out and explore the expansive property. You can enjoy hiking from the property, or a helicopter can land right outside and take you on one of many heli hikes in the region. One thing that really stood out for us which is a great option for those active people, is that you can pick up e-bikes in Arrowtown, Queenstown and cycle to the property, there are trails the whole way.
Thank you to the team at Mahu Whenua for hosting us and creating a truly memorable experience for us on this beautiful property!
The idea of uplifting your family and moving to the other side of the world for 3 months used to be daunting and unrealistic. Times have thankfully now changed.
With new direct flight routes between the US and New Zealand, along with infrastructure developments allowing guests access to hi-speed internet so they can stay in top of things ‘back home’, we have seen a large growth in the number of families looking to visit New Zealand for an extended period of time.
New Zealand has long been a popular destination for family travel. It is seen as a safe place to visit, and offers such a diverse range of experiences. Families can base themselves in places such as Queenstown or Wanaka, and then explore the rest of the country on ‘getaways’.
Queenstown is particularly popular for this, and our range of private villas are ideally suited for families wanting to a ‘home away from home’ for a period of time. Local schools also allow for short-term international enrolments as the seasonal nature of the region (for example the winter ski season) often sees workers only in the area for a few months.
The time difference between New Zealand and the US also means that you can wake up, have breakfast, and then jump on a Skype call with the East or West Coast before they finish their business day. After that, how about doing a couple of hours working online before taking the family on a walk around a beautiful alpine lake?
For families that want to visit multiple countries, it’s an easy 3 and a ½ hour flight to either Australia or Fiji from New Zealand, with fantastic family villa options in both, so why not look at an entire South Pacific experience over a period of several months.
If you have been thinking about taking the family on a sabbatical but not sure what the accommodation options are, the Touch of Spice team are here to help!
Last week I was invited to experience the ultimate in ice driving at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds (SPHG).
Having recently being awarded "international proving ground of the year" verifying their status as a world leading testing ground, I knew I was in for a real treat! And fun fact - top automobile manufacturers secretly go here to test their cars!
‘Let the drifting begin’ I said!
Feeling very excited (but in a butterflies floating inside me kind of way) I drove up to the site to be met by stunning views of the valley and sheets of snow. We were each thrown a set of keys that unlocked a luxury Audi that was to be slid across the immaculately groomed mountain environment. The moment of truth.
Luckily, I wasn’t completely left to my own devices though. Via radio, we received expert tuition from industry leading race car drivers talking us through challenges such as the giant slalom and snow drift circle – it truly was an unbelievable experience!
It’s an adrenaline must do, the feeling of being in a Fast & Furious movie set is unbeatable… and I have the videos & photos to prove it all.
And yes, I did ask but and you can’t take the Audi home.