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LUXURY RESORTS: Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet, Wanaka, New Zealand
Style: Eco-designer
Scene: Lakeside
Seen in the lobby: Those who love peace and quiet
It is one of those perfect mornings, the frost on the fields glitters like Lurex in the winter sunlight; sheep dot the landscape like dollops of snow. We drive happily along the edge of the lake...and drive and drive...Something is wrong here. Where is the sign for our Relais & Chateaux stay?
 
Whare Kea Lodge (pronounced far-eh-kee-ah) is a discreet luxury retreat in Wanaka New Zealand; so discreet in fact that I can't find it at all. I've come way past the anticipated seven kilometre drive from town, so far that I'm opposite the field earmarked for the Wanaka Paintball Centre, which doesn't seem like Whare Kea's style at all .
 
I phone-call for help and being Whare Kea, where nothing is too much trouble, someone drives out to the gate to sit and wait for me to turn around. I drive back along the road and there they are parked next to a small sign on a rough stone wall.
 
Whare Kea Lodge (pronounced far-eh-kee-ah) is a discreet luxury retreat in Wanaka New Zealand; so discreet in fact that I can't find it at all. I've come way past the anticipated seven kilometre drive from town, so far that I'm opposite the field earmarked for the Wanaka Paintball Centre, which doesn't seem like Whare Kea's style at all .
 
I phone-call for help and being Whare Kea, where nothing is too much trouble, someone drives out to the gate to sit and wait for me to turn around. I drive back along the road and there they are parked next to a small sign on a rough stone wall.
 

lake view
lake view
whare kea bed
whare kea view
fireplace
chalet at dusk
living area

I feel as if I've been let in on a special secret, the hidden entrance to paradise. Ok, so I'm just short-sighted and unobservant but let's not ruin the moment here, the feeling still persists.

Because Whare Kea really is a secret shared. The owners of Whare Kea Lodge are Martyn and Louise Myer (Of the Coles Myers retail dynasty). A heli-skiing trip brought Martyn to New Zealand many years ago and like Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) and many others he fell in love with the area's pristine beauty. He and his family returned many times and then for some unaccountable reason, because let's be frank here they don't need the money, he decided to share.

In the summer of 1993 the Myer's bought a plot of land on the edge of the lake with the express desire of sharing the beauty of the area with other like-minded people. Melbourne architect John Mayne was asked to design an eco-friendly lodge that would suit the environment and work well winter and summer.
 
Their vision was to provide luxury which was more intimate and less formal.
There was one other requirement - simplicity. The Myers can stay in any number of glitzy five star hotels but they prefer something a little less ostentatious. Their vision was to provide luxury which was more intimate and less formal. The result is Whare Kea Lodge, a simple building of glass and wood that lets the landscape in.
 
 I walk into the main living area and I am surrounded by blue, floating somewhere between lake and sky. The mountains of Mt Aspiring National Park are an ever-changing backdrop. Aspiring? Inspiring would be a better description.

There are more sublime views from our suite down the hall, space and light are everywhere. The Myers wisely decided not to compete with the view so furniture has clean lines and there are no unnecessary frills.

Aside from the scenery and the service (which is seamless and friendly at the same time - not an easy combination to get right) the other treat is the food.
 
 I'd walk through snowdrifts any day of the week to sample Chef James Stapley's fabulous fare. Who would have thought this quiet corner of New Zealand could produce this kind of creative cooking. The innovative Stapley can cater to any taste with fresh ingredients many of which are direct from his own garden.
 
 
The Chalet
Martyn's passion for heli-skiing recently gave birth to a new enterprise for the exclusive use of guests of Whare Kea Lodge. The chalet is located high in the Buchanan mountain range beside the Mt. Aspiring National Park. Accessible only by helicopter this an unparalleled wilderness location. the helicopter takes off from the front lawn of the lodge and whirls you direct to the high alpine Chalet for an overnight stay. To the NW are stunning views of Mt. Cook to the W is Mt. Aspiring.
This is what the view looks like right now:
Go to www.wharekealodge.com then click on Whare Kea Chalet Web Cam at the bottom of the right hand side.
For an update on weather click here: www.wharekealodge.com/weather/

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Check in:  404 Mt. Aspiring Road, Wanaka, New Zealand  
Ultimate Luxury: A Suite with a Most Indulgent Moment: Eating Chef James sublime food
Most Indulgent Moment: The Myers family visit s few times a year as do some famous friends but everyone keeps a low profile here, Whare Kea isn't about show
The Little Things: A small staff that is genuinely warm and helpful are the stars of Whare Kea
Junior Luxies: No children allowed except when a family takes the whole lodge or if, as luck would have it, another family has already booked in ...which is fortunately what happened to us
Dress code: Casual but chic
Perfect luggage: Nothing showy - it is all about the nature
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Resorts Link: www.relaischateaux.com, www.wharekealodge.com
Hilary Doling 3/8/11
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