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Thursday 9 January 2014

A stylish stay in New Zealand's adrenaline capital

The quality of a hotel - and particularly the welcome offered by its staff - can make or break a vacation or business trip. 

The Rees Hotel, one of Queenstown’s favourite luxury hostelries - is blessed with some of the most professional staff I have come across; a multinational, multilingual task force dedicated to making every guest feel at home. 

Whether you need local advice, or a lift into the downtown area because it is snowing in October, there is someone on hand to help - and the Rees's location is close to perfect for those who want peace and quiet while having the action close by. 

With dramatic views over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, this five-star boutique hotel is just a short waterfront stroll away from Queenstown’s central precinct. The Rees has 60 hotel rooms and 90 apartments, all with private balconies. 

The hotel’s restaurant, True South Dining, offers gourmet cuisine, including an extensive wine cellar, and specialises in dishes based on local produce. The menu changes monthly to reflect ingredients that are seasonal. 

Think dishes like teriyaki-grilled mackerel, pickled beets, potato salad and wasabi; or scallops, crispy pigs head, pumpkin miso puree, pickled turnips and nam jim dressing - matched with local wine labels like Surveyor Thomson or Northburn Station.  

The Rees also has a spa treatment room, gymnasium, conference room, ski lockers, private jetty (just summon your own water taxi), mountain bikes, courtesy shuttle and wi-fi, along with the tiny Bordeau (meaning next to the water) wine lounge, which stocks local and imported French wines, including a wide range of Bordeaux vintages (Mouton-Rothschild or Lynch-Bages anyone?).

The hotel was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award, which is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor.

All bedrooms feature super king-sized beds, start-of-the-art video systems, LCD TVs, free high-speed wi-fi, iPod docking stations, satellite TV channels, designer bathrooms with walk-in showers and specially designed furniture. 

General manager Mark Rose is also a part-owner of one of Queenstown's hippest new eateries; Sasso, which means stone in Italian and 
is located in historic McNeill’s cottage, sits just a few steps from the shores of Lake Wakatipu and executive chef Sal Grant and his team offer Italian-inspired cuisine that combines traditional and innovative elements.

An award-winning chef, Grant is keen to expose diners to new taste experiences including fresh burrata, an Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, which he char grills with pumpkin, thyme and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner choices can vary from a simple pizza to a five-course feast matched with local wines. In winter, sample osso buco di cervo, local venison slowly braised in red wine and served on a bed of soft polenta with shaved Manchego. 

Sasso (below) is the creation of two local businessmen, Rose and David Matthews, who felt Queenstown was missing a chic modern Italian dining option. 

The historic stone cottage has undergone a $500,000 refurbishment which resulted in solid wood bar and marble counters sourced in Italy, along with crystal light fittings, while the state-of-the-art kitchen offers an open servery. There is a Mediterranean outdoor courtyard and open fire. The wine list focuses on local pinot noir – and a selection of Italian imports. 

So, two great options in  the undisputed outdoor capital of the southern hemisphere.

Whether you want to be hiking, mountain biking , kayaking, bungee jumping, paragliding, white water rafting, skiing, skydiving or jet boating, the New Zealand outdoor playground offers thrills aplenty. 

And, of course, the vineyards of Central Otago are right on the doorstep of a town that is party central at night time. The Central Otago wine region is home to 200 vineyards within a 1½ hour drive of Queenstown. 

Of these, 80 have cellar doors for tastings. Names to look out for include Felton Road, Mount Difficulty, Misha's Vineyard, Mount Edward, Gibbston Valley, Rippon, Surveyor Thomson, Chard Farm, Peregrine and Quartz Reef. 

The wineries are dotted throughout several sub-regions, each with their own special characteristics, including Bannockburn, Bendigo, Cromwell, Gibbston and Alexandra. A discovery lies around every corner. 

Sasso is at 14/16 Church Street, Queenstown. +64 3 409 0994. and the Rees Hotel and Apartments is at 377 Frankton Road, Queenstown. +64 3 450 1100.

1 comment:

  1. Stayed in April 2013 - wonderful positioning and the lake walk into Queenstown really breathtaking. Like you, found service, cuisine terrific and rooms wonderfully pictorial in outlook. Sasso a fave too.