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There is a lack of Private Luxury Accommodation in Auckland, you have obviously identified this, who is St Mary’s Residence ideally suited to? Combining our experiences while travelling the world, and research into the needs of sophisticated travellers to New Zealand, we identified a gap in the high-end market to launch an elegant, private and unpretentious retreat. Superb luxury lodge accommodation is dotted around New Zealand, but our desire was to create a unique urban escape showcasing Auckland’s iconic natural, cultural and culinary highlights. Our target audience is the discerning leisure, business, special occasion and celebrity High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth client. Our decision was influenced by Tourism New Zealand’s Premium sector strategy, which is dedicated to attracting the well heeled to our shores.
Our business model is definitely on trend globally, and St Marys Residence is an innovative offering for an urban environment. We’re proud to have developed a fully serviced hybrid that leads the market in Auckland and combines the appeal of a quintessential NZ lodge, luxury inner-city penthouse apartment, and five-star presidential hotel suite. The Residence’s single party reservation policy ensures complete privacy and confidentiality for our guests. Our vision is to create a refined and sophisticated haven they can truly regard as their home away from home.
The tariff at St Marys private residence has a lot of inclusions, can you talk us through this? Our hospitality ethos at St Marys Residence is a guest-centric focus on luxurious comfort over ostentation, and bespoke services and amenities are all included for guests enjoying exclusive use of the property. Customised ‘insider tips’ from our lifestyle concierge showcase authentic Auckland experiences and activities, and our close relationships with the city’s restaurant and style leaders enable us to create special moments for our guests.
A driver service provides luxury airport transfers and personal transportation, and we offer one of Auckland’s most luxurious and leisurely breakfasts, prepared by a renowned private chef experienced in catering to high-end business, leisure and celebrity clients. Complimentary handmade treats combine with Nespresso coffee and exclusive teas from Mariage Frères in Paris, and premium bath and beauty products include local and international ‘star’ brands. Fresh-cut floral arrangements and luxury candles and fragrance diffusers instil a relaxing ambience, and our media offering includes secure ultra-fast broadband wireless internet and a curated international selection of books, magazines, music and movies.
What is the philosophy behind St Marys Residence and the reasons for establishing this property? Our mission is ‘One team, one goal, producing satisfaction one guest at a time’, and it is the practice of getting many small things right that ultimately makes the greatest difference. The Residence’s own team works closely with our trusted external partners to deliver on our vision of exceptional service and ‘laid back luxury’, and no matter where our guests are during their stay in our city, we’ll ensure their enjoyment, comfort and security, and look after them as we would family members or friends.
Food is an important part of the guest’s stay, tell us more about what is on offer at St Marys residence and your executive chef? New Zealand has a stellar reputation internationally as a food bowl with abundant fresh produce, and our trusted suppliers and providores are carefully selected as they understand and support our business objectives and food philosophy. Our Private Chef has previously been Head Chef at a Relais & Chateaux property in New Zealand, and is very experienced in catering to a range of discerning guests and clients. The Residence’s kitchen team has the culinary expertise and confidence to prepare a global repertoire of dishes, and our nourishing and preservative-free meals often harness artisanal, seasonal and organic produce and ingredients.
Our multi-course tasting menus capture an exciting range of flavours and textures, and integrate local provenance, culinary history, and a sense of theatre to the dining experience. Menus can be tailored to guests’ specific dietary requirements and preferences, and we also offer premium wine and beverage collection combining the finest of New Zealand and international brands.
The location is perfect, with stunning views across the harbour, tell us more about the area and its proximity to what Auckland has to offer? St Marys Residence is blessed with a stunning, quintessentially Auckland location, and we’re very privileged to combine close proximity to the CBD with world-class Waitemata Harbour views incorporating the Harbour Bridge, Rangitoto and the Sky Tower. We’re centrally located in one of Auckland’s most charming and fashionable neighborhoods, in easy walking distance to the cafes, bars and restaurants of Ponsonby, and just a short drive from designer shopping and award-winning eateries in the hip Britomart, Federal St and Wynyard Quarter precincts.
From global events like the Volvo Inshore Ocean Race to Wednesday evening’s regular Yacht Squadron races, there’s always something to see on Auckland’s bustling harbour from the Residence’s private roof terrace, and it’s also the place to be when Christmas and New Year’s Eve fireworks fill the sky. Our prime location also provides excellent access to Auckland’s conference facilities, renowned attractions, and key venues for concerts, international shows and major sports events.
Tell us more about the design of the property and what your influences were? We describe the design aesthetic of St Marys Residence as ‘Ralph Lauren meets Auckland via the Hamptons’. The emphasis is on laidback luxury, simplicity and elegance. Architecturally-designed, the stylishly-decorated Residence incorporates spectacular and versatile indoor spaces and fireplaces, and relaxing al fresco lounges, terraces and dining areas. At 341 sq m, the property is also more spacious than a five-star hotel suite or penthouse apartment.
A calming colour palette creates a sense of relaxation, and modern conveniences and home-away-from-home comforts project a warm and welcoming ambience. The Pacific Ocean Master Suite segues to private indoor/outdoor lounge areas to generate an instant feeling of ‘barefoot luxury’ and being on holiday, and there is purposefully no visible clock in the property. The Courtyard Garden incorporates a Zen-inspired water feature, and the Residence also features private outdoor seating in manicured, Mediterranean-style front and rear gardens.
What top five activities would you recommend for guests in Auckland whilst staying at St Marys Residence?
1 A private gourmet picnic at a pohutukawa-shaded and secluded sandy beach that is only three minutes from the Residence. This is a hidden gem in Auckland and often visitors can be the only one on the beach – a rare luxury in an international city.
2 Guests can go with our Private Chef to Auckland’s farmers markets to source NZ artisanal produce and then return to the Residence to cook a dish of their choosing or to watch him cook. Either way, he’s always happy to generously share his culinary expertise and passion with fellow foodies.
3 Travel by ferry or helicopter to our sister lodge on Waiheke Island. The vineyard property is a hidden gem, featuring stunning landscaping and interior design. A country style “plat du jour” lunch is prepared by the host, and guests are personally looked after by the owner and winemaker. A tour of the vineyard highlights the local terroir and the island’s Maori history, and guests can also have the unforgettable working experience on a New Zealand boutique vineyard.
4 Charter a helicopter and take in Auckland’s rugged and unspoilt west coast beaches, and the region’s lush rainforests, extinct volcanoes, expansive harbours and secluded islands. Areas like Matakana and Kumeu also have excellent vineyards to drop in on.
5 For an ultimate girls’ day out, our personal shopper and stylist can arrange designer shopping, celebrity-style hair and makeup sessions, and spa and beauty escapes to reinvigorate the body and soul. Champagne pit stops and tapas at secret dining hideouts help to balance the virtue and vice ledger. Further reading… What to do while in Auckland?
The property would be perfect for holding meetings and events, tell us more about what you are able to offer for this market? St Marys Residence can be used as an exclusive venue for intimate events, private dinner parties and luxury product launches. Our property has a versatile array of indoor and outdoor spaces, and our prime location is close to the CBD but still features easy access and ample parking. We’re very happy to welcome and host special occasions, meetings, weddings and events. Our intimate Den is perfect for private and secure meetings and exclusive interviews.
For those guests that choose to dine out, what 5 eateries would you recommend in Auckland? Our top restaurant recommendations in cosmopolitan and multicultural Auckland include the following: Of course, we also offer private in-house dining catering to our guests’ tastes and preferences.
The French Cafe – One of Auckland’s best restaurants for many years, and featuring wonderful use of seasonal ingredients in a relaxed ambience.
Depot – A bustling inner-city bistro with a strong sense of reflecting New Zealand’s laidback style, and showcasing local produce, seafood, wine and craft beer.
Meredith’s – Always innovative multi-course degustation menus from Michael Meredith, one of New Zealand’s most interesting and talented chefs.
Cassia – Modern spins on traditional Indian cuisine in a convivial, bricklined space in a restored heritage cinema. Also operated by Cassia’s owner Sid Sahrawat is Sidart, very close to St Marys Residence, and worth visiting on a Tuesday night for the restaurant’s always surprising eight-course Test Kitchen menu.
Ortolana – Mediterranean-inspired casual dining in the up and coming Britomart Precinct. Don’t forget to pop around the corner for Auckland’s best desserts at Ortolana’s sister restaurant, Milse.
What experiences do you both draw on from your past lives that enhance St Marys Residence? We have both enjoyed vibrant international careers in the hospitality and corporate sectors. The client and candidate-driven model we pioneered at our successful recruitment agency was the catalyst for the guest-centric culture integral to St Marys Residence. Both of us have enjoyed a multicultural array of wonderful food globally, and these experiences have definitely enriched and shaped our culinary knowledge. We’ve also stayed at some the world’s finest hotels in Paris, London, and throughout Asia and the United States, and now offer corresponding standards of excellence at the Residence.
If you had 10 days to see as much of New Zealand as possible, where would you visit, other than Auckland of course: Here are our recommendations for a stunning ten days in our beautiful country, but the timeframe has meant we have had to exclude a few other wonderful destinations! With just a few more days and a helicopter at our disposal, we’d definitely also recommend visiting the Hawkes Bay region for the rugged Tuki Tuki Valley and lunch at Terrôir at Craggy Range, a detour to Greytown in Martinborough, and also staying at Wharekahau Lodge in Palliser Bay.
Luxury New Zealand:
Arrive in Auckland and settle in at St Marys Residence
Dinner at The French Cafe
Overnight at St Marys Residence
Travel by private floatplane to Waiheke Island for lunch at secluded Man O’War Bay
Relax in the afternoon at St Marys Residence
Dinner at Meredith’s
Overnight at St Marys Residence
Fly to Nelson in the morning
Private and personalised wine tour with lunch at Wither Hills or Herzog
Craft beer tasting in Nelson before dinner at Hopgoods
Overnight at Edenhouse, Motueka
Full day Sea & Air Adventure exploring the Abel Tasman National Park
Overnight at Edenhouse, Motueka
Drive to Kaikoura
Whale-watching by helicopter at Kaikoura
Overnight at Hapuku Lodge, Kaikoura
Drive to the Banks Peninsula
Explore Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula
Overnight at Annandale, Pigeon Bay
Early start to Christchurch to catch the TranzAlpine train through the Southern Alps to Greymouth
Arrive Greymouth and drive to Franz Josef Glacier
Overnight at Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Morning helicopter exploration of the Franz Josef & Fox glaciers and Aoraki/Mt Cook
Afternoon drive to Queenstown
Overnight at Matakauri Lodge
Dinner at Rata in Queenstown
Lunch at Amisfield Winery & Bistro, Lake Hayes
Transfer by helicopter from Queenstown to Minaret Station luxury tented lodge
Overnight at Minaret Station.
At leisure at Minaret Station after a busy nine days.
Options include helibiking, flyfishing, river rafting or just relaxing with the alpine views.
Overnight at Minaret Station
Transfer by helicopter back to Queenstown airport for onward flights home via Christchurch or Auckland.
Manjit Kaur & Michael Coutts are the owners and hosts of St Marys Residence in Auckland.
Tony Townley is a luxury lifestyle specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.