Blanket Bay, Paradise, New Zealand

Luxury Adventures are conducting a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. Blanket Bay is a luxury Lodge located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in a little town called Glenorchy, South Island, New Zealand.

You’re located right next to a couple of key areas and attractions in the Queenstown region namely The Routeburn Track and Dart River making your location highly desirable, what other opportunities await guests staying at Blanket Bay. The hands down favourite is the helicopter scenic flight to Milford. The helicopter lands on the front lawn, just like home, and whisks you away for a magical journey over the beech forests to glaciers, the west coast and over the New Zealand icon Milford Sound. The helicopter lands three times. The trip can be shared with others or a private charter. A less expensive option is the Fly-Cruise-Fly with a fixed wing aircraft from the Glenorchy airstrip adjacent to the lodge.
– In the summer Blanket Bay is the perfect location for dry fly fishing, the famed Greenstone River is just across the lake from the lodge.
– For the more adventurous River Surfing in a tributary to the Routeburn River is a must.
– If you Skydive at Blanket Bay you land on the front lawn…. just like home!
– In winter, heli-skiing originates from the lodge in the mountains all around us.

Blanket Bay is one of the original Luxury Lodges in New Zealand opening back in 1999, and Philip you’ve been there since the beginning, what major changes and trends have you seen in the industry over your time there? The South Island has become a destination in itself. This is mainly due to the enormous increase of air lift into town. Gone are the days of packaging Australia and New Zealand in a two week holiday. 10 days in this region is quite normal. Complimentary fast wifi access is expected. People now travel with multiple devices. Internet research is fundamental to the decision making process. Brochures are a thing of the past. We last printed in 2003.

As you’re located 45 mins out of Queenstown dining is an integral part of the experience – run us through your cuisine philosophy at Blanket Bay and what our guests can expect dining there? We change every night The Blanket Bay å la carte menu every night, it offers different taste sensations that constantly feature the best of local meats and seasonal produce. The food is prepared by an all-star line-up of award-winning New Zealand chefs and fits in with the general mise-en-scène: sophisticated but casual, refined without calling too much attention to itself. The menu is presented and served at individual tables in the Lakeview Dining Room, within the intimate atmosphere of the Wine Cave or weather permitting, on the patio overlooking the lake. Within the nightly five-course menu, expect to dine on local delicacies such as Canterbury Quail, Hawkes Bay Lamb Short Loin, Milford Sound Crayfish, Farm Raised New Zealand Venison, and Char Grilled Mahi Mahi. Creamy New Zealand cheeses make nightly appearances on the dessert menu, washed down with some of the finest wines for which New Zealand has become famous.

One of the aspects we like about Blanket Bay is that you’re located roughly along the flight path to Milford Sound making a helicopter pick up/drop-off on the front lawn very easy with no additional expense. What other helicopter flight seeing options do you personally recommend? Apart from inter-lodge transfers the trip to Doubtful Sound is sensational. Other uses of the helicopter are: Heli-fishing, Heli- biking, heli-hiking, heli-proposals, and, as a result, heli-weddings, heli-shopping to Queenstown and oddly once heli-burger to Fergburger!

Earnslaw Glacier near Blanket Bay

Interestingly Blanket Bay was the first property we starting working with over 10 years ago now, how have things changed at Blanket Bay since this time? The Market mix has changed. In the early years the guest demographic was USA and UK dominant. We now have a greater global and domestic spread of visitors. The most notable change is the increase of Australians. We have kept ‘the model’ pretty much the same. It is gratifying that we still have key members of the Blanket Bay team who have been with us from the start. That said we have moved with technology ensuring we offer up to date facilities and amenities.

There is a lot of competition in Queenstown when it comes to luxury accommodation (probably the most in NZ). What sets you apart from the others and why should people choose to stay at Blanket Bay?
– Location: Blanket Bay borders the National Park. We are actually the closest lodge accommodation by air to Milford Sound
– Activities: All the activities are on property. The helicopters land on the front lawn, the jet boat picks up from our jetty, Sky Divers land on the front lawn, the stables is on site, the fishing is all around us, the heli skiing goes from the front lawn, the hikes like Routeburn are close by.
– Infrastructure: The no-expense-spared construction of Blanket Bay sitting within 60,000 acres of privately owned land sets it aside from the smaller lodges in Queenstown
– Staff: The staffing/guest ratio, we employ 40 staff for 26 guests (Six of whom are chefs)
– Privacy: The exclusivity of Blanket Bay, only resident guests can enjoy the property
– Facilities: The facilities include a lap pool, spa, games room, superb accommodation and wonderfully comfortable dining, bar and lounge areas
– Reputation: Blanket Bay is internationally recognised as the leading lodge of the South Island, many say New Zealand

Queenstown has a certain allure about, personally its one of my favourite places in New Zealand for a variety of reasons. As you live there and know it well what makes it special for you? Quite apart from its spectacular setting, Queenstown is the jewel in the crown featuring the best New Zealand has to offer. The variety of activities is unmatched. These activities suit all ages of every level of fitness. In addition Queenstown has come of age in its sophistication. The number of New Zealand and ethnic restaurants complimented by a selection of highly respected vineyards offers visitors and residents the greatest choice of lifestyle anywhere in the country. The growth of the flights into Queenstown from Australia and Auckland have resulted in more frequent and varied services at more affordable prices. This benefits not just the visitor but the residents.

What does the future hold for Blanket Bay? Blanket Bay will retain its place as one of the top lodges of its type in the world. The location will continue to offer the visitor to New Zealand all of what the country is famed for. Stunning setting. Amazing variety of activities. World class accommodation, food, wine and service. When construction was completed the builder said ‘this place will be around in 100 years’ and so we shall!

Apart from the Southern Lakes region what two other destinations in New Zealand would you personally recommend visiting and why? Abel Tasman, Golden Bay, Marlborough Sounds and The Bay of Islands. When you stand on the London Underground platform waiting for your train you gaze across the line at the posters advertising 100% Pure New Zealand. The images are all of these areas. This is what the country is renowned for: the story is one of beauty, space, individualism, peace, clean air and water and a sense of personal fulfilment and time. That’s what you will find in these all places.

When ever I’ve stayed at Blanket Bay the service has been up there with the very best lodges in NZ, how do you maintain this standard? I surround myself with passionate people who know what they are doing, enjoy what they are doing, love where they are doing it and are recompensed well for what they do.

Whos been your most memorable guest? Tony Townley!

Philip Jenkins is the Manager of  Blanket Bay located 45 mins north west of Queenstown.

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.

Blanket Bay heli picnic


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