Among the gifts in the goodie bags of 2005 Academy Award Oscar winners were complimentary accommodations at the elite, Treetops Lodge & Estate. This luxurious resort may have been a bit out of the way for some since it’s located in a rain forest and a world famous therapeutic thermal region, about a 20 minute drive from Rotorua, New Zealand. And although the staffs’ lips are sealed, it’s a sure guess that actor, Australian born actor, Nicole Kidman, took advantage of this sublime opportunity.
“Haere mai taua te hikoi i te ngahere” – come walk with me in the forest – is the perfect motto for Treetops with its indigenous flora and fauna on and around the property.
Owner John Sax’s dream was that one day he would have a stream filled with trout. And decades later, he has several plus a truly elegant very private, small hotel which opened in 2001.
The Eco-friendly lodge (even their brochure is 100% recycled paper), is located on 1000 hectares (2,500 acres) of secluded wilderness with 7 crystal clear spring-fed streams which cascade through the forest to the valley below.
(If you do want to leave this well managed game and wildlife habitat, the hotel supplies a driver who will take you to Rotorua.)
The only sounds are birds’ tweeting, nature’s alarm clock at about 6AM, some provided by the nectar eating Tui. Occasionally, the hotel’s pet and very over indulged pig can be seen on one of the 8 villa’s terraces, his playground, waiting for a guest to feed him one of the always present apples from the complimentary bowl.
Okay, so there’s no disco or night clubbing. It’s during the daytime when all the activity takes place. Famous Maori herbalist and chef, Charles Royal, has an Indigenous Food Tour where you can learn about herbs and plants, such as Horopito (a seasoning with a chili bite to it) Piko Piko, (one of the many edible ferns) and those known for their medicinal and nutritional properties. Trout fishing (browns, rainbows, and brooks), upland game bird and water fowl shooting and stag hunting are right up there for the adventurous sportive guest as is walking through the various trails among the native 800 year old forest.
For those wanting less challenging activities, they can opt for the newest inclusion- a photo safari.
But it’s the food that really is the sport of choice. The cuisine has a menu designed by Charles Royal and Chef Craig Martin, using locally grown produce.
Evening meals for the maximum 24 guests are served in the formal dark wood paneled dining room. Sitting on the hand tooled leather chairs around the long perfect-for the chalet wood table under a very informal chandelier made of antlers, (a gift from a returning American guest), the ambience is for the discerning traveler.
The atrium for breakfast and daytime snacks is the complete antithesis. Here, the large airy room is decorated with white wicker chairs covered in bright floral prints. The ceiling- high windows are a frame for the cleverly laid out garden that features a small waterfalls, a pond surrounded by locally crafted stones and large beds of herbs.
The Games Room, complete with a full size antique billiard table, also uses memorabilia for its decor. The Library, paneled with wood timber milled on the estate, is an art dealer’s dream as works by some of New Zealand’s famed artists hangs from the dark walls. On a chilly day or night, the leather sofa in front of fireplace is a great place to read a book and have a drink.
However, if you’re yearning for privacy, the suites, 4 Lake or 4 Forest Villas, all have fireplaces, seating areas and a small kitchen. Large floor to ceiling windows overlook the splendid scenery of valleys and lake vistas and the smart interior decoration doesn’t bash you with vibrant, overwhelming color schemes. It’s mellow. A bedside panel allows you to adjust the lights and linger in bed as long as you like. However, it did take two days before discovering the mystery of which button was for what area.
Ecru heated limestone floors are great on those cool mornings as are the two heated towel racks with an abundance of towels of every size. Two sinks, a lot of counter space, gratefully good lighting and magnifying mirror for make-up, allows space for two. Then there’s a huge tub and Jacuzzi, a spacious separate shower with a large shower head. Jars of locally processed lotions, potions and bubble foam sit on the sink’s shelve, in the shower area and on the ledge of the tub.
Above the open kitchen on the second floor is a sports person’s paradise. Small but filled with quality hats, rain gear, jackets, vests, Merino wool sweaters plus an assortment of accessories, it’s a great gift shop.
Rooms have up- to- the- minute flat screen TVs and DVDs are available. Books and magazines are neatly stacked on the coffee table and mantle place. Matches and logs are at the ready if you want to start a warming, atmospheric fire.
There’s a computer available in the Library sits on an antique desk – no charge.
Although there didn’t seem to be any need for room service, it is available. One of the guests had sprained his ankle. There was a flurry of staff coming and going to his suite, catering to his every need and food preference. No complaints from his very mobile room mate. My preference was to get a kick -start the day with the handy coffee maker, the provided good coffee and with mug in hand, from the seating area, watch sun spray the leafy trees with the early morning rays. Afterwards, I’d walk downhill to the Lodge for my morning meal.
Breakfast is a luscious help-yourself spread on the counter and side table. Cereals, fresh and dried fruit, yogurt, a variety of home baked rolls are available each morning and the chef urges guests to order a variety of egg dishes. Bacon, ham and any other morning grub fulfilled the desires of guest’s whim.
Lodge Wing double per person at peak season from September to May is NZ$815, single occupancy is NZ$1,380
Off peak from June to August NZ$490 for double per person and NZ$ 730 single occupancy.
Villas at peak for double twin per person NZ$965 and single is NZ$1,680
Off season Double per person NZ$590 and single NZ$930
Peak for double per person NZ$965 and single NZ$1,680
All exclude government Good & Service Tax of 12.5%
Include breakfast, pre-dinner cocktails, dinner and selected lodge activities
Complimentary loge onsite activities include hiking, jogging trails, nature walks, unguided trout fishing and mountain bike tracks.