The Rees is located on glassy Lake Wakatipu five minutes away from the centre of Queenstown on the road from the airport, so is easy to get to and not far from anything. The views from the accommodation are something special.
The property is named after William Rees, who was the founder and settler of Queenstown 150 years ago. After discovering what he called The Promised Land of Rees, he established a sheep farm, eventually converting his woolshed into Queenstown’s first hotel, then went on to build the first government offices, first church, first Masonic lodge, and was instrumental in the development of the first hospital.
Rees was a man of extraordinary achievements – the explorer who literally put Queenstown on the map, the farmer whose merino grazed over more than 240,000 acres of Wakatipu basin land, a first class international cricketer and all round sportsman and an accomplished artist. When the hotel was built in 2008, it was an easy decision to name it after him.
Rooms and interiors
The Rees has 60 hotel rooms and 90 stunning apartments all with private balconies. We are in an apartment and that view is front and centre, and our balcony quite large – the perfect place to watch the planes come in over the lake, wheels down ready for landing. The apartment is style all the way, with gas fire switched on by remote, lush lounges, a swish kitchen cusgtom-built by Arclinea of Italy, large bathroom with Globo porcelain vanities, Spanish tiling and Gessi tapware and a lavish master bedroom with a super king size bed. You can keep the bedroom open to the view or close it off if you wish.
The Rees is currently building The Residences comprising of five luxury Lakefront Villas and four stunningly appointed penthouse apartments. This new addition to The Rees will have its own gated access but will offer the convenience of being part of a fully-managed five-star hotel.
The Rees has serious credibility with its dining, with the award-winning restaurant, True South Dining Room, a real treat. It is very elegant inside and is not cavernous, so the ambience is intimate and refined. Executive Chef Ben Batterbury has built up a following over the years and no wonder, as the meals we had were magnificent. Ben conjures up a menu of dishes based on local produce sourced from the highest quality suppliers in the region and follows sustainable principles.
For a real treat choose the Taste of the True South menu, with Ben and his team selecting six courses based on the fresh produce on the day. The menu is a true southern dining experience for the whole table and is $100 per person – worth every cent.
Our waitress in the award-winning True South Restaurant knew the menu so well, and her advice resulted in what was an amazing meal, capped off with a bottle – or it might have been two – of New Zealand sauvignon blanc.
When you come back after a day out, we highly recommend you relax in the Lounge, with a glass of your favourite drop accompanied by those views and a platter of appetising selections of New Zealand’s finest in-season foods, vegetables, cheeses and condiments.
The Rees also presents some very popular Culinary Series events, with the next two the Beer and Beer Dinner and the Coleraine Series on 15 November 2015. The Coleraine is a five course degustation menu with a vertical tasting of 15 Te Mata Estate Coleraine vintages – 1995 to 2009.
The Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments has that wow factor from the moment you walk in the front door. The Bordeau Wine Lounge is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door thanks to its comfortable lounges, fireplace, and the huge glass wall at the far end that opens up the property to that spectacular view. The Wine Lounge is where you can enjoy wines from world-renown chateaux of Bordeaux – including Latour, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild, Gruard Larose, Malescot St Exupery and Lynch Bages – or the delightful wines of Central Otago and New Zealand that are carefully nestled in the professionally-managed, temperature-controlled wine cellar off to the side. The chefs make up platters of appetising selections of New Zealand’s finest in-season foods, vegetables, cheeses and condiments, and you can also order a perfect coffee, your choice from a wide range of tea, and finish it off with home baked scones and pastries.
The hotel has a wharf which can be used for water taxis, jet boat or fishing charter boat pickups and is a lovely spot to just sit and take in the majesty of the mountains and lake. The Lobby
Located just five minutes out of town – there is a free shuttle from the hotel – Queenstown’s many delights are close at hand. In winter, it’s easy to get to The Remarkables or Coronet Peak – excellent places to ski or snowboard, and for golfers, this place has some world-class courses. Then there’s the endless array of tours and activities in this area – from heli flights over Milford Sound to bungy jumping, horse riding and of course, wine tasting.
What I loved
What we love about the Rees is the ‘can do’ attitude. All the staff we come across are so friendly, eager to please, knowledgeable about the area and obviously enjoy working there. This filters down from the man at the top – Mark Rose – one of the nicest men in the business.
By Helen Hayes