We gel well with our fellow guests and happy evenings are spent with the children playing pool in the games room, leaving parents to enjoy a quiet glass of local Otago red by the fire.
Martyn Myer’s passion for heli-skiing has also given birth to a private alpine chalet located high in the Buchanan mountain range with stunning views of the Mt. Aspiring National Park. Harris Mountain Heli Ski will pick you up by helicopter from Whare Kea’s front lawn and in minutes you are skiing some of the world’s best terrain. At lunch time you call in at the chalet and dine at 5700ft before more skiing and a return to the main lodge.
Aside from the scenery and the service, the other treat is the meals. I’d walk through snowdrifts any day of the week to sample Chef James Stapley’s fabulous food.
Nearest slopes: Cardrona, Treble Cone
MATAKAURI LODGE, QUEENSTOWN
Directly outside the floor to ceiling windows of our room at Matakauri Lodge is the deep jade-green of Lake Wakatipu and beyond that, grand old Mount Cecil framed against a cobalt blue sky. Its snow capped peak looks like a head of white hair, its silvery slopes like an old man’s suit. We call the mountain ‘Uncle Cecil’ for the duration of our stay.
Matakauri is owned by Julian Robertson, who also owns the uber-luxurious Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers. The trio of lodges are some of the most luxurious in New Zealand, yet all are incredibly family-friendly. At the light, bright and stylish Matakauri Lodge family groups are individually catered for, there are no cookie-cutter activities but anything can be arranged from private ski lessons to heli-skiing or sledding. Even when they are not on the slopes children are encouraged to explore the great outdoors away from computers and to enjoy meals in the main restaurant. I like the fact that the lodge literature says, “children...will come away with memories (and manners!) to last a lifetime.”
Matakauri currently has a special Family Heaven package which includes two nights’ accommodation in a luxury suite with interconnecting second bedroom, breakfast, dinner and pre-dinner drinks and canapés priced at NZ$ 5,836 from now until 14th December 2012. Dinner is served family style for your first night, and on the second night parents can take advantage of the four hours of complimentary babysitting with room service meals for the children, and dine a deux. Mum and Dad are also treated to an 80 minute spa special, while the children experience a children’s mini manicure, pedicure or facial.
Some spa treatments are named in honour of the nearby ski slopes. I consider the ‘Glacial Facial’ but in the end decide on the ‘Snowflake Massage’. It sounds a little gentler than the icy facial and promises a dusting of aromatic powder “like the first snowfall”. Eighty blissed-out minutes later I do indeed feel I have sunk into a soft snowdrift and my tried muscles are completely relaxed. The perfect end to a skiing day.
Nearest slopes: Coronet Peak, The Remarkables