Hastings lodge has hosted royalty

3:51 PM Friday February 16, 2018 Paul Charman

Built in 1898, the lodge sits on about 29.5ha of freehold countryside. Photo / Supplied

The land, buildings and business encompassing a North Island exclusive luxury lodge, which once hosted the Queen Mother during a tour of New Zealand, is now for sale.

Deemed a “jewel in the crown” of Hawke’s Bay’s tourism sector heritage, Greenhill Lodge is an executive venue about 15 minutes from Hastings, catering for a mix of wealthy New Zealanders and international guests.

The plush turn-of-the-century venue at 103 Greenhill Rd, RD4, Hastings, has five luxurious guest rooms — with nightly individual rack rates for two people in the high season ranging from $1190 to $1560 per room. The lodge also has a two-bedroom stand-alone cottage.

Built in 1898, the pioneer-styled lodge — complete with an imposing three-storey tower — sits on about 29.5ha of freehold rolling countryside overlooking manicured gardens and rolling pastures.

Greenhill was once part of the enormous Maraekakaho Station before it was subdivided off by Scottish pioneering farmer Archibald McLean who had the homestead built. Following the conclusion of World War I, the home’s gardens were landscaped by colonial New Zealand gardener Alfred Buxton, whose signature design was the property’s long winding tree-lined gravel driveway.

Buxton planted several exotic tree species — many of which are now listed within Hastings District Council’s plan as substantial groves, including white fir, Spanish fir, medlar, almond, and holm oak. He also created a Japanese pagoda.

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New accommodation must replicate the existing pioneer-style design. Photo / Supplied

Greenhill Lodge’s most famous guest was the Queen Mother, who stayed for two nights in 1958. Her residence at Greenhill was marked by the raising of the royal standard from the tower flag pole at the top of the viewing tower, which is accessed by an ornate stairway in the middle of the homestead.

The property and business are being jointly being marketed for sale through an international tender closing on March 27 through John Greenwood of Bayleys Auckland and Fiona Mackenzie of Bayleys Havelock North.

Greenwood says the heritage classification of Greenhill Lodge limits the amount of refurbishment or expansion work that can be undertaken on the main homestead with its matai floor and kowhai panelling;  but, the expanse of surrounding land offers scope for adding new accommodation.

“Any new commercial accommodation amenities could be new-builds replicating Greenhill’s existing pioneer-style design, by bringing in suitable relocatable cottages from that late 1800/early1900 era, or going totally modern,” he says.

“Adding guest rooms would allow Greenhill Lodge to host more and bigger corporate events or functions, and add to the guest capacity for weddings. The template for this, Greenhill’s two-bedroom cottage, already operates as if it was part of the main building.

“For corporate functions, Greenhill Lodge is constrained to hosting up to 10 guests in its dining room, so the addition of a bigger function facility elsewhere on the property could also be a development option alongside potential accommodation expansion,” Greenwood says.

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The lodge can host 10 guests in its dining room but there’s room for expansion. Photo / Supplied

He says much has been invested into Greenhill Lodge by owners over the past 17 years, with the installation of heat pumps, bathroom underfloor heating; fire extinguishers; and new decor and furnishings in most of the guest bedrooms and communal spaces.

Greenhill Lodge is marketed under the high-end Small Luxury Hotels of the World brand and licensed to serve liquor to guests dining in-house, and at wedding functions. Membership of the Small Luxury Hotels affiliation can be transferred over to any new owner of the business following a routine quality audit.

“Both occupancy levels and room rates have grown as a result of investment in Greenhill Lodge’s guest amenities over the past six years, along with marketing through the Small Luxury Hotel network which appeals to high net-worth free independent travellers,” Greenwood says.

There are only seven New Zealand properties that are members of the Small Luxury Hotel alliance. Greenhill Lodge is the only venue in the North Island and the remaining six are scattered across the South Island.

The business employs two full-time food and beverage staff, a housekeeper, and gardener. Owner/manager’s accommodation at Greenhill Lodge consists of two separate bedrooms, kitchenette, and lounge area within the main homestead. The property’s former stables have been converted into a gym, and guests have access to an inground swimming pool and fireside outdoor dining area.

“The Buxton gardens are highly respected by horticulturalists for Alfred Buxton’s use of curving forms, which include formal and informal elements; and keeping the homestead hidden until the last moment when coming up the driveway. Buxton also promoted the use of native trees among the earlier-planted exotics,” says Greenwood.

“The lodge could also be reverted back to a luxury private residence — which could be let out through the likes of Airbnb when not in use by its owners,” he says.