My family are calling to me from the infinity spa pool where they are drinking ice-cold Dom Perignon and beer, laughing and bonding, reconnecting after a year apart.
I'm padding barefoot round the lush lawns, camera in hand, gazing outwards, reclaiming my mountains and lake after too long an absence, and inwards at the gleaming jewel-like structure of The Jagged Edge where we are staying. There’s already steam coming from my camera lens and I’ve only been there half an hour.
The visual impact of the Jagged Edge is literally staggering. When I first saw the place, I took several steps backwards as I absorbed the bold, futuristic, dart-shaped form of the house which catapults from the rock face as if heading for the sky. Anchored to the schist with steel cables drilled deep into the mountain, the triangular glass and steel structure appears to hang from the cliff. The architecture defies the rules of plumb with side walls jutting out from the base at an 18-degree angle soaring to 9.2 metres at the apex.
It’s so light on the landscape, it’s nearly invisible - you can see through it to the mountains, lake and forest on the other side. The interior design is almost entirely open plan, free from any barriers to the breath-taking 270-degree panorama of the world-famous Remarkables rising perpendicularly from the turquoise-jade waters of Lake Wakatipu.
Three sumptuous bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms and an upstairs relaxation-reading room are suspended from the ceiling on a mezzanine platform at the rear of the house above the kitchen and living area, creating a soaring floor-to-ceiling atrium at the prow. At the touch of a button, wall panels slide across the front of the mezzanine floor and blinds descend from the ceiling, transforming the airy, sunny bedrooms into cosy private boudoirs at night.
However, the elevated view from the master bedroom is so spectacular, I slept with the blinds up so I could catch the first rays of sun illuminating the glacier-gouged, craggy face of the Remarkables. Cocooned in finest Baksana bedlinen under the lightest of goose down duvets, I feared I would miss the sunrise without the light to stir my slumbers.
Dawn and dusk were times of high drama for me. The Jagged Edge’s glass wall panels were like mirrors so my head was on a swivel, trying to watch the actual sunrise or sunset, photograph the dazzling reflected images, relax in the spa (at 5 metres by 6 metres, it’s more a swimming pool than a hot tub) and drink bubbly, all at the same time. I coped heroically!
The bathrooms are a study in minimalism, fully tiled in white porcelain. A huge glass-walled, walk-in double shower runs the full length of the master ensuite and twin basins sit on a glass-top, wall-hung vanity with drawers and cabinets stocked with luxurious toiletries. There’s no escaping those
mountains. They even came into the bathroom with me. I had a stunning view of the Remarkables through a perfectly placed floor-to-ceiling window, while soaking in the freestanding Victoria and Albert bathtub.
The glossy black and white high-tech kitchen, guest powder room, office and laundry occupy the rear of the ground floor while the front two-thirds are devoted to dining, living, family and entertainment, divided by two sturdy structural columns which house a double-sided gas fire below and frame a splendid view of Cecil Peak above. The space is furnished with a 10-seater glass dining table, huge comfy couches with fat, squashy cushions, a 103-inch wall-mounted television and state-of-the-art Sonos sound system. I was intrigued with the James Bond-esque bar that rises from an aperture in the floor, and a Yamaha grand piano that can be programmed to play itself. I became a virtuoso in a matter of minutes. The wine cave is a cool place in more ways than just the temperature, a constant 13 degrees C. Tunnelled into the bedrock behind the house, I loved the atmosphere of the cave and the musty smell of the schist dissected with seams of quartz. Accessed from the living area through a tall, heavy, opaque glass door, twin eagles guard the wooden racks which hold a comprehensive selection of local, New Zealand and imported wines. It became my favourite place to sample wines.
One of few man-made adornments in a house dominated by the grandeur of the landscape, is an eye-catching mosaic head from Mexico lit from within. Another is an imposing glass sculpture of a kiwi bird in the stairwell designed by New Zealander Peter Stoneham. With its acres of pale knotless timber flooring, the overall effect is one of understated elegance and clean, uncluttered lines. It’s a luxurious, restful place devoid of fussy detail and decoration. The owners have wisely allowed nature to take centre stage.
At $10,000 a night, the three-bedroom, four-bathroom house is among New Zealand’s most expensive and exclusive private holiday accommodation, and is now available for rent through Luxe Houses.
But what about the entourage, I hear you ask? Pas de problème. A short stroll away down a pretty pebbled path is an equally palatial five-bedroom, six-bathroom guest house with a heated swimming pool, spa pool, sauna, gymnasium, kitchen, an expansive living area with huge wrap-around deckings and the same jaw-dropping view as the mother ship up the hill. Voilà! Eight bedrooms all up. At an extra $5000 a night, it’s a steal.
Once installed at the Jagged Edge and guest house, your privacy and solitude are assured. You need not see another soul until you check out apart, from your dedicated VIP concierge who will arrange anything and everything for you. Services (at an additional cost) tap into Luxe Houses’ extensive, highly-respected network of professionals who specialise in ensuring your stay is flawless. On the menu are private charter jets, helicopter transfers, yachts, launches and jet-boats, celebrity private chefs, waiters, butlers, drivers, bespoke spa treatments, experienced nannies, guides ski instructors and personal trainers. Apart from the historic steamer Earnslaw, the Lady of the Lake, plying the sparkling waters of Lake Wakatipu, the necklace of majestic mountains are your only companions, and the sweet song of the bellbirds sipping nectar from the native flax in the lush gardens is only sound you will hear... unless you programme the piano to play a symphony to the terroir which certainly merits such a salute.
Even if you are not planning a trip to New Zealand - and why would you not at any time of the year - the Jagged Edge is a unique destination in its own right. Carved into the mountainside 10 minutes from Queenstown - the nation’s premier all-seasons’ tourist resort - it's private, secluded, secure, exclusive and only 20 minutes’ drive or five minutes’ heli-transfer from Queenstown International Airport.
And it’s closer and easier to access than one would imagine. You could be soaking your world-weary body in the spa pool, champagne in hand, overlooking Lake Wakatipu, gazing spell-bound at the sawtooth pinnacles of the Remarkables, in under three hours direct from Sydney . . . or a mere 24 hours from London. Meanwhile your private chef will prepare a magnificent repast for you in the fabulous kitchen, thanks to your Luxe Houses concierge.
The Jagged Edge is good for the soul - I’ve stayed there winter and summer and found my spirits soar and my heart at peace. It’s a combination of the pristine mountain-lake surroundings and life inside an extraordinary work of art. Go there now before the rest of the world discovers it . . .
The Luxury Travel Bible insider says:
| Should you wish to venture beyond your idyllic Jagged Edge hideaway, Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, is on your doorstep see our TRAVEL article
Justine Tyerman 1/3/16