Luxury lodges cater to rich celebrity clients

5:00 AM Saturday November 29, 2014 Colin Taylor

Lake Okareka Lodge near Rotorua.

Two of New Zealand’s luxury lodges – one charging $10,000 a night and the other having hosted American film stars and a former US president as trout anglers – have been placed on the market for sale.

The upmarket tourism destinations of Lake Okareka Lodge near Rotorua, and Tongariro Lodge in the Central North Island, are being sold as business going concerns owned by separate vendors.

In both listings, the land, buildings and businesses are being marketed by Chester Rendell of Bayleys who specialises in lifestyle and high end hospitality and tourism properties and businesses; and the two lodges are featured in the agency’s latest Waterfront magazine.

Rendell says it is purely coincidental he has been appointed to manage the process simultaneously for the pair of lodges.

“Both properties cater to high-end tourism but they are targeting different sectors of the luxury market – one a small and intimate lake-side establishment and one squarely patronised by trout fishers and their partners,” Rendell says.

True Commercial - Lake Okareka Lodge near Rotorua - drawing room.jpg

Drawing room at Lake Okareka Lodge.

The bigger of the two properties is, Tongariro Lodge on a bank of the Tongariro River at the southern end of Lake Taupo.

“This venue was established in 1982 and has an international reputation as a trout fishing lodge,” says Rendell who is selling the property and business by negotiation.

The lodge comprises a main complex along with management and accommodation infrastructure, plus 10 chalets and one three-bedroom villa on nine hectares of landscaped river frontage grounds.

The main building contains three dining areas, a bar, and guest lounge, capable of serving up to 110 guests. On-site amenities include a spa pool, tennis court, and helipad.

The lodge business also has the right to reserve an additional 16 privately owned standalone two to five-bedroom villas on the grounds. However, these units will remain privately-held and are not part of the lodge sale.

Up for sale in conjunction with the accommodation business is the trout fishing guiding business, which includes a boat and raft, contracts with specialist guides, and fly fishing access.

True Commercial - Tongariro Lodge - elevated wide horizontal.jpg

Tongariro Lodge is on a bank of the Tongariro River.  

Among the Who’s Who of guests who have stayed at the lodge are former US president Jimmy Carter, and Hollywood movie stars Liam Neeson, Larry Hagman, Timothy Dalton and Robert Mitchum. Rates for a night at the lodge range from $285 per person to $685 with the tariff including accommodation, a four course dinner and a cooked breakfast.

Rendell says Tongariro Lodge has considerable revenue upsides with resource consent granted to develop an additional 14 stand-alone accommodation units or separately owned dwellings on three hectares of lodge owned land. It also has additional resource consent for three further accommodation blocks and a separate manager’s unit and administration building.

“After building and owning Tongariro Lodge continuously for some 32 years and developing an excellent reputation, the owners have ‘done their proverbial dash’ and are looking to sell up and enjoy their retirement,” Rendell says

“However, they have laid the groundwork over a number of years for a new owner to come in and take the business to a new level.”

The second lodge for sale is Lake Okareka Lodge on the northern fringe of Rotorua’s urban boundary. The remote three-suite venue sits adjacent to Lake Okareka, and is booked by guests wanting privacy, pampering, and relaxation in the 657 square metre residence where bedrooms are similar in size to an average one-bedroom New Zealand flat. Lake Okareka Lodge’s owners also operate a five-star luxury hotel in Bangkok.

True Commercial - Tongariro Lodge - chalet and fly fishers.jpg

A Tongariro Lodge chalet.  

Rendell says the Thai-owned venue has a standard rate of $10,000 per night to book the entire lodge and the business is target marketed at mature, wealthy, European and South-East Asian free-independent-travellers (FITs) and corporates with two nights being an average stay.

“It could also be purchased by a private buyer and converted back into a magnificent residence or luxury holiday home.”

He says the lodge was established to cater for guests demanding something totally different from the city’s standard five-star accommodation offerings.

“Lake Okareka Lodge is one of the most exclusive lodges sitting around Rotorua’s periphery, serving a niche clientele that is seeking a highly-personalised yet discreet level of service. “After developing the lodge the international owners are now looking at other opportunities offshore and are divesting of this property as one of their New Zealand assets.”

Rendell expects strong local interest in the lodge properties and businesses from existing domestic tourism operators pointing out that the boutique and high-end nature of both venues are traditionally favoured by owners of European descent who have moved to New Zealand for lifestyle choices.

“We’re not talking mum-and-dad styled B&B operations, but very professional entities with high service standards, international marketing affiliates to inbound-visitor tour chains, and strong networks in the New Zealand conference and incentive travel sectors,” he says. 

True Commercial - Chester Rendell of Bayleys.jpg (1)

Chester Rendell, Bayleys.