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Providing you with the inside word on the newest and most exciting luxury travel experiences around New Zealand and the world, along with keeping you informed of our updates, travel tips, and upcoming events.

Why the South Pacific is the ideal sabbatical destination

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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!

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Top 5 Luxury Stays worthy of a Royal Visit

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Meghan and Harry have officially landed on New Zealand soil!

To toast their arrival, we’ve compiled a list of our very favourite luxury stays, worthy of a royal visit.

Lodge at The Hills

With privacy and security being of absolute paramount, Lodge at The Hills’ secluded setting on The Hills golf course perfectly combines the two. Add to this its outstanding art collection, one-of-a-kind sculpture tour and range of premium inclusions and you have something very special indeed.

Alan Pye Cottage - Huka Lodge

Epitomising the sophisticated elegance of the English Art & Crafts movement, Meghan and Harry would certainly be at home in this luxurious cottage. Faultlessly designed and boasting a cosy and intimate atmosphere it’s an idyllic home to retreat to. 

Wharekauahu Country Estate

Positioned on the southern-most tip of the North Island. Wharekauhau provides the perfect base for a tour of both islands. A firm favourite for royalty, dignitaries and celebrities, Wharekauhau’s location on a 5,000 acre working farm provides guests with the ability to unplug from it all and embrace a more laid back lifestyle. 

The Cooper Residence

The Cooper Residence provides the ‘wow’ factor in every corner! Seamlessly blending luxurious furnishings with fascinating Maori artefact's and historic artwork; giving an entirely unique experience. It has jaw dropping coastal views, a private beach, and they even produce their very own wine – what more could they ask for!

Split Apple Retreat

The perfect place to relax and recharge after a long tour. This intimate luxury lodge perfectly combines premium accommodation and wellness. Guests can spend their day indulging in yoga, meditation and massages, whilst dining on gourmet Asian-Mediterranean fusion cuisine, where every ingredient has been selected for its positive contribution to health and wellness.

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Our stay at Wharekauhau Luxury Lodge

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The team and I were lucky enough to visit and spend two amazing nights at Wharekauhau Luxury Lodge.

The 1.5 hour drive from Wellington airport takes you through the scenic Rimutaka mountain range. The drive is stunning however it is fairly windy so, if you do get queasy easily, we would recommend catching a short helicopter flight to arrive like a rock star!

As we approached the Lodge we were all gobsmacked by the view, a working farm with a shoreline backdrop. Richard, the General Manager, gave us a warm welcome and was an amazing host throughout our stay.

The Lodge itself was bright, airy and spacious. Our rooms were warm, modern and ultra-luxurious. A real highlight was the fact that all three rooms interconnected, so perfect for bigger groups! We immediately opened all of the doors onto our own private terrace and sat back to take in the ocean view. We felt completely at home.

We had time to relax by the indoor pool, explore the grounds on the Lodge mountain bikes and have a stroll along the various walking trails.

Before dinner, the wine cellar provided the perfect spot for some pre-dinner wine tasting and canapes. The first night we dined in the sumptuous red room with a real log fire and whiskey cupboard. The three course dinner with wine match was delicious, it tasted as good as it looked! 

The following day we were taken on a tour of the farm by the Farm Manager. As it's a working lamb and beef farm we had the opportunity to see some of their cows and sheep, as well as feed their new born lambs. We were then taken on a scenic off-roading tour along the beachfront.

For the afternoon's activity we were told that clay target shooting was not to be missed, they have a shooting range for everyone, beginners to advanced shooters…..we were certainly beginners.

For the second evening we chose the downstairs dining room with light colours and a cosy fire. The food and wine was once again amazing, served completely peaceful environment we never wanted to leave. Two nights just wasn’t long enough!

 

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Book your Queenstown Marathon Luxury Accommodation

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With the Queenstown Marathon fast arriving, if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to start thinking about locking your accommodation in. Fortunately, we still have a selection of luxury private villas ideal for your stay.

Ranging in size from two to five bedrooms, we can accommodate your ‘cheer squad’ of varying sizes. With fully equipped gourmet kitchens, create your carb-loaded, pre-race meals in the comfort of your accommodation and then after the race enjoy a soothing soak in the hot tub, complete with stunning lake views.

Last but not least, as an extra sweetener, the first six who book a stay over the Marathon weekend will receive a complimentary 60 minute massage*, ideal to sooth those post race muscles.

Just quote 'MARATHON' at the check-out when booking online or to your Travel Designer when enquiring. 

Here are our top three ‘Marathon-made in heaven’ properties:

1. KOHANGA LAKESIDE VILLA

Located right on the Marathon course, your friends/family will have no excuse for not cheering you on.  The property also benefits from Marathon worthy features such as an outdoor pizza oven and hot tub.

2. HYDE LOFT

More interested in the post-race festivities than putting your feet-up? You could not be in a more central location to take advantage of the great Queenstown nightlife. 

3. JACKS POINT LAKE HOUSE

Enjoy the peace and tranquility that this properties nature preserve location affords, together with it’s stand out range of features including hot tub, media room, pool table and ample outdoor lounge & dining.

*Subject to availability. Valid for the first six booking made for dates including 16th - 18th November 2018 and for Touch of Spice exclusive properties only. 

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Shredding under the stars - Queenstown Night Skiing

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Our Travel Designer Paivi's verdict on one of Queenstown's popular after-dark winter activities

I was lucky to be invited for a Veuve Clicquot Wednesday night ski. Considering I hadn’t skied for a few years I was a little apprehensive.

Myself and a colleague hopped on a bus from NZ Ski snow centre. We sat back and enjoyed the views. At every corner and turn we were happy we did not drive up ourselves.

On arrival we went through the rentals. Being a Wednesday afternoon there were definitely no queues there and staff was very helpful. Even the boots fitted my colleague who usually has difficulties finding boots that fit. They fitted so well that she actually went and bought the exact boots afterwards!

Once we were geared up we headed for the lifts. There was some delay at Coronet Express and queue was building up. We decided to head for the Greengates and I am glad we did as it was the last run of the day at Greengates. Greengates runs are not lit up and the natural daylight was fading.

The snow as good, the temperature was comfortable and it wasn’t too windy. I was skiing down the mountain with a big smile on my face. I was enjoying it more than I thought I would after so many years. They say it is like riding a bike and that it comes back to you and yes that’s exactly how it was!

We did about 6 runs before we headed to the Peak Club for some Veuve Clicquot and nibbles. We also heard about the new products Coronet Peak offers this winter:

  • Veuve Clicquot Wednesday night ski. Avoid the crowds and hit the slopes Wednesday afternoon from 4pm until 9pm. This is a new addition to the usual Friday and Saturday nights. 
  • Heidi’s Hut Dinners. This special dining experience is limited to 40 seats only every Friday & Saturday night during August & September.
  • Peak Club Day Pass. Coronet Peak’s Ultimate Luxury Product is the Peak Club Day Pass. Includes VIP parking, Peak Club Lounge Access including meals & drinks and a Lift pass including First Tracks & Night Ski.
  • Twilight Pass. The Twilight pass is perfect for late-risers wanting to get a full day of skiing and experience the fun of night skiing at Coronet Peak.  Twilight Passes are valid from 12.30pm to 9pm at Coronet Peak only, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays until early/mid-September. Same price as regular day pass – perfect after a night night out in Queenstown!

After the Veuve Clicquots warming us up we did a couple of more runs before jumping back on the bus to Queenstown. We had such a great night and I am glad I got the opportunity to enjoy it!

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The ultimate scenic Milford heli experience

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Touch of Spice Travel Designer Jolene Wood experiences Milford from the air with Glacier Southern Lakes

One of the best things you can ever do in the South Island is see it from the air.

I arrived the Glacier Southern Lakes office on a beautiful Monday morning  to be greeted by the friendly team, taken through the safety brief and was introduced to the group I would be flying with which happened to be a honeymoon couple from London and a young lady from Australia and Trish who works for Glacier Southern – all of which had never been on a helicopter before. Needless to say we were excited and it was cool to meet people from outside of Queenstown.

I was even more excited when I was shown we were flying in the brand new  Airbus H130 which is super luxurious and feels like you are truly flying in style. I had my own leather seat and sat facing two other people which was really cool to interact with each other and see everyone’s reactions to the surroundings.

As we took off and headed high above the mountains towards the Tasman Sea the views were incredible! It was a beautiful sunny day, the lake was a turquoise blue and the mountains were covered - truly stunning! The pilot talks through your surroundings and points out the lakes you are flying over while beautiful relaxing music plays through you headphones which is lovely.

We arrived in Milford and were given the option to do one of the nature walks or go for a coffee and some food. I decided to relax and enjoy the views and was treated to a coffee by the lovely Trish and spoke about how amazing the flight was. 30 minutes later we were ready to take off again.

We switched seats this time so we could all experience the views form a different perspective which was great that we had that option. The walk back to he heli around the lake gives you the opportunity to see it all again but from a different perspective and a great opportunity to take some beautiful photos.

We flew back past Milford with its amazing waterfalls and so much greenery in the forests so you are constantly surprised by the ever changing scenery and the animals in there natural habitat. I saw a herd of wild deer stop and stare at us whilst we flew over which was pretty cool and as we flew over the beach for our beach landing, the pilot highlighted their were some seals below us.

The pilot hovered above the seals and tilted the heli down so close that we literally couldn’t get any closer. We then landed a little further along the beach and had the chance to get out and take in the sounds the sea, the amazing scenery and collect some greenstone which is dotted all over the beach if you are lucky enough to spot it!

We took off again and in less than 5 minutes I was standing on one of the highest glaciers in the world. This is one of the most surreal moments I have ever experienced, to be on a beach one moment then on a glacier surrounded by white powered glistening snow the next was just, wow! It was so peaceful and beautiful and a very memorable moment.

On the flight back over the valleys and mountains with the tunes of Coldplay's song ‘paradise’ playing through my headphones I  felt like I was a million miles away from my everyday life, and also remember thinking I am so lucky to live here.

It was a truly memorable experience  and one I highly recommend to everyone as you really cannot be disappointed! 

Thanks to Glacier Southern Lakes for the experience.

Jolene.

 

 

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Aroha Homestead

Perfect for winter because you can walk across to Millbrook Resort to warm your hands with a morning coffee and you also have access to their day-spa, restaurants and golf course. Aroha Homestead also features large roaring fires in the two living areas that have large comfy couches and a Sonos entertainment systems. After a big day on the slopes, there’s a spa pool to soak your muscles in while under the stars. 
Bedrooms: 5 bedrooms, sleeps 10
Closest ski mountain: Coronet Peak – 10 minutes’ drive to the base
Price: from NZD$235 per person, per night

 

Kahua Villa

Perfect for winter because it’s right at the base of The Remarkables ski field so you don’t need to travel far. There’s a Central Otago wine-wall which you can grab a bottle from to enjoy with a home cooked dinner. Plus, you have the Jack’s Point Restaurant, with its mouth-watering menu and the Jack’s Point championship golf course right on your doorstep.
Bedrooms: 4 bedrooms, sleeps 8
Closest ski mountain: The Remarkables – 5 minutes’ drive to the base
Price: from NZD$130 per person, per night

 

Alpine Retreat

Perfect for winter because of the mountain views that allow you to inspect the snow levels, the outdoor fire & seating for après ski wine & cheese, the cosy bedrooms and welcoming living space. Plus there's the drying room so your gear is crisp and warm the next day’s skiing.
Bedrooms: 5 bedrooms, sleeps 10
Closest ski mountain: Coronet Peak – 10 minutes’ drive to the base
Price: from NZD$110 per person, per night

 

Hyde Loft

Perfect for winter because if you’re not comfortable driving, you don’t need a car, as you’re in the centre of it all! You have Spring Day Spa downstairs, endless restaurants around you, and transport to the ski mountain is a short stroll away. The loft is luxurious and perfectly positioned for enjoying the apres ski nightlife.
Bedrooms: 2 bedrooms, sleeps 4
Closest ski mountain: Coronet Peak – 10 minutes’ drive to base
Price: from NZD$275 per person, per night

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Explore 5 ski fields:
Here’s a fast 5 on our regions ski fields:


Coronet Peak caters to the crowds, has terrain for all levels of skier and is closest to downtown Queenstown.

The Remarkables has recently had an upgrade with more carparks and a new base building, it’s north facing with all day sun and has terrain for all levels

Cardrona Ski Resort is known for being family friendly with wide tracks and generally isn’t as crowded as Coronet Peak or The Remarkables. They also have the new “Chondola” ski lift which has gondola cabins on the traditional chairlift.

Treble Cone has great off-piste terrain and with the longest vertical slope, making it a favourite for advanced skiers and boarders.

Soho Basin is a private cat-skiing field for up to 24 guests and is aimed for those that are intermediate and above. This year they will be grooming some tracks to have the option between fresh powder and groomed. A chef prepared hot lunch is also included.

Tip: We’re here to help! We can arrange your transport and in-house ski, board & boot fittings. And our new favourite treat is a Salt Float, ideal for the easing of muscle pain, relaxes the nervous system and reduces inflammation – the perfect remedy after the strain of the slopes. 

 

R&R
Our 4 ways to relax in your Touch of Spice villa.
 

1. If skiing isn’t your thing or your muscles want a break from the slopes, we can arrange for an in-house   massage/facial/treatment or book you into a top day-spa

2. Want to make the most of your villa? Enjoy a 5-course degustation dinner with wine match all prepared, cooked and served for you by a private chef.

3. If your villa doesn’t have a spa pool, we can arrange for a portable spa pool to be set up at your villa for the duration of your stay. Bliss!

4. Take an art tour with our private guide, Kate who will tailor an itinerary to your art preference visiting both public and private galleries. 

Tip: A Touch of Spice curator is at your disposal to arrange any of the following for your stay with us.

 

Explore untouched backcountry

Proudly wearing our ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ badge, let us show you what all the hype is about in one of our many once-in-a-lifetime backcountry experiences. From snowmobiling and dog sledding to heli-skiing and, snowshoeing have a look at our inspirational winter packages here. 

 

Night skiing
At Coronet Peak, when the sun goes down, the lights turn on! From 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Wednesday – Saturday the mountain remains open, a D.J. plays live and the pizza oven stays hot. It’s a nightlife like no other!

Tip: have dinner and a mulled wine on the mountain for the full experience!

 

Romance

Queenstown is famed for being a romantic getaway due to its calming atmosphere and dramatic beauty. An all-time favourite and the epitome of romance is ‘Picnic on a Peak’. Fly by private charter helicopter to The Ledge for a magical half hour of tranquillity.  There, overlooking The Southern Alps in complete peace, enjoy a delicious chef-prepared Champagne picnic for two. It’s an incredible sensory moment, where the imposing scale of nature is awe-inspiring.

 

Family fun
Multi-generational travel is the preferred trend when it comes to spending family time together, so not to worry because Queenstown has got the kids covered too! From steamship cruises and farm tours to luging and ziplining. And if the adults are wanting some time out, we can arrange for babysitters and ski lessons.  Our deluxe family package – is the ideal time to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences with your children.

 

Boutique Shopping

For a pint-sized town, Queenstown is a mecca for boutique shopping. From international heavyweights such as Louis Vuitton, Zimmerman, and Canadian Goose all the way through to highly regarded New Zealand designers such as Karen Walker, World and Zambesi. Visit Seletti Concept store, Angel Divine, Untouched World and Louis Vuitton to find your holiday memento.

 

Nightlife
Queenstown is renowned for its waterfront nightlife.

  • For a sophisticated bar: visit The Lodge Bar
  • For phenomenal cocktails and 360 views: visit The Sundeck
  • For nibbles that turn into drinks that turn into dancing: visit Little Blackwood
  • For a live band:  visit Blue Door

Tip: make Fergburger & Bakery your last stop before heading home. Open until 5:00am.

 

What’s on

Clicquot in the Snow 2nd – 5th August
Winter PRIDE week 1st – 9th September

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For the Love of Land

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Finding a local in Queenstown is like finding a needle in a haystack, so you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot when you hear the ever-apparent New Zealand accent of, Paddy, your guide, greet you on arrival.

The conversation runs freely during the drive out to Moke Lake. Stunning reflections, snow-capped mountains and sheep scarpering off in every direction and we were yet to arrive at our destination.

Suited and booted we headed past the boundary of Moke Lake and into the working high-country station of Ben Lomond. Climbing Cliffs, drifting around corners, and flying through rivers, past gold miners sledging for gold in a 6-seater buggy, this is 100% pure New Zealand.

Paddy throws in the occasional fun fact about the land, the history and the region, he is engaging and charismatic, answering any question we threw at him. We still can’t believe our luck with the weather, a typical Autumn morning, Jack Frost has visited and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. We are blazing the countryside with only sheep in sight thinking how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful corner of the world.

Pre-Lunch we meet the farmer and his wife sitting at their beautiful farmhouse enjoying bacon and eggs, it doesn’t get much more Kiwi than that. Paddy takes us up to the viewpoint and the climax for the trip; 1000m above sea level, snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, silver beach, and sheep is all we can see for miles while enjoying a picnic lunch and taking in that fresh rural air.

This is the perfect trip to escape the crowds, whether it’s a corporate group, a family getaway or a private trip for two, there is something to gain for everyone. Full of history, adrenaline, and fresh air, it is a must-do activity to get off the grid for a full or even half a day.

For further info on this tour, please contact us via info@touchofspice.co.nz or + 64 3 450 0855

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10 reasons why you have to visit Laucala Island Resort

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Laucala (pronounced Lau-tha-la) Island is the latest luxury Fijian resort to join the Touch of Spice portfolio of the best luxury stays in the South Pacific.

I was lucky enough to stay at Laucala recently and experience why this particular resort is the go-to for celebrities around the world.

It’s hard to put into words how truly amazing Laucala was, but here are my top 10 reasons why Laucala is the ultimate luxury getaway!

 

Super Luxe Villas
The oceanfront villas are amazingly gorgeous, luxurious yet modestly unpretentious.  They haven’t overlooked a thing in these Villas.  From freshly roasted nuts and locally grown plantain chips served every afternoon, to delectable sweet treats baked fresh every day and a very generous selection of wines, spirits and of course Red Bull. The Villa itself was a haven that you didn't need to leave.  Three brightly painted coconuts sat at our front gate used to indicate “come in” “stay away” or “clean me please!”.  All of the beachfront villas have private pools and direct access to your own part of the white sandy beach.

 

Lush locally made bathroom amenities
The attention to detail, craftsmanship, talent, and skill of all the people involved in running Laucala Island is evident everywhere, right down to every handmade amenity. The body oils, soaps, shampoo & conditioners, body wash, bath bombs and body scrubs were perfectly crafted by the local Fijian staff using the island’s own natural resources.

 

The Epic Pool 
The massive lagoon-style pool that sits at the heart of the resort is a masterpiece. Divided into three areas, the pool includes tropical manmade islands as well as Laucala’s iconic 25-metre-long glass cube. The swim-up-bar serves all day cocktails, my favourite being freshly made chili Margaritas!

 

Exceptional staff
Over 400 staff maintain this 1400-hectare piece of tropical paradise to service a maximum of just 80 guests. Absolutely nothing is too much trouble true to the reputation of Fijian hospitality.

 

Anything is possible!
Anything can be done at Laucala at any time – even a midnight massage is doable! No reservations are ever required and so whether it be a romantic dinner for two, a last-minute decision to go for a dive, golf lessons with a golf pro, or urgent laundry and dry cleaning. You can take your holiday at your pace and find your own “island time”.  Stays at Laucala include all food and beverages so you can indulge from dawn till dusk at your leisure.

 

The Rock Lounge
With its roof-top-treehouse design, uninterrupted never-ending ocean views and the most spectacular sunsets, The Rock Lounge is where I spent 50% of my daylight hours! With cloud-like lounger chairs, delicious finger food and gins coming without even asking, I never wanted to leave.

 

The Farm Tour
As one of the largest Fijian Islands, Laucala is passionate about sustainability. All the organically grown crops and farmed animals on the island provide the majority of products provided and I mean all the way down to the limes in my margarita.

 

The Butler Trays at Plantation House
Occupying an elegant colonial-style mansion, Plantation House served the best array of breakfast treats I’ve ever encountered in all my travels. The Butler’s Trays can’t be missed with three different trays to choose from, my go-to had to be The Healthy Tray which included; Wholemeal Waffles with Agava Syrup, Rye Flour Crepes with Laucala honey & tropical fruits, Fresh Herb Cream Cheese & Crudites, an assortment of energy balls and Yogurt & Fruit Coulis. No better way to start the day! Alongside this is a complete choice of breakfast options, a heart-stopping array of freshly baked goods and an amazing selection of freshly squeezed juices using fruit straight off the island.

 

The devil is in the details
On my first night the staff had noted that I’m partial to a gin & tonic, and by the time we arrived back to our suite post massage, the gin decanter sitting in our bar had been filled with extra just in case we were to run dry.

 

Private Airstrip
If traveling by private charter or jet, the island has the added convenience of its own runway, avoiding any necessity for transfers from the mainland. Another upside is that the island has its own air and maritime exclusion zones, meaning the island is truly off limits to prying paparazzi.

For Laucala Island reservation inquiries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch through info@touchspice.co.nz

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