WHAT’S IT LIKE? The Rees is named after William Gilbert Rees, who was one of the first Europeans to settle in the Queenstown area in the 1860s, and opened in July 2009. It is a sophisticated, high-end hotel that manages to be warm and inviting at the same time. This is helped by the fact that the staff have Kiwi charm in abundance, and when I stayed, general manager Mark Rose (dressed in a shirt and shorts) went to every effort to make me, and the other guests I saw him talking to during my stay, feel welcome.
The cosy lobby has armchairs, bookcases, a fireplace and panoramic views through a glass end wall. Guest rooms and apartments are accessed by covered outdoor walkways and through private doors, rather like a residential block, so feel self contained. Everything looks clean and new with neutral décor and the latest technology.
WHERE IS IT? Queenstown is located in Otago, in the southwest of the South Island, and only one hour 50 minutes by air from Auckland in the North Island.
The Rees is not as centrally located as some hotels, which are dotted around the bay, but it does enjoy incredible views of the nearby Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkable Mountains. It’s 4km away from the airport and about five minutes by car to the centre of town. (There is a free shuttle service every morning.)
ROOM FACILITIES All bedrooms come with carpets made from New Zealand wool, LCD television with 30 Sky channels and 50 on-demand movies, super-king-size beds (that are very comfy), free wired and wifi internet, minibars, iron/ironing boards, robes, safes, JBL iPod docks, solid wood furniture, bathrooms with walk-in showers and under-floor heating, and balconies. I was very pleased with my Executive Lake View room, which had a fresh ambiance and was filled with light from the huge windows at the end of the room. Apartments come with extras such as fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens, a chef and waiting staff, laundry facilities, and lounges and dining areas.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The Bordeau [sic] Wine Lounge offers access to a cellar of both New Zealand and top-rated French vintages from various regions across Bordeaux. The Kiwi pinot noir, in particular, is excellent. Guests can also order cheese platters, tea, coffee, pastries and scones here. The True South Dining Room offers an à la carte breakfast from 7am – I had a very good egg-white omelette here, along with juice and fruit from the modest buffet – and seasonal haute cuisine with a menu that changes monthly.
Dishes range from the likes of pumpkin and coconut soup with Bluff oyster fritter (NZ$19/£9.60), Cardrona Merino lamb neck and shoulder with beetroot, pear and celeriac (NZ$38/£19), and Regal salmon with roast cauliflower, bulgur wheat, lemon and capers (also NZ$38). Vegetarian options are available on request. Although the décor of the restaurant is simple, once again, the views of the lake and mountains are all you will be looking at anyway. Room service is available around the clock.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The on-site conference and meeting centre has full catering services and can host private dinners of up to 40 people. The WG Rees Executive suite can be used for breakouts. Wifi access is available throughout and there is electronic audio-visual presentation systems, plenty of natural light and video-conferencing.
LEISURE FACILTIES If you are in Queenstown for an incentive trip or holiday, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to activities in the surrounding area. There is everything from jet boating, rafting, fly fishing and kayaking to bungee jumping, sky diving, heli-skiing and mountain biking, and the hotel concierge can help make any arrangements you want and there is no charge or commission (just pay for the activities on check-out). If you need to relax after a day in the great outdoors, the Rees has a day spa on level four. There is also a gym.
VERDICT I don’t think I have ever felt more welcomed at a hotel than I did here. The staff were all extremely friendly, professional and helpful. The luxurious and minimalist interiors contrast nicely with the dramatic, colourful landscape outside. A must-try property if you are staying in Queenstown.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 60 hotel rooms across three categories (40 sqm Executive Non Lake View, 30-35 sqm Lake View and 40 sqm Executive Lake View) and 90 one- to three-bedroom apartments across nine categories including some with lake views and some without. They range from 60 sqm to 120 sqm.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The stunning views from a huge floor-to-ceiling set of sliding glass doors that also open on to a spacious balcony. The broad solid wood workdesk and lounge area was also welcomed, as was the free wired/wifi internet access and iPod dock.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in October started from NZ$205 (£103) for an Executive Non Lake View room.
CONTACT The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments, 377 Frankton Road; +64 3450 1100; therees.co.nz