Queenstown tourism operator targets premium visitor market with business growth

A well-established Queenstown tour operator is taking a new direction in response to changes in overseas markets and dynamics.

Alpine Luxury Tours, based in Queenstown, is a family-owned and operated business with family connections to Queenstown and the wider Otago region dating back nearly 60 years.

Founder Lee Saunders has a passion for showing people the New Zealand he knows and loves, and that’s evident to all who meet him.

Having grown up in and around Queenstown, he knows the region like the back of his hand, and prides himself on enabling his guests to experience the best of New Zealand in the most private way.

“We have always been about authentic, exclusive experiences thanks to the key relationships we’ve built up over the years,” he says.

“Because of our local connections we have exclusive access to areas where no other companies set foot. If a guest wants to exclusively book out a popular local restaurant, or visit somewhere and not see another soul, then we’re the ones to make it happen.

“We’re seeing an increase in the FIT premium visitor market which doesn’t show any signs of slowing down soon, so we’ve re-branded as Alpine Luxury Tours to focus on the key emerging markets of South East Asia and to cater for Western market growth.”

Mr Saunders says New Zealand now has a high standard of suppliers and partners enabling his company to work consistently at the premium end of the market, a far cry from stale, repetitive itineraries.

“Thanks to these partners we can attract business to superb exclusive locations and know that they will have a consistently outstanding experience at every level.”

The business started operating in 2011 and Lee says growth has been “very rapid”.

“It’s hard work but very rewarding, and working with long-term guides who also have great relationships and inside knowledge means we can customise any adventure at a moment’s notice, and often do!”

Alpine Luxury Tours specialises in privately-guided day experiences for sightseeing, private wine experiences, and hiking or heli-hiking and heli-experiences to some of the most unique, stunning and exclusive parts of Queenstown, Fiordland and Mount Cook National Park.

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Canyon Brewing buzzing over bee initiative

In a corporate social responsibility initiative, Canyon Brewing is sponsoring three thriving beehives in Arthur’s Point, near Queenstown.

Bee the Change founder, Neal McAloon, has placed five apiaries (hive locations) across the district in a bid to help save the bees and grow educational awareness.

Go Orange Marketing Manager Emma Hansen says she’s thrilled Canyon Brewing is part of the initiative.

“Here at Canyon Brewing we want to give back to our Arthur’s Point community as much as possible and Bee the Change seemed a perfect fit.

“On top of helping make a difference in this fight to save the bees, the bees also pollinate nearby fruit trees, providing free fruit for the community in years to come.”

The Arthur’s Point apiary is on the School House Reserve.

Neal says the bees are strategically placed to get the best pollination.

“They’re located in public spaces accompanied by educational signage which will be installed shortly.

“Our future and their future is intertwined. There are many, many diseases increasing around the world so by supporting Bee the Change companies are growing awareness about the importance of bees and what people can do in their own environment to help improve the bees environment.

“The Apiculture industry and bees are under a lot of pressure globally. Our long term mission is to build up strong colonies in the district so when crises strikes around the world we could be in a position to help send apiaries elsewhere.”

Once ready, the honey will be harvested and sold, at a highly discounted rate, back to Canyon and other companies which are part of the initiative.

Without bees other consequences to our food chain would come knocking, which would be dire to food sources around the world

“The global decline of bees is a problem we all face. Without bees we won’t have food so Canyon is doing what we can to help in this fight,” Emma says.

Neal says he is grateful for their support.

“Hospitability businesses take from the food supply which bees are an intrinsic part of. By getting involved with Bee the Change, Canyon is helping with bee resilience.

“It goes in a cycle: Canyon Brewing takes from the environment, bees help create the food they take and now they’re giving back to the honeybee species.”

All businesses and individuals involved with Bee the Change pay an initial start-up fee and then a continuous yearly fee to help with the upkeep of hives.

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Outstanding Wine Experience On Offer At Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa

A stay at Central Otago’s newest luxury lodge would not be complete without an outstanding wine experience.

And that’s exactly what’s on offer at Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa, nestled among the vines in the region’s founding winery.

As Central Otago’s pioneering winery, Gibbston Valley has a deep history of winery excellence and land guardianship, reinforced in recent years with its standing as a BioGro certified organic vineyard, and BioGro certified organic winery.

Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa, featuring 24 villas, a striking central lodge building and separate spa, opens later this month and offers the ultimate in relaxed luxury, fine wine, culinary excellence and 5-star personal service.

Winemaker Christopher Keys says the Lodge & Spa’s Essential Wine Experience is the perfect opportunity for guests to get up close to what the winery team does.

“At the Winery everything is hand-tendered and made, from vine to fruit to wine,” he says.

“By the time each bottle makes it to the table, there are endless stories encapsulated in every glass.  People, place and seasons are captured in our wines, so the Essential Wine Experience is a fantastic way to unravel this, bringing our wines, our people, land and story to life.”

The half-day educational experience, exclusive to Lodge guests, winds through the working core of Gibbston Valley for a behind-the-scenes view of its operation. Sights and smells turn into tastes and chats with winemakers and chefs.

Leaving the sunlight behind to enter New Zealand’s largest wine cave, Christopher says there’s a “sensory change” as guests pass into its depths.

“There’s nothing else like it,” he says. “The atmosphere is peaceful and contemplative – just you and hundreds of barrels of Pinot Noir lining the walls.”

Guests then enjoy an entertaining cinema experience with the showing of Bud to Bottle – a short film of the winegrowing process – in the Lodge’s private wine education theatre.

“It’s a visually spectacular piece that perfectly captures the annual cycle of winemaking,” says Christopher. “Our idea is to satisfy those who are curious about the essence of winemaking.”

The film is followed by a tasting session of Gibbston Valley’s premium and Single Vineyard releases, led by an experienced winemaker.

The experience ends as it should, with food, wine and conversation at the at the Lodge Restaurant. Executive Chef Anthony Gradiska and his team will delight in preparing a convivial lunch featuring seasonal produce from the winery’s organic gardens, expertly paired with wines.

The Lodge Concierge will be available to advise guests on additional customised experiences, such as a guided helicopter trip to understand the ‘ins and outs’ of making Gibbston Valley wines from above. The helicopter experience will stop at all the Winery’s major vineyards, as well as additional spots to catch some spectacular views.

For further information and bookings go to gibbstonvalleylodgeandspa.com

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Gibbston valley opens new luxury spa with wine on the menu

Gibbston valley opens new luxury spa with wine on the menu

When Gibbston Valley Winery opens its new 5-star luxury lodge this month, a standout feature will be the luxurious private spa and – fittingly – its range of vinotherapy treatments.

Part of the Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa development near Queenstown, the Spa will offer guests a luxurious retreat for health, beauty and well-being and the unique opportunity to connect with the land and winery on a whole new level.

Nestled within the breathtakingly beautiful grounds of Gibbston Valley Winery’s 1000-acre estate and a few minutes’ walk from the new accommodation villas, the standalone spa building features three private treatment rooms.

Experienced therapists will offer a range of treatments to suit any personal indulgence, including vinotherapy face and body therapies using different parts of the grape and vine to benefit the skin.

Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt is thrilled with the innovative treatments on offer at the new spa.

“Unmitigated wine immersion is central to what we want guests to encounter here at the Lodge & Spa – a weekend full of unique, indulgent, and engaging experiences that can’t be found anywhere else in Queenstown,” says Greg.

“So quite naturally incorporating wine elements into our spa treatments enables us to offer guests a chance to embrace the winery and spa experience in a very special way.”

Vinotherapy treatments include the TheraVine™ Luxurious Pinotage & Lime Salt Scrub, a full-body exfoliation that harnesses grape extracts, mineral salts and a citrus infusion to reveal silky, rejuvenated skin, and the Aromavine™ Uplifting Massage where a 100% natural blend of grapeseed, clary sage, rose and jasmine oils will leave guests feeling equal parts relaxed and invigorated.

Other signature treatments include a pampering massage using locally sourced Greenstone and Quartz, a Mud-Detox wrap where warm clay is applied in a full body envelope to draw out toxins, or a variety of tailored packages for individual or couple indulgences.

For total relaxation, guests can immerse themselves in one of two open-air hot tubs nestled into the hillside behind the Spa, offering an outdoor bathing experience with uninterrupted views of Central Otago’s ruggedly charismatic landscape.

Those who like to ‘sweat it out’ will enjoy the intimate yet well-appointed gym inside the spa building. Equipped with state-of cardio machines, free weights and a private all-hours access the gym provides a secure and tranquil place for guests to workout.

At the helm of the Spa is the newly appointed Spa Manager Frances Shirley. With over twelve years’ experience in massage therapy and spa management, UK-born Shirley is a trained beauty and massage therapist. She brings with her a breadth of skill and knowledge gained from previous roles at high-end luxury spas, including locally Matakauri Lodge and Hilton Queenstown.

“The aim of the new Spa is to create a calm, trusting and kind atmosphere for our guests that extends from the treatment rooms all the way back to their villa. Our therapists are intuitive, enthusiastic and highly trained offering tailored treatments and a wealth of knowledge to ensure every guest has a personalised and relaxing experience,” says Frances.

Catering to guests of Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa, the Spa will be opening alongside the landmark Lodge and twenty-four private villas this month. For Spa information and bookings please visit: https://www.gibbstonvalleylodgeandspa.com/spa/

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