Azur de force

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Ralph Lauren’s favourite lodge up for tender.

An international tender process is about to bring a low-key but highly rated Queenstown luxury lodge into the limelight.

The address – 23 Mackinnon Terrace, Sunshine Bay – might sound unspectacular, but in fact Azur Lodge sits in a secluded location five minutes’ drive from central Queenstown.

Comprising a main lodge and nine bungalow-style villas designed to maximise lake and mountain views, the 1.44ha property is valued at $9.8 million.

Sales consultant Camron Meade from Browns Sotheby’s Inter­national Realty’s local office, says the owners aren’t distressed vendors in these tough economic times.

Nejat Sarp and Anthony Ross, both experienced hoteliers, “haven’t got the time to spend the take the property to the next level in a market that’s becoming more competitive”, Meade says.

Both owners were based in Singapore when they opened Azur four years ago. Ross is now general manager of a new boutique hotel in Beijing called The Opposite House and Sarp is in charge of accommodation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, Canada.

Meade expects interest from lodge owners, though someone might just want to use it as a large home.

As the nightly summer tariff of $1462.50 suggests, Azur sells itself on luxury.

Each 83sq m villa includes a 10sq m sun deck, super-king sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets under Thai-silk headboards, and a bathroom equipped with dual vanities, rainforest shower heads and spa tubs that can be enjoyed outdoors.

The main lodge includes three fireplaces, several living areas, a library and a large kitchen that serves breakfast and canapés in the evening.

The design, by veteran local architect John Blair, features silver beech and board and batten stonework, giving the whole lodge a cabin feel.

Azur has notched up plenty of awards and top-class reviews. This year it was voted the Best Hidden Gem in the South Pacific by TripAdvisor website.

Meade: “There are heaps of accommodation options in Queens­town, so to be recognised over your peers is pretty substantial.”

Azur has also had a high annual occupancy, Meade says. One of the first guests was fashion designer Ralph Lauren, who flew to Queenstown by private jet to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife and three children.

Consent is also in place for more dwellings amidst the native trees and shrubs.

Meade believes Azur’s central location will make it even more special as Queenstown continues to grow.

By Queenstown real estate standards, the marketing programme for Azur will be substantial.

There’ll be advertising throughout Asia, especially Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong, Dubai, the United Kingdom, the west coast of America, South Africa and Australia as well as New Zealand, Meade says.

Azur will also be promoted through Sotheby’s International Realty’s 475 offices worldwide.

Meade believes extra buyer interest could be created by the lower Kiwi dollar, recent political changes in NZ and the US, and the country’s reputation as a safe haven.

Meade says Azur’s owners have tentatively had the lodge on the market for the past 12 months, “but I suggested a focused tender campaign with a timeframe might be beneficial”.

The tender, designed to coincide with the peak summer season, will close on January 30.