Discover the perfect things to do in summer.
I've been fortunate enough to have spent the last few weeks in both the South and North Islands of New Zealand, and it's been great to see that the long awaited summer has arrived! Queenstown For us Kiwis, we all seem to be saying that these are the summers we remember from when we were kids; hot days, warm seas, blue skies and warm evenings - and the great news it that there is still more of it to come!
So what`s hot in NZ this summer?
The "Hamptons" of New Zealand continues to be a popular spot. Filled with beautiful people staying in beautiful houses and relaxing on beautiful beaches, Waiheke is the go to destination. The spot I`ve seen most regularly frequented on Waiheke this summer? Stonyridge Vineyard (something about the food and wine?). Our favourite places to stay here are Oneroa Vineyard and Hei Matau.
Beaches of the Coromandel
Ever popular with Kiwis looking for that laid back `bach` style holiday is the Coromandel region. We have a place in Opoutere and the beach is so beautiful and isolated. Many of my friends and associates frequent hot spots such as Cooks Beach, Ha Hei, Matarangi and Whangamata. This is the "fish and chips on the beach" capital of New Zealand.
Bay of Islands
I think the Bay of Islands has had the most consistently amazing weather this summer and many a friend was seen sailing, swimming and dining out at the Duke of Marlborough. My fav places in the Bay of Islands to stay are Eagles Nest, Otaha Beach and Tahapuke. Beautiful places to enjoy a cold Chardonnay on the deck overlooking the ocean.
Grab your kayak and your walking shoes and head out through the Abel Tasman. The weather is pretty much bang on every day and the natural beauty of the region can keep you active for days. Our favourite place to stay in the Abel Tasman is Split Apple Retreat and the Bay of Many Coves.
I can`t help but mention Queenstown. The weather has been incredible down south all summer - blue clear skies and warm weather resulting in bustling wineries, hot air ballooning, sky diving and paddle boarding on the regions many lakes. There are so many favourite places to stay here we can`t really choose one but our two top ones this summer have been the Lodge at The Hills and our very own Copper House.
To help take pain away from going back to work!
Going back to work after the holidays is always a struggle. But remember you can always take a long weekend to recharge, here are some of my favourites which we have arranged for clients.
The Bay of Islands
Accommodation Recommendation: Tahapuke, located on the Russell Waterfront, is a hidden treasure of peace, privacy and amazing ambiance in the Bay of Islands.
Water: The Bay of Islands has the warmest waters in New Zealand, making it the perfect location for swimming with dolphins. If you are looking for something a bit dryer enjoy a day or overnight sailing charter.
Land: Golf and Spa at Kauri Cliffs followed by a well-deserved 3 course lunch.
Live like a local in Arrowtown
Accommodation Recommendation: Arrow Cottage
Land: Wild Earth for lunch and delicious tasting session of some of their finest Pinot Noir and Rose. Follow on with an evening at the quaint Dorothy Browns art-house cinema with dinner at La Rumbla - all only 5 minutes from Arrow Cottage. Spa and golf at Millbrook which is only 5 minutes down the road too.
Air: Discover the Exclusive Earnslaw Heli trip
Accommodation Recommendation: Hawke`s Bay Haven
Land: Golf at Cape Kidnappers, cycle the Hawke`s Bay wine trail, have lunch at Craggy Range and enjoy the Farmers Market at Black Barn. A full food & wine experience!
Accommodation Recommendation: Bridgeview Luxury Apartment
Water: Enjoy a fully chartered sail to Waiheke Island and explore the island for the day or night depending on how you feel.
Land: Britomart will always keep you entertained!
Accommodation Recommendation: Bay of Many Coves
Water: Take the stunning Greenshell Mussel & Sauvignon Cruise through the Marlborough Sounds
Land: Enjoy a garden wine afternoon lunch at Herzog Estate Winery followed by a trip to the Aviation Heritage Museum or continue on the Marlborough wine cycle trail!
Here are many benefits to staying in a villa versus a hotel or a lodge
There are many benefits to staying in a villa versus a hotel or a lodge - you have more space, you have privacy, you can find affordable villas that cater to a larger family (trust me when we travel it’s hard to find hotels that don’t charge the earth for 5 of us!) and a lot of villas have all the luxuries of a hotel. Well, at least the villas in our Touch of Spice Private Villa Collection do!
I`ve travelled recently to Bali to check out the villa scene there and it`s pretty impressive.
A lot of the add on`s are very affordable such as in-house chefs and masseuses, but after test driving a few of their villas I am pretty proud of what we offer here at Touch of Spice.
I thought I`d highlight what you get when you stay at a Touch of Spice Villa:
- Personal service and attention to detail from the moment of enquiry through to your check out
- World Class Villas with 24/7 on-call concierges
- A dedicated Travel Curator to help you plan every aspect of your trip
- A personal meet & greet on arrival accompanied by a fresh coffee or a glass o fwine while we chat through your arrangements and orientate you with the Villa
- Bathroom amenities, linen & towels
- Mid stay cleans with the option of daily house keeping if you prefer
- WiFi (very important for the modern day traveller!)
- Commercially cleaned and beautifully presented Villas with an in-house cleaning team on call
- Tea & Coffee making facilities
We have also come up with a complete list of Villa "Add On`s" to make your experience even better.
For an extra fee you can add on airport transfers, car hire, in-house chefs, catering, provisioning, in-house beauty treatments, in-house massage, a mini bar selection, private drivers, private tours, private guides, the list is endless.
There is nothing we can`t arrange for you to make your stay in one of our villas complete.
Contact us today to book your Touch of Spice villa experience.
As a Top Villa Specialist for the third year running, Jacqui is currently attending the Cond? Nast Travel Specialist Summit in the USA.
Hosted by the editors of the prestigous American Cond? Nast Traveler magazine, the annual Summit brings together 133 travel magicians, who spend time discussing what they`re seeing in the travel industry and sharing their knowledge about the destinations they know so well.
The Summit is being held at the wonderful Terranea Resort in California.
Learn more about the Summit and what this select few of top Travel Specialists are up to at the Cond? Nast Traveler Truth in Travel site - http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2012/02/Sunrise-from-California#
We hosted UK journalist Mark O'Flaherty at the Lordens Penthouse recently.
Mark, the design and travel writer and photographer for UK publications such as the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, Elle, The Guardian, Esquire and Tatler, tweeted on arrival -
Why not book to stay at Lordens Penthouse and you too can enjoy the view!
We were delighted to host Ali WIlliams and his beautiful bride Casey Green at Southerly after their recent nuptials in Queenstown.
Southerly is a fabulously exclusive and private home located just outside central Queenstown with wonderful lake and mountain views.
"Southerly was the perfect accommodation for us to relax and unwind in post our Queenstown wedding. There was plenty of space for us and our friends and the views were breath-taking - so much so we felt like we were on top of a mountain overlooking the beauty of the lake. We had complete privacy throughout our stay and it was a sanctuary for us to relax and unwind in after our wedding day and over New Years."
Ali Williams and Casey Green
Photo: Courtesy of New Zealand`s Woman`s Weekly - Ross Coffey and Todd Eyre
New Zealand has just got better ??? look where you can experience Touch of Spice throughout New Zealand now.
Jacqui Spice is featured in the following article in Business pages of the New Zealand Herald talking about assisting discerning travellers and clients in New Zealand.
Jacqui Spice, the founder of luxury concierge business Touch of Spice Group, gets to see how the other half lives. In fact she takes the next step - she figures out how they might like to live and then sets about making it happen while they are in New Zealand.
Named one of AmericanConde Nast Traveller`s Top Travel Specialists for 2011, Spice started her career on super yachts in her 20s, based in the Bahamas and Europe. Her work then, as now, was about sourcing and supplying whatever her clients needed. She still remembers organising the transport of a specific pot of yoghurt on a jet from New York to Croatia for a United States client. "That was an expensive pot of yoghurt," she says.
It was a world where "expectations were very high and nobody took no for an answer", she says.
Spice set up Touch of Spice in 2005. She had been working as the general manager of customer service at The Spire Hotel in Queenstown and had heard numerous complaints from overseas visitors that they couldn`t get any response from tourism operators after 5pm.
Spice`s initial business model for Touch of Spice was to work for a handful of clients from her home. Her mission statement for the business was and is: "We are 24/7, we think outside the box and never say no."
View the full article on our Media pages.
Award-winning agent hosts high-flyers...
Making sure a professional table tennis player is on hand for a quick game or re-enacting waka arriving in New Zealand are just some of the things an Auckland travel agent has done for her well-heeled clients - and her personal touch has seen her win a prestigious accolade.
Jacqui Spice, owner of Touch of Spice, has been selected as a "top travel specialist" for 2011 by American Conde Nast Traveler magazine for her knack in pulling off the impossible for her clients.
From the ordinary - well, if being taken out on a luxury launch before a chef cooks fresh crayfish counts as ordinary - to the absurd, Spice`s company goes out of the way to make sure clients experience "the real New Zealand, with a twist of luxury".
"We cater for the discerning middle to high-end client and make sure their holiday is personalised and that there is always someone on call with our concierge service.
"So, we don`t just arrange champagne on a mountain top - we`ll even add music. We`ll get a soloist or even a classical duet. Or we`ll arrange for them to hit golf balls from the top of The Remarkables. If they want to see a re-enactment of the waka arriving in New Zealand, we`ll arrange that too."
Spice won`t reveal her client list, but says some are often in the media spotlight while others are wealthy clients the public may have never heard of. And it really is about pulling off the impossible.
"We had a client who needed us to take the temperature of his bath water every day to make sure it was perfect. We also had to make sure the water cylinder`s temperature was exactly the same every day," she said of one client who stayed in a luxury villa in Queenstown for three months.
"We also had to fly him every day by helicopter to the local events centre so that he could play table tennis and we also had to arrange a table tennis professional to play with him."
The holidays with specialised itineraries created by the Touch of Spice team can start at $10,000 and even hit the $200,000 mark for two stops, which would generally include Auckland and another destination such as the Bay of Islands, Taupo or Queenstown.
And the price tag means no request is too big for Spice and her team. Some of those include taking photographs of employees lying on beds so the client can inspect the firmness of the mattress from afar, as well as photographing fruit so clients can inspect the colour to arranging a black Bentley to chauffeur clients from one vineyard to the next.
The cost will also factor in whether the clients travel by private jet, use a helicopter or need a ride in a limousine through the snow from Christchurch Airport to Queenstown in the early hours of the morning when airlines aren`t operating.
Touch of Spice has offices in Auckland and Queenstown and 15 staff who oversee personalised holidays, corporate functions, villa stays and weddings, and provide a 24/7 concierge service.
The Conde Nast accolade has boosted the company with the team adding a wider portfolio of luxury villas in France and Australia.
"It`s absolutely fantastic to be a niche operator and to be recognised by an international group. I started the company six years ago from home, so to be recognised among the best makes me very proud," Spice said.
This is the fourth year Spice has been recognised by the magazine - she has also been named a "top villa specialist" in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
www.stuff.co.nz Auckland Now
We are delighted to announce that Jacqui Spice, founder of Touch of Spice, as been named as a Top Villa Specialist in the Cond? Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist Collection for 2011.
This prestigious American travel magazine, which is synonymous for all things excellent in the travel industry, has been conducting this quest annually for the past 12 years. Thousands of travel agents and providers were researched with 133 being chosen from around the world. http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/travel-specialists
While the criteria for selection aren`t listed, it appears that Cond? Nast Traveler is looking for people who can pull the impossible off for their clients because of their connections and reputation, making them the best in the world.
Ms Spice says she is thrilled with the award, not only for herself and her company but for what it means for New Zealand also.
"Awards and endorsements from Cond? Nast Traveler carry huge prestige with influential people on where they should travel to next. Our client base is predominantly Australians and New Zealanders so this award will help us grow our European and American clients immensely."
Jacqui has received awards from Cond? Nast Traveler before, being named as one of their "Top Villa Specialists" in the world in 2009, 2010 and 2011: she is the only New Zealander to have been awarded this accolade.