The Central Otago Apartments bring the overwater bungalow to Lake Dunstan. Photo / Supplied
Grant Bradley checks in at the Heritage Collection Lake Resort in Cromwell
Site: Just seven minutes north of Cromwell in central Otago, the resort is a short distance from many area attractions.
Style: Boatshed themed managed apartment that makes the most of its proximity to Lake Dunstan and sits under the imposing Pisa mountain range that separates the area from the Cardrona ski area.
Perfect for: Romantic getaways, memorable family vacations, groups of friends and it also has excellent facilities for corporate retreats in a variety of meeting locations. It touches all the bases.
First impressions: This is built in total sympathy with other houses and the subalpine surroundings. It is difficult to choose this as a hosting because it integrates so easily. The resort is all about the cove that was carved into what was once part of a sheep farm on the shores of Lake Dunstan, which is part of the Clutha hydroelectric project. The 24, 59-room villas sit on large wooden stilts and above the cove where guests can moor their boats, jet skis, or kayaks. Lake Dunstan is popular with anglers targeting brown trout although there is no fishing in the cove. Lakeside villas offer magnificent lake and mountain views.
The place is run with boundless enthusiasm by Anthony Robertson and his partner Lara Cunningham, whose team ensured a hassle-free check-in and fantastic service throughout a two-night stay. He was named Best General Manager for the Australia and Oceania section of the World Luxury Hotel Awards last year, despite being a modest southerner he doesn’t sound that trumpet. Robertson knows the property intimately – a builder, he helped dig the cove around 15 years ago and oversaw the construction of the villas whose configuration has evolved to meet changing market demands.
Rooms: Sleeps up to eight people and separates into one, two and three bedroom accommodation configurations. My one bedroom spa villa had a huge living and dining area that could accommodate eight people; a large sofa and two incredibly comfortable rocking chairs. The room had a king size bed and there were bathrobes. There was a fully equipped kitchen with stove, hob and microwave and all the necessary equipment to prepare anything from the abundant local produce.
Up front was a 45m² terrace with outdoor beds and sofas to stretch out and watch the sun (or moon) rise and set over the lake and mountains. Below the main deck was a very hot jacuzzi and you also have access to a sauna. There are three TVs, in the living room, bedroom and near the spa. If you fancy an overseas experience, this is as close as it gets. It’s an unexpected place in this country – in a good way. It’s quiet, the only noise in the morning being the strange horn of a blue duck. Prices in the spring ranged from $ 180 for a studio to $ 260 for a spa villa.
Bathroom: Large with a double shower and Heritage Collection toiletries.
Food and drink: If you don’t want to cook, Moorings Restaurant is a great option. The bigger eater will be challenged by the portions here; the emphasis is on local meat but good vegetarian options. The beef cheeks slowly cooked for 14 hours and the double stack of pork ribs (on separate evenings) were memorable. The wine list is extensive, again with a local accent. The restaurant has a comfortable indoor / outdoor bar popular with locals who are very friendly.
Wireless: It’s easy to sign up and the zipper is quick.
In the neighborhood: They don’t call it Central for nothing; skiing, boating, wine and the newly developed Lake Dunstan cycle path are right on your doorstep. Central Cycle Trail Co. is running a mini depot in the resort for anyone who wants to hire a bike and explore the area on two wheels, the best way to enjoy it.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, visit newfinder.co.nz and newzealand.com