Waiheke boutique lodge awaits new owner’s vision

5:02 AM Saturday February 27, 2016 Colin Taylor

An elevated view of Te Whau Lodge at 36 Vintage Lane, Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island’s boutique Te Whau Lodge has been placed on the market by its original owners who established the business 17 years ago to escape from the fast pace of Auckland city life.

“Business couple Gene O’Neill and Liz Eglinton had Te Whau Lodge architecturally designed and purpose-built as one of the first commercial standard lodges on the island,” says Clive Lonergan of Bayleys Waiheke who is selling the property and going concern business at 36 Vintage Lane for an asking price of $3.65 million plus GST if any.

“The owners wanted to take the guess work out of the sales process and so had the land and buildings independently valued by a registered valuer in December last year. They have based the asking price on this,” says Lonergan.

“Easy to operate, Liz and Gene came to the business with no prior experience in hospitality and have built an enviable business with a high number of return guests – both local and overseas.

“The lodge itself is of simple, clean lines that stand the test of time and allow all its rooms to capture the panoramic sea views.”

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The diningroom and lounge in Te Whau Lodge. 

Occupying about 5.9 hectares of freehold land with uninterrupted vistas over the Waitemata Harbour looking towards Auckland City, the 779 sq m lodge encompasses 424 sq m of enclosed building area with an additional 355 sq m of covered entrance, decks and walkways.

Accommodation facilities at the lodge consist of four double guest rooms each with ensuite and private balcony. The standard nightly rack rate – including canapes and breakfast – is $495 per couple.

“Aucklanders are a cornerstone of the business which is roughly split 50 per cent local and 50 per cent off shore guests,” Lonergan says.

In addition to the four guest rooms, Te Whau Lodge has a commercial grade kitchen which was upgraded last August; a large dining room with seating for up to 14 guests; a lounge with gas fireplace, ample laundry and service areas; plus a two-bedroom owner/manager’s area.

Lonergan says Te Whau Lodge is trading very successfully under its current format but there is potential to expand the accommodation facilities subject to council approval. The lodge is situated on land zoned Rural.

“The topography of the hilltop land and bush surrounding the lodge would allow for a small number of individual upmarket chalets to be developed around the property without interfering with the existing environmental aesthetics,” he says. “Also its relative closeness to Auckland via regular 35 minute ferry services could allow an incoming buyer to combine a lodge lifestyle with a commuting lifestyle,” he says. “The frequency of ferries to and from Auckland has almost doubled in the last two years with in excess of 60 sailings per day.”

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One of the bedrooms within Te Whau Lodge

Lonergan says Te Whau Lodge is not linked to nearby Te Whau Vineyard but the two independently owned businesses complement each other as an island destination.

“Te Whau Lodge’s operators have specifically chosen to avoid competition with the bigger food and beverage-focused hospitality venues on Waiheke as their point of difference. With consents in place to cater for up to 35 guests for functions, the lodge has hosted groups for weddings, conferences, cooking schools, and celebrations. There is also consent in place for helicopter operations to and from the property.”

Lonergan says that more recently the owners have chosen to run the lodge as a lifestyle business and concentrated on the accommodation aspect.

“The sale now presents an opportunity for an incoming buyer to diversify the business again and capitalise on the demand for boutique venues in Waiheke.

“Over the past two decades, Waiheke’s appeal as a leisure, tourism and incentive/corporate travel destination has escalated phenomenally with the island now having a vast array of upmarket food and beverage function venues. However the number of upmarket commercial accommodation providers is still relatively small which underpins the exclusive nature of Te Whau Lodge’s core accommodation business.

“There is still a discerning market which prefers a specialist accommodation provider that will pamper and cater for guests and this is the sector where the lodge has earned its enviable reputation.”

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The lodge features panoramic views from its balconies and rooms. 

Lonergan says Waiheke’s peak summer season originally replicated that of many New Zealand holiday destinations running from December to February but the Te Whau Lodge owners have found the accommodation season now stretches year-round.

“The island’s reputation has been enhanced by articles in newspapers like the New York Times and last year noted travel guide Lonely Planet named Waiheke Island as the fifth best region in the world to visit,” he says.

“Te Whau Lodge has provided a perfect semi-retired lifestyle for Gene O’Neill and Liz Eglinton allowing them to enjoy annual trips to Europe so much that they plan to extend their time travelling.”