The Rees is a large, modern property that opened in 2009, but looks nothing like those big, soulless chain hotels. Photo / Provided
Peter de Graaf stays at the Rees Hotel, Luxury Apartments and Lakeside Residences, Queenstown
Location: Next to Lake Wakatipu, 2 km from the center of Queenstown or 6 km from the airport.
Style: Understated luxury with a distinctly Kiwi flavor.
Perfect for: A comfortable getaway in New Zealand’s adventure capital.
First impressions: I arrived late so was taken straight to my room by the staff for whom nothing was too much trouble. They were truly superb – ultra helpful without being obsequious – and seemed pleased whenever I showed up with a request.
Style: Understated and unapologetically New Zealand luxury with lots of exposed wood and shale. The Rees is a large, modern property — it opened in 2009 — but looks nothing like those big, soulless chain hotels.
The reception area is dominated by heavy wooden beams, a library, a huge portrait of the eponymous William Rees and, of course, the view of the Remarkables. You might spot the boss walking around in shorts and a t-shirt – this is that kind of place. Flash but also down to earth.
In case you were wondering, William Rees was one of the first European settlers, credited with founding Queenstown. You’ll see him everywhere, always sporting a huge beard that makes him the envy of any modern-day hipster.
Rooms: The Rees has 60 hotel rooms and 90 serviced apartments. Each apartment has a kitchen, laundry room, balcony, fireplace and up to three bedrooms.
I was booked into an executive lake view hotel room which gave me a king bed (custom made to hotel specifications by Sleepyhead), a sitting area, the usual amenities such only a minibar, a TV with a choice of 200 movies, and a generous balcony overlooking the lake and the Remarkables with sunsets to die for.
Although the main road is not far, the only noise I heard was the strange jet boat crossing the lake.
If you really want to treat yourself – or if you’ve just won the lottery – you can follow the lead of pop star Taylor Swift or the King of Jordan and book one of The Rees’ five lakeside villas, each with three en-suite bedrooms, a jacuzzi and a garage. The villas are completely self-contained but you can still use all hotel services, or even order your own butler.
Bathroom: The highlight of my bathroom was unquestionably the spa tub, positioned by a large window again offering that view. So after a grueling day of skiing, shopping or bungee jumping, you can get gently pounded by the water jets while soaking up the scenery as the sun sets behind the mountains.
Toiletries are Forest & Bird Botanicals, supporting the work of the environmental organization.
Food and drink: I landed late but that didn’t mean I was hungry, thanks to the room service menu all night. I opted for a pizza washed down with a craft beer from the minibar.
At the other end of the scale, the Rees’ restaurant, True South Dining Room, specializes in fresh, local ingredients and has won numerous New Zealand and international awards. Executive Chef Corey Hume has been named Hotel Manager of the Year 2020 for the Australasia/Pacific region by Hotel Management Magazine.
True South’s wine cellar, another regular winner, is one of the best stocked in the country with $1 million worth of wines, mostly from France, New Zealand and Australia. In case you were curious, the most expensive bottle is a 2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a Burgundy priced at $42,000.
Facilities: High-speed Wi-Fi, covered parking, free hourly shuttle to town, well-equipped gym, bike rental, private jetty and concierge service offering a range of activities and private tours. How about a heli-crayfish ride?
In the neighborhood: Charming Lake Wakatipu and the Frankton Track, a popular walking/biking trail linking Frankton to the city center, are directly across from the hotel. It’s a scenic, shady 25 minute walk into town along the lake. There is also a wharf where you can take a water taxi or try your luck catching a trout.
Queenstown’s myriad attractions – jet boating, skiing, steamboat tours on the Earnslaw and the legendary Fergburger, to name a few – are just a short walk or shuttle ride away.
Friendly and family: The independent apartments, with kitchen and laundry room, are ideal for families. Babysitters can be arranged if mum and dad want to disappear on the ski slopes.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible rooms are available.
Sustainability: The Rees runs a series of environmental initiatives. They include supplying milk in reusable glass bottles from a Southland dairy farm; recycle leftover soap through the Soap Aid program for developing countries; compost kitchen waste as part of the Waste to Wilderness initiative; and energy efficiency measures such as the recent installation of a new energy efficient air conditioning system.
The Rees has five-star Enviro Gold accreditation from Qualmark. In 2018 and 2020 it was named the world’s best urban accommodation in the Skal International Sustainable Tourism Awards.
For more travel inspiration, visit newzealand.com/nz.
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