If sitting in a steaming hot tub drinking red wine while watching the snow fall practically at your fingertips feels a little loved up to you then I suggest you read on to discover one of our favourite Mr & Mrs Smith romantic getaways.
To set the scene, you must imagine it is winter in New Zealand and the snow is gently falling, making Queenstown look like a winter wonderland. It is the month of September and we are travelling in the biggest snow fall they have seen in five years and, for me, the first real snow I have seen in my life.
We find ourselves on a smallish winding road, meandering to the very top of a hill covered in forest green alpine trees. Tucked away, secluded amongst some of the worlds most spectacular scenery, sits Azur. A luxury lodge overlooking Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables range and Cecil and Walter peaks.
To be sure, two small voices from the back seat yelled with crazed excitement at the sight (and who can blame them?) but I’m highly recommending a visit sans kids and here’s why.
How to get there
Azur is located 20 minutes from Queenstown Airport and just five minutes from the downtown area. If you’re not hiring a car, lodge transfers can be organised.
Fellow Australians, in particular, lovers looking to escape…this is merely a three hour flight from Sydney. Qantas offer weekly flights both Business and Economy so a weekend really can be a reality.
Book flights HERE
All nine identical villas are open plan design to make the most of the natural surrounding environment. Scattered down the hillside, each has unobstructed breathtaking views while providing complete privacy. I repeat, complete privacy.
Even though they are family friendly (in fact, the staff were wonderful with the kids) I highly recommend Azur Lodge as somewhere special for the grown ups. Destined to be a romantic getaway or the perfect place to reconnect or share some one-on-one time with someone you care about. There is a stillness and calmness to the place that really connects you to the magic of the wilderness that surrounds you.
If having a bath while drinking wine and reading a book doesn’t count then the list is still long and varied. In fact, there is so much adventure to be had in New Zealand that I am going to narrow it down to activities conducive to action inside your villa if you know what I mean. It doesn’t get more romantic than a scenic flight. Paul and Katherine from Helitours New Zealand offer everything from a private Heli Spa experience to a picnic in Paradise. Book HERE.
Fifteen minutes from Azur are the Onsen Hot Pools overlooking the Shotover River. With a retractable roof star gazing doesn’t get any sexier than this. Lets also not forget the 75 wineries in the region for that long relaxing lunch followed by an in-house massage in your villa.
Start the night with an early evening in the lodge with complimentary canapés made fresh from locally sourced ingredients. A game of chess, a book from the library, a glass of wine on the deck or by the fire as the sun sets. From here you can opt for private dining in your villa or be driven to one of Queenstown’s many restaurants. If you like something a little more local and understated away from the tourist favourites, I highly recommend VKnow which is just around the corner. One of the best dining experiences we had in New Zealand thanks to the stellar recommendations of Remy from guest services.
In the morning, wander up the way to the main lodge for your complimentary breakfast which is personally cheffed to your liking in the open kitchen. Afternoon tea can also be found here in the way of delicious freshly baked treats (the fudge brownie and ice cream was a show stopper).
Your own private villa wrapped in floor to ceiling glass doors and windows that put you in the middle of the New Zealand wilderness. The views are so breathtaking you will need a glass of New Zealand finest to really take it all in (note: provided on arrival). BUT the icing on the cake has to be the spacious spa bath built for two that takes you outside and perches you on what feels like the edge of the world overlooking snowcapped mountains.
Incredible service. There is nothing the team will not help you with. Gavin, who manages the property, was so helpful and passionate about his home town that we discovered so much more about NZ from chatting with him over coffee than the scouring the net. A local always knows.
We must come back in the summer when the snow melts and see what lies beneath. They say it’s a different trip altogether but just as jaw dropping. Maybe this time I will spend more time out of the bath and amongst the great outdoors.
What to Pack
The mood is practical sophistication. Something built for the snow and adventure that you can wear to dinner. Comfort with style. Think Aspen but more down to earth.
A puffer coat that crosses into the realm of fashion | Burberry
Thermals in white or black that can be worn as outer not just under | Uniqlo
Hiking boots that can see snow and still look chalet chic | Isabel Marant Apres ski Boot
A statement knit piece as a jumper or cardigan | I Love Mr Mittens
Gloves that can be worn 24/7 and still look good the older they get, in tan leather of course | Hestra Alpine Leather
Contact the team ahead of time and make the most of your stay. They will help curate your itinerary and activities before you get there. Don’t hesitate to email or call and spend time with them really workshopping what it is you want from your holiday.
How to Book
To book your stay at Azur contact the expert team at Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels who specialise in unique luxury and boutique holiday experiences. They always offer the best travel rates and throw in a little extra goodie on arrival plus their 24/7 chat means you can get information any time of the day no matter what time zone.
Photography by Sam Elsom