Luxury lodge to expand


Blanket Bay is about to become even more exclusive.

The upmarket 13-room lodge near Glenorchy - one of the world’s best-regarded small luxury hotels - is about to add a four-bedroom villa complex for VIP, family and group travellers.

The entire 505 square metre complex will be for hire for about $15,000 a night.

It will include a large communal living and dining area called the State Room, extra bedroom space for those travelling with guests like security staff, a nanny or a pilot, and a shared kitchen facility which a private chef could use.

The extension’s likely to only further add to the lustre of Blanket Bay, which has hosted the likes of Hollywood actor, the late Robin Williams, and English actor Sir Ian McKellen who’s called it “possibly the best [lodge] in the world”.

United States-based founding owner Tom Tusher says the extension is principally to cope with demand.

“We have had to turn away bookings over the past couple of years.”

New manager Tom Butler says they’re also catering for “a niche that’s expecting a little bit more or wanting a different experience as well”.

That includes more privacy.

“We’re doing it in such a way that if people want to stay there and not come down [to the nearby main lodge], that’s fine.”

Anyone wanting fewer than four bedroom suites could also lock off the unused ones.

Each suite will include an outside courtyard, with the State House courtyard also including an outdoor fire pit and entertaining area.

The design, by Dunedin-based Mason & Wales, will include stone, cedar weatherboards and prominent timber trusses, in common with the main North American-designed lodge, which was built in 1999.

Butler: “At the same time, it’s going to be a lot lighter - there’s more glass - and it will be more contemporary than the current lodge.”

The building contract has been let to Queenstown’s Triple Star Management, which recently won a commercial property award for constructing the nearby $25 million Aro Ha Wellness Retreat.

Site works commence this month. The building programme then runs till November, when it takes a break for Blanket Bay’s busiest season of the year.

Building then resumes next April, with the villa complex due to open in December next year.

Meanwhile, Butler says Blanket Bay is building a four-bedroom staff house in Glenorchy.

It already owns six other staff houses in the town and a manager’s house on the lodge’s 20 hectare property.

At peak season, the Blanket Bay employs about 40 staff.