Cream of Kiwi luxury out to woo rich

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 11:28 27/05/2012
Blanket Bay Lodge

BLANKET BAY: It is consistently voted one of the world's best lodges.

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Rich Chinese tourists are making a beeline for New Zealand's luxury lodges.

Exclusive lodges such as Blanket Bay in Queenstown, where Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston honeymooned, and Huka Lodge in Taupo, where the Queen and Barbra Streisand have stayed, typically keep mum about their rich clientele but industry insiders say more and more of their guests are Chinese multimillionaires eager to enjoy the high life.

"They want to stay in the very best lodges because they want to be able to go home and brag to their friends - status is very important to the Chinese and they're willing to spend a lot of money to get the best," one insider said.

Pierre Gervois, who runs a Hong Kong-based marketing and public relations company specialising in targeting high net-worth individuals, agrees and believes New Zealand should be doing more to promote the luxury arm of its tourism sector.

His company has been engaged by Auckland International Airport as part of its campaign to attract more wealthy Chinese to New Zealand and has been instrumental in setting up a Chinese language website, www.xindaohualv.com, to showcase New Zealand's luxury offerings.

Gervois said there were 960,000 millionaires in China with a net personal worth of over $2m - 4000 with a net worth of more than $200m - and travelling was their favourite leisure activity.

They wanted the high life, to travel in helicopters or limousines, stay in the best lodges, shop in the best stores and dine in the best restaurants. During their stay in New Zealand they could be expected to spend anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000.

"There is a new generation in China of very affluent people with very big incomes," Gervois said. "They want to enjoy a luxury trip and budget is not really an issue. They want the best quality and they are prepared to pay for it."

In a bid to capitalise on the aspirational Asian market, Lodges of New Zealand - the body which represents the country's top 27 luxury lodges, is next month attending the invitation-only ILTM Asia tourism trade show in Shanghai, which attracts luxury travel buyers from around the Asia Pacific.

Lodges of New Zealand chairman Murray McCaw said the trade show was like no other when it came to the inbound luxury tourist market and it was important New Zealand was there to showcase its luxury offerings.

McCaw said luxury was not only about the property but the experience in its entirety and New Zealand's top lodges were not only sited in exquisite locations but also provide first-class, personalised service and the finest Kiwi cuisine.

"Asian tourists have an expectation when it comes to service and the feedback we've received from Asian guests is telling us that we're getting it right," said McCaw, who believes the way to attract more Asian tourists is to show them the outstanding offering available in New Zealand.

"New Zealand will never be a glitzy Monaco or Paris but what we do have is open space, mountains and spectacular landscapes, all of which people from around the world have been visiting New Zealand to see for decades."

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HOW MUCH FOR A NIGHT'S LUXURY?

Queenstown's Blanket Bay, consistently voted one of the world's best lodges, costs from $1590 to $2950 per night during the peak season but you get use of the lodge's sports equipment and facilities, breakfast, pre-dinner cocktails and dinner.

The cheapest accommodation at iconic Huka Lodge, near Taupo, will set you back $795 a night, with prices rising to $4650 a night for couples wanting to stay in the lodge's best accommodation. The room rates include use of all the lodge's facilities, breakfast, cocktails, a five-course dinner and Taupo Airport transfers.

At Kauri Cliffs, in Northland, rates for a deluxe suite range from $1190 to $1850 per person per night during the peak season. A discounted winter rate of $700 a night per couple is being offered to New Zealand residents. The rate includes a day of unlimited golf or a 50-minute massage for each guest, pre-dinner drinks, a gourmet dinner, full breakfast, complimentary non-alcoholic minibar and use of all lodge facilities.

At historic Otahuna Lodge, on the outskirts of Christchurch, couples can expect to pay between $1700 and $2100 a night. For that money you will get full use of the lodge's facilities, pre-dinner drinks and canapes, a five-course degustation dinner with wine pairings to accompany each course, and breakfast the following morning.

Note: Rates do not include GST.

- Sunday Star Times

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