Eichardts House Bar, Queenstown

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. Eichardts Private Hotel on Marine Parade is an iconic Queenstown institution that locals and international visitors alike gather too enjoy the ambience of the house bar, and if you’re fortunate enough stay upstairs in what we think is the finest hotel in New Zealand.

Eichardt’s is an iconic old building, it must have a very rich history, can you tell us more about the history and background of the building and hotel? From humble beginnings in the 1860’s as a woolshed, Eichardt’s has been a pub, nightclub, bar, hotel and all things in between; when Albert Eichardt won a gold nugget in a lottery in 1872 he purchased the hotel and started a legacy.  Eichardt’s has been a focal point for travellers to Queenstown ever since due to its envious position.

Eichardt’s was styled by the renowned New Zealand interior designer Virginia Fischer who also designed Huka, Wharekauhau, Cape Kidnappers, Matakauri among others. Does this style continue through the more recently added lakefront apartments and The Eichardt’s Residence? There is certainly a similar feel to the Residence and Lakefront apartments, that is some of the themes are carried through from the hotel, but both have their own look and feel.  Modern and spacious, with stylish touches borrowed from Eichardt’s such as the possum skin throws.

Eichardt’s bar is a real Queenstown icon, and we always recommend clients should visit for a cocktail, my favourite is the Eichardt’s Mule, what other cocktails are a must! Espresso Martinis are so hot right now for a late night pick-me-up! Early in the evening try a classic Negroni; Gin, Campari and Martini-Rosso, a beautiful aperitif – and of course for winter you have got to have a warm glass of our Mulled Wine, its superb.

Eichardt’s is in a fantastic location, right on the lake front and due to its fortunate location very close to the action. Other than dining at Eichardt’s bar which other restaurants in Queenstown do you currently recommend? Queenstown is fortunate to have some amazing dining options, it has become a real gourmet destination.  We are sending a lot of diners to Jervois Steak House, Rata and Botswana, and a new favourite Sasso just round the corner.  In summer the waterfront is a hit of course!

Eichardt's Private Hotel Insignia

I loved my stay at Eichardt’s, it was the little things that made it, like the port and cheese being left in my room, the fire being lit and the turndown service. The staff were excellent, friendly and professional. How do you manage to maintain these levels of service? A lot of planning goes into every guest’s stay from arrival to departure – and there is a lot of running around behind the scenes to make it seamless from the guest’s perspective.  Our team are genuine hospitality professionals, practiced at looking outside the square and anticipating the unknown – we like to think we know what you want before you want it!  Eichardt’s is a great place to work and the team all want to live up to the standards expected.

What top three outdoor pursuits do you recommend to guests staying at Eichardt’s? My favourite activity has to be heliskiing – you just cant beat it in winter, or a scenic flight in summer!  After that, jetboating is a fantastic thrill, and I also love Paragliding off the top of Bobs Peak behind the gondola.

For our overseas clients on a 2 week New Zealand itinerary, other than Queenstown where do you consider as a must visit location? The Coromandel in the North Island is a coastal paradise with so many different aspects. The far North and Fiordland are my two other favourite spots.

Eichardt’s have great accommodation options with the lake and mountain view suites in the hotel and the lake front apartments, now also the Eichardt’s Residence. Can guests of the apartments and Residence also utilise the hotel facilities? Absolutely, all of our accommodation options are part of the Eichardt’s family and are fully serviced.  The Apartments and Residence give guests a more independent experience and the convenience of kitchens which is great for families, allowing for self catering.  A lot of resorts out there have rooms further away from the main reception & restaurant areas than the apartments are from the hotel, you certainly don’t need a golf cart to come in for cocktails in the evening!

In my opinion Eichardt’s oozes a certain sophistication that’s not paralleled by many other luxury establishments in New Zealand. What is the reason for this? We have something that most don’t, a city location rather than a rural lodge setting.  This is quite unique, and means that while we share a lot of characteristics with the luxury lodges, Eichardt’s retains a snappy urban feel and chic atmosphere.  Many of our guests come to us at the end of an itinerary that includes one remote lodge after another and are dying for a bit of town atmosphere and hustle & bustle – that’s not to say that the lodges aren’t doing a great job, but it does put Eichardt’s in a very different category.

Have there been any famous guests stay you can tell us about? Over the years there have been a few kept under wraps – but we are more a home to captains of industry and politics rather than Hollywood types.

Eichardts Private Hotel from Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

There are a few world class accommodation options in the Queenstown region, what sets Eichardt’s apart from the rest? As well as the history of the building, the location is second to none right on the lakefront.  Often guests have come to Queenstown at the end of longer itineraries including a number of remote lodges and comment that it is invigorating to be in amongst the hustle & bustle of town, with shops and restaurants at their fingertips, while still retaining the lodge service and ambience that we are famous for.

What does the future hold for Eichardt’s, are there any new developments you can tell us about? We’re always on the look out for other similar properties to incorporate into our collection, including in other cities.  Locally we are exploring site development options which I can’t say too much about just yet!

From the many awards that Eichardt’s has received which are you most proud of and why? I like the quirky one received a couple of years ago – Top 10 Bars in the World With a View – by Tatler magazine of London, very specific! We are shortlisted as a finalist in the World Luxury Hotel Awards which will be announced in August – a great nomination to receive.

Chef Will Eaglesfield recently joined the Eichardt’s team, we understand Chef Eaglesfield has worked in the hospitality industry in Queenstown for a number of years. What can we expect to see that’s new on the Eichardt’s menu and what is Wills signature dish? Will joined us at the start of the year from Amisfield, which is renowned in its own right, and we are extremely excited to have him on board.  Rather than a signature dish, Will has a style and ethos which defines his work.  It’s all about local ingredients, foraged wherever possible to create dishes that showcase the best of the region.  Eichardt’s now cure and smoke our own bacon, prosciutto, pancetta and salmon, bake our own sourdough English muffins, brioche and ciabatta, and of course all our own preserves and relishes.  He has great contacts among a legion of smaller boutique suppliers that keep coming up with new and exciting ingredients – such as our unique Tartare of Tahr fillet, or little pie of wild Fiordland venison and Bluff oysters.  Trial time in the kitchen is fantastic and when all the experiments are happening, there’s some great tasting to be had!

James Cavanagh is the Group General Manager at Eichardts Private Hotel, Queenstown, New Zealand

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.

Eichardts on Marine Parade, Queenstown

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