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Blanket Bay 5.0

Glenorchy, South Island, New Zealand

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Review Summary

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  • Sublime lakefront setting with postcard-worthy views
  • Four-season, stone-and-timber lodge with gorgeous grounds
  • Rustic-refined rooms with terraces or balconies, most with fireplaces 
  • Apple TVs and Bluetooth soundbars are standard in rooms
  • Bathrooms have double sinks, tubs and rainfall showers
  • Four handsome dining areas (one alfresco) plus a wine cave
  • Games Room with pool table, TV, and free bar
  • In-house spa and fitness facilities
  • On-site meeting room and business center 
  • Tempting menu of add-on outdoor activities 
  • Rates include breakfast, pre-dinner drinks and dinner 
  • Free parking and hotel-wide Wi-Fi


  • Secluded location isn’t for everyone
  • Lap pool is only open seasonally
  • Spa and gym are small (but well-equipped)

Bottom Line

Built in the style of a grand hunting lodge, this stone-and-timber hotel on the banks of the South Island's Lake Wakatipu offers five-pearl luxury in a stunning alpine setting. Oversized windows in most common areas -- among them two fire-lit dining rooms -- maximize the view, as do the balconies or terraces in the hotel’s 12 rooms. With woodsy-chic decor and modern comforts (such as minibars, Apple TVs, and Bluetooth soundbars), rooms here may be hard to leave. But the property does lure guests out with a games room, a small gym, a spa with a lake-view hot tub, and an outdoor lap pool. Golfing, hiking, fly-fishing, heli-skiing and horseback riding can be arranged, and even more activities are offered 45-minutes southeast in Queenstown. Luxury lovers who want to base themselves closer to the country’s "Adventure Capital" can try the more contemporary Matakauri Lodge instead.

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A luxe, lake-lapped lodge that's at once rustic and refined

Perfectly positioned between mountains and lake, Blanket Bay -- a member of the posh Small Luxury Hotels of the World group -- showcases New Zealand’s dramatic scenery. Aesthetically, though, the main lodge calls to mind another rugged locale: the American Rockies. Designed by an Idaho architect and modeled on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vintage-style Sun Valley abode, it is centered around a great room with an enormous schist-stone fireplace on one side and floor-to-ceiling windows on the other. Antler chandeliers hung from its 30-foot-high beamed ceiling illuminate plump sofas, hand-hewn accents, oil paintings, and antique rugs. A mounted stag’s head, coupled with decorative hunting and fishing paraphernalia, complete the look, creating an old-school atmosphere that’s well-suited to low-key moneyed types who appreciate the great outdoors. It's worth noting that children under 10 are not permitted.  


A postcard-perfect location on the northern end of Lake Wakatipu

When it comes to scenic settings, it’s hard to beat this mountain-backed one on Lake Wakatipu. There’s nothing in the immediate area but natural beauty; however, the quaint frontier town of Glenorchy (a "Lord of the Rings"filming locale and the launch pad for several top hiking trails) is only a five-minute drive north, and Queenstown (dubbed “The Adventure Capital” thanks to the adrenaline-fueled recreational opportunities it offers) lies 45 minutes southeast. Better yet, both land- and water-based activities in the area can be arranged on-site. The former include horseback riding on Wyuna High Country Station, hiking on the Routeburn, or Milford Tracks and cycling into Glenorchy; while the latter range from jetboating into Mount Aspiring National Park and fly-fishing in the Greenstone or Caples Rivers to canoeing on the lake itself. Because of the secluded location, most guests arrive in their own cars, though transfers from Queenstown Airport -- via luxury sedan, helicopter, or small plane -- are also available.

  • Five-minute drive to Glenorchy
  • 45-minute drive to Queenstown
  • 57-minute drive to Queenstown Airport
  • 64-minute drive to Arrowtown
  • Two-hour drive to Wanaka
  • Six-and-a-half-hour drive to Christchurch (55 minutes by plane) 


Luxurious lodge-like rooms with many modern conveniences

Like the common areas, the woodsy guest rooms here have a posh pioneer decor that mixes natural materials with fine, neutral-toned fabrics and eclectic accessories, making them seem rustic and refined in equal measure. At the main lodge, guests can choose between 400-square-foot rooms (each with their own lakefront balcony or terrace) and 700-square-foot suites which add sitting areas, walk-in closets and stone fireplaces. Adjacent to the lodge, a pair of chalets contains four more similarly sized and equipped suites, which can be combined with a state room to double their area. All feature top-shelf amenities including air-conditioning, irons/ironing boards, minibars, coffee/tea-making supplies, digital safes, flat-screen Apple TVs, DVD players, Bluetooth soundbars, free Wi-FI, plus spacious, granite-trimmed bathrooms with double sinks, deep tubs and separate rainfall showers. Use of on-site equipment and facilities, breakfast, pre-dinner drinks and dinner itself as well as free access to a self-serve bar are also included in the room rate. Note that when more space is required, the self-contained Owner’ Residence -- complete with two bedrooms, a full kitchen and adjoining two-bedroom studio -- fits the bill.


A comprehensive assortment of high-end facilities

As you’d expect in a hotel of this caliber, the facilities are top-notch. Take the dining venues for breakfast and dinner, both of which are included in the rate. The former is served buffet-style in a classy yet cozy room appointed with antique accents; while the latter -- a five-course affair focused on local delicacies, prefaced by complimentary cocktails and paired with fine wines -- can be enjoyed either beneath a beamed ceiling in the main dining room, in an even more intimate wine cave with schist-stone walls, or (in temperate months) under the stars on the terrace where an oversized outdoor fireplace provides added warm and ambiance. Afterwards, there are multiple places to relax as well because sated guests can retire to the aptly named Great Room or the Games Room: a wood-paneled space equipped with shuffle board and pool tables, board games, a 60-inch satellite TV, and a free self-serve bar.

Dozens of outdoor activities can be arranged by the staff, including horseback riding, golfing, and fly-fishing (see the Location section above for more). For those that want to break a sweat indoors, there's a gym with a Vectra Multi station and Life Fitness cardio equipment plus an outdoor summer-only lap pool that’s partially walled for the sake of privacy. Each offers stunning alpine views; the caveat is that each is on the small side. Ditto for the spa area, although it does include steam rooms, a lake-view hot tub and a therapy suite where you can book a surprisingly broad range of treatments -- many of them utilizing natural, locally sourced ingredients. For guests who must combine work and leisure, there’s also an on-site business center and meeting spaces: access to A/V equipment, secretarial services and an in-house conference coordinator are welcome bonuses. Wi-Fi is free throughout the premises. 

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Rapid 4191 Glenorchy Queenstown Road, PO Box 35, Glenorchy, Otago Region 9350, New Zealand

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