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LUXURY HOTELS: Hilton Queenstown, New Zealand
Style: Luxury lodge meets slick hotel
Scene: Lake side and private
Seen in the lobby: Those who love enjoying the great outdoors in style
Snow is falling in Queenstown New Zealand and falling...and falling. As the song says "baby it's cold outside" and when it's cold out there is no better place to be than the town's newest luxury hotel, Hilton Queenstown right on the edge of the lake. This place is like a giant comforting cocoon, rich red velvet sofas, wide fireplaces and dark chocolate walls wrap you in womb-like warmth. All in the best possible designer style of course.

hilton queenstown exterior
hilton queenstown exterior
hilton queenstown lounge
hilton queenstown pool
hilton queenstown views
red velvet sofas
wakatipu grill

For anyone looking for the high life, in more ways than one, the new Hilton Queenstown and neighbouring Kawarau Hotel, also managed by Hilton, are THE place to stay this New Zealand ski season. Opened in May in Queenstown's new Kawarau Village the twin hotels are the only ones so close to the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

The complex is only four minutes from the small airport and fifteen minutes from the base of the nearest ski slopes, The Remarkables, but from the wide windows in my bedroom the mountains seem much closer. The views are magnificent, so much so that while it is light I hardly ever switch on the state of the art LCD TV preferring instead to toast my toes by the fire and look at the soft grey sky blanketing the lake and the gently falling snow.
 After my treatment I feel as light as a snowflake and float back to my room to sink onto the sofa before my limbs melt from under me.
It is about the same distance into Queenstown but if you don't fancy the drive there is a much nicer way to travel. One night I stroll down to the private jetty and wait for the water taxi into town.  The air is cold and clear. In front of me stretches the jade-green depths of Lake Wakatipu.  This has to be the only way to travel I think as I climb aboard the boat and it skims over the shiny surface of the lake towards Queenstown. I look back at the mountains and their peaks are blobbed with snow like giant scoops of ice-cream, ahead the lights of the town twinkle like fireflies.
This is the first evening I've ventured into Queenstown, despite its reputation as party central because there are so many options right here in 'The village' and when it's cold outside there is an urge to hunker down and just enjoy what the Hilton complex has to offer. On the first night I treated myself to a meal at Hilton Queenstown's signature restaurant Wakatipu Grill, run by renowned New Zealand chef Peter Thornley. Day two saw me at the Me & Mee Noodle Bar in the Kawarau Hotel. Then the village itself offers more dining options, including The Lake Counter cafe, grocery & deli and the Stacks Pub which is aptly named since the place is packed to the rafters with stacks of sporty types in warm -no doubt New Zealand- wool jumpers recounting the outdoorsy delights of their day.
For residents of the nearby, and up-market ( real estate values are steep here), Kelvin Heights  the Hilton complex has already become like their own personal social club. Stacks Pub with its ski-lined walls is their 'local' for a drink or a pizza. Cocktail hour is in the  clubby Hilton bar and for a gourmet night out they book Wakatipu Grill.  And if the restaurant can please the discerning clientele from Kelvin, used as they are to the finer things in life, it must be good.
For those needing to massage tired ski limbs there is also the impressive Eforea Spa and down a wide spiral staircase a 25 metre indoor pool and Jacuzzi. After my treatment I feel as light as a snowflake  and float back to my room to sink onto the sofa before my limbs melt  from under me.
At night I do more sinking, this time into a bed with pillows as soft as a snow drift and dream of more days up on the mountains when for once I sail down the black runs with elegant ease and don't end up on my bottom in a tangle of skis and embarrassment.  Well, a girl can dream. 
Check in: Kawarau Village, Peninsula Rd, Queenstown, New Zealand, 2684
Ultimate Luxury:  The view cross the lake
Most Indulgent Moment:  A  L'iTya treatment in the spa
The Little Things: A welcoming fire in your suite
Junior Luxies: Welcome .Children love the water taxi and feeding the ducks at the lake edge in springtime.
Dress code: Smart casual evening, ski gear, hiking gear (anything that makes you look suitably sporty) in the day
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.Hilton.com


Luxury Ski
This year the snowfall in NZ has been the best the country has seen for a few years, so August is the perfect time to pick up a last minute deal. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables (the nearest slopes to the Hilton) have a fantastic new 'smartcard' system called My Pass the card records all your details for ski hire and lift passes and swipes like a credit card. It even clocks the kilometres you have skied so you can keep a record of the terrain you've covered. Oh, that all ski resorts had such a simple, efficient system.
 For the latest on the NZ ski slopes click here. www.nzski.co.nz
Hilary Doling 1/8/11
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