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 team and I were lucky enough to be invited by Eichardt’s to enjoy their newest addition the, Pacific Jemm, over a lunchtime cruise.
As soon as we stepped on board, we were greeted by friendly smiles, and a glass of bubbles, which in my opinion is the best way to start a cruise. The weather was also on point which provided perfect cruising conditions.
On this trip we cruised the corners of Lake Wakatipu before stopping for a delicious BBQ lunch, which was served on the top deck. The food was a mixture of meats and salads, providing enough variety for everyone's taste buds.
Below deck the Pacific Jemm boasts four bedrooms all equipped with luxury linen, their own entertainment systems and bathroom facilities - the master including a spa bath.
A personal favourite of mine was the sun lounger on the front of the boat which is perfect for a spot of sunbathing and conversations with friends. Here you can also take in the amazing views that this cruise has to offer.
We cruised around Lake Wakatipu for approximately three hours before docking back in Queenstown central. This is an excellent daytime activity, especially for those looking to cruise in style while enjoying all of the luxuries that this boat has to offer.
Thank you to the team at Eichardt's for this fantastic day out!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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
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