When you ask people about the most luxurious lodges in New Zealand, Blanket Bay will normally be first on the list. It is the rumoured choice for stars including Taylor Swift, Tom Cruise and Bear Grylls (when he’s had enough of the great outdoors!) Just a scenic 45-minute drive from Queenstown, this idyllic escape is blissfully remote, whilst also benefitting from its close proximity to New Zealand’s most popular tourist town.
We arrived by shuttle bus, though were told most guests fly in directly by helicopter. Our bus driver fidgeted excitedly in his seat whilst taking us up the private driveway, eager to catch a glimpse of the exclusive hotel that is so often talked about but rarely seen. The calm and deserted surroundings are majestic and breathtakingly beautiful. The setting reminded me of the Scottish highlands; rugged and unspoilt. The main lodge is grand and inviting, it was a cosy retreat from the drizzling rain. Guests are encouraged to treat these communal areas as home, whether you choose to use the sophisticated games room, enjoy a cocktail at the elegant bar or relax by the roaring fire. Breakfast and dinner are also served here, in opulent and comfortable dining rooms.
Blanket Bay provides a boutique service, with just nine rooms and suites in the main building and four chalet suites found outside in the grounds, the maximum occupancy is just 26 people. This enables staff to deliver an immaculate level of personalised service, while guests have plenty of space and quiet to truly unwind. I experienced the Wyuna chalet suite located a few minutes walk from the main building. The suite was luxurious yet unpretentious, sympathetically designed and decorated to complement the stunning setting. From our window we could relish the views of the Humboldt mountain range across the lake and the Richardson Mountains behind us. The bedroom was carefully created to pamper and indulge your senses… the softest materials, warm wooden antique furniture, and concealed modern gadgets. The centrepiece fluffy bed let me sink into it, propped up by the bouncy pillows, and I was kept warm by the impressive, farmhouse-style fire, which illuminated the room.
The bathroom was indulgent and functional with a powerful shower (that doubled up as a steam room) and large bath. Toiletries were provided by the familiar English brand, The White Company. The thoughtful extras were endless… branded Blanket Bay water bottles to take home, a complimentary minibar stocked with delicious local chocolate and a varied choice of music to listen to in the room.
Complimentary pre-dinner drinks, creative canapés and a five-course a la carte dinner are included in the room rate for each guest. Order a glass of the delicious Amisfield house wine from local vineyards or challenge the barman to create you a classic cocktail. The intimate dining room is a special place to dine, with filmic views from every window. The team of talented chefs create innovative dishes using the finest seasonal ingredients. Highlights from our meal included a vibrant and comforting Farro Risotto with pumpkin and pea shoots, and a beautifully delicate Saiko Salmon Mousse with subtle seasoning from the leek and celeriac and complementing creamy yoghurt dressing. I loved the Tahitian Vanilla and Rose Bavarois dessert, a girly sweet treat with a range of enticing flavours and textures. For a more private occasion dinner can be arranged in the wine cave.
For breakfast there is an array of healthy and wholesome foods on offer, or you can choose to indulge with the a la carte menu and order pancakes with blueberry compote and maple butter, like I did! For a more hearty morning meal opt for the homemade porridge with apple syrup.
Many guests will choose to take advantage of the private grounds for their outdoor activities and hikes but the staff can also arrange exhilarating day trips to nearby natural wonders. Take a jet boat ride on the Dart River or try heliskiing in the Southern Alps. For a more cultured excursion the hotel offers a wine and arts trail around the neighbouring wine region.
Blanket Bay is renowned in New Zealand and worldwide as one of the finest lodges on offer. For a breath of the freshest air and luxury like no other, this peaceful alpine retreat will nourish and nurture your mind, body and soul.
More information and book a stay at Blanket Bay here: www.blanketbay.com