$30 million retreat to host first guests

Aro Ha business partners Damian Chaparro (left) and Chris Madison flank Acting Prime Minister Bill English at the wellness retreat on Thursday. Photo supplied.
Aro Ha business partners Damian Chaparro (left) and Chris Madison flank Acting Prime Minister Bill English at the wellness retreat on Thursday. Photo supplied.
Unusual for the opening of a $30 million centre attended by Acting Prime Minister Bill English was a lack of footwear that was almost de rigueur for guests at the ceremony.

The Aro Ha wellness retreat, set on 8.4ha of land 4km south of the Glenorchy township, and which has been three years in the making, will tomorrow host its first retreat guests.

At the official opening on Thursday, Mr English, who is also the member of Parliament for Clutha Southland, trumpeted the foreign investment benefit.

He thanked the centre's American business partners Damian Chaparro and Chris Madison for choosing New Zealand and the location near Glenorchy, which is ''really the only place in New Zealand where creativity and business are seen as the same thing''.

The Overseas Investment Office and Lakes Environmental - now merged with the Queenstown Lakes District Council - granted consent for the centre. Mr English also thanked the business partners for bringing ''the different vision that you have when you come from larger, more complex societies''.

A five-day Enrich and Invigorate retreat starts at NZ$4550 per person and a seven-day Delve Deep retreat at NZ$6250.

The accommodation provides for up to 32 guests and the centre includes a spa with saunas, spa and massage rooms.

Mr Chaparro said there was a ''real need for the facility'' and the project was ''a bit of a dream''.

The official opening included a powhiri, karanga, whaikorero, group waiata and later, guests at the opening were invited to help plant a tree by using a trowel to apply dirt around the roots.

Mr Chaparro said the tree was planted to symbolise the intention to stay.