31 best things to do in the central North Island
Dominated by the enormous Lake Taupō and a trio of volcanoes including Mount Ruapehu, the Central Plateau is sporting a plethora of natural ...
After a long week of making my greatest attempt at work-life-mum balance, a weekend away from it all is the perfect, luxurious southern hospitality I need.
The main lobby’s style is quintessentially ‘ski lodge luxe’. The welcoming team remember us by name from previous visits, and we share a bottle of Champagne with manager Roman Lee-Lo, who has been at The Rees for over 12 years (see below for a short Q&A with Roman).
Overlooking Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables peeking out among the clouds, The Rees is ideally placed just outside of central Queenstown. Sound like paradise? That’s because it is. This private getaway has even been the choice destination for many an international celebrity (more on that below).
The Rees is also home to the four-star True South Dining Room with award-winning Chef Corey Hume at the helm, preparing meals that are absolutely out of this world. We’ve timed it to be here for one of the highly sought-after The Rees Culinary Series events, this one featuring Cloudy Bay wines paired with a five-course degustation designed and created by the resident chef.
If you prefer the perks, how do lavender guest pillows, late-night room service and 24-hour concierge sound? We partake in them all, and as a side note, pizza at midnight is something everyone should experience.
It’s all matched with exceptional views for a perfect Queenstown escape that defines the experience that is The Rees Hotel Queenstown.
Top of our list for the next visit to Queenstown is a Heli Wine Tour, which flies you to the best of Central Otago wineries to soak up the adventure and wine. We’re also eyeing up a stay at The Rees Residences with the wider whānau. These luxury lakefront homes away from home are designed for groups who want to turn up the dial on indulgence, and come with a Luxury Travel Curator to assist.
How long have you been in hospitality? I went directly into hospitality after I left college, and it’s now been over 20 years.
How long at The Rees? I started with The Rees as reservations agent in 2009 when the hotel opened, and am now in my 12th year.
Favourite wine? I don’t do favourites but I am partial to New Zealand’s Kumeu River Chardonnays and, of course Champagne Taittinger and Bollinger.
Favourite dish at True South Dining Room? Every dish at our signature restaurant, True South Dining Room, is irresistible. But in particular, the Fruit Series desserts with life-life fruits by Executive Chef Corey Hume are even better. Sugar-free and delectable. Another seasonal favourite is New Zealand Spiny Rock Lobster Tail with saffron fondant, courgette, tomato, lemongrass, ginger and lime consommé. Who could resist?
Favourite home cooked meal? It varies, but I very much enjoy a range of seafood.
What feature of the hotel do the guests love the most? It’s hard to say with so many features that guests love, but a food and wine experience at our award-winning True South Dining Room is always very popular.
What is your outlook for the 2022 travel season? After a two-year international travel hiatus and the New Zealand government’s new announcement allowing the rest of the world to travel to New Zealand from August 1st, we are obviously delighted. To be able to again share our beautiful Aotearoa New Zealand to the rest of the world means delivering The Rees Hotel experience that we are renowned for and truly re-connecting with our travel partners, friends and families. We believe there is a huge amount of pent-up demand for New Zealand and we are looking forward to helping fulfil that, starting with this year’s ski season.
What events will The Rees be hosting over the next year? We always plan to release our calendar of events in the last quarter of the year to allow people to forward plan and to really give them an excuse to wine and dine and be part of our hallmark Culinary Series Winemakers Dinners which will continue throughout the year. Our guests can indulge in some of the best cuisine and wine New Zealand has to offer, while taking part in thought-provoking conversation surrounding viticulture, local produce and the wine industry. Our events are usually a sell-out and we are always adding new ones so we urge everyone to keep up to date with our events and sign up to our newsletter. Coming up on June 24 we’ve got our Matariki Celebration dinner, Esk Valley wines with Gordon Russell. Then we’ve got Ata Rangi on Septermber 23, Dhall and Nash on October 21 and Taittinger Champagne with Vintners on Decvember2.
What are your choice drops that are offered in the hotel? My top selections would be the 2014 Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay, 2014 Collaboration Chardonnay, and the 2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grand Cru from Burgundy, to name a just a few!
What are your favourite recommendations for people to enjoy while visiting Otago? For dining, True South Dining Room for dinner. Then venture out to beautiful and relaxing historical Arrowtown for luncheon at either Akarua or Slow Cuts. Up the ante with a social experience on Wednesday nights at the Blue Door with an array of cocktails and entertainment post-dinner at either Little Aosta by Ben Bayly or the Spanish-themed La Rumbla down the street. For activities, I highly recommend The Rees Ultimate Heli Wine Tour.
What celebrities have you hosted? Go on, we won’t tell… It is no secret that we have hosted many celebrities; rumoured to include the King of Jordan to Katy Perry and more but, of course, I can neither confirm nor deny.
What are your favourite leisure activities? I very much enjoy exploring our backyard, in particular Arrowtown with my favourite walks and hikes on Tobin’s Track or Sawpit Gully. The views, the sensation you feel when you climb gives me a sense of renewal and relaxation. Of course, this is in addition to hosting a dinner or drinks for friends at home – I’m always happy being of service to others. Enriching peoples’ experiences and being a great host is the true art of hospitality. Ironic as it doesn’t seem relaxing, but I truly find it is!