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Jacqui Spice, whose personal concierge company Touch of Spice pioneered luxury holiday home rentals 14 years ago, says there’s been significant growth, particularly at the top end of the luxury market, in people staying in fully-serviced local houses owned by out-of-towners.
“We’ve got quite a few properties over $5000 a night in Queenstown.”
Spearheading these is mega-jeweller Sir Michael Hill’s Lodge at The Hills, near Arrowtown, which charges a mind-boggling $38,000 a night for a minimum five-night stay – New Zealand’s dearest tariff.
Included are the likes of a butler and private chef.
“It’s got people returning for the fifth time this Christmas and New Year,” Spice says.
“We’ve had a lot of groups through that have stayed on for quite a long time.”
People might blink at that tariff, but Spice says: “At the end of the day, if you break it down to per person per night for 12 people, believe it or not it is incredible value.
“And you’re talking about people who might have super-yachts being charged more to be in a port than what we’re charging them per night here.”
Spice says the big trend’s for larger groups who quite often come as multi-generational families – their holidays doubling as precious family time.
“We’ve got properties that can take 15 to 20 to 26 people in one go – that’s how many of them are coming.”
Amy Neilson, Touch of Spice’s senior marketing and product manager, adds: “It’s about creating memories with your family and having the space to do that in privacy, rather than in a hotel stay where you’re quite limited.
“Luxury travellers are wanting an authentic experience.
“So they’re wanting to stay in a gorgeous home, not a hotel, not a lodge, not a standard commercial experience.”
Spice notes that luxury lodges like Glenorchy’s Blanket Bay and Queenstown’s Matakauri have recognised this trend by adding a dedicated ‘owner's residence’ or ‘owner’s cottage’ that can be hired out exclusively to large groups or families.
She also points out that Airbnb has recently created its own luxury division, Airbnb Luxe.
Meanwhile, she says Touch of Spice is continuing to add super-luxury properties to its Residence Collection of 50-plus VIP properties, most of which are in Queenstown or Wanaka.
New additions include a Bob’s Cove home let out for $10,000 a night, Stelvio, in Queenstown Hill’s gated subdivision, The Peak, which charges $23,000 a night, and Villa Two in the brand-new The Elms at Lake Hayes, which is priced from $6000 a night.
Spice: “We just had guests who liked The Elms so much they stayed on for another three days.”