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Pg 26-28 - IT Online

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IT

Pulling dollars

from cyberspace

In an increasingly cyber-savvy world, consumers are turning to the Internet for everything it seems, including travel. As airlines and travel companies offer their best deals online, customers are looking to reap the benefits of cheaper getaways and work trips. They’re side-stepping the traditional travel agents and going online – bookings for hotels through websites are growing at a staggering rate of 42% per annum. Self confessed nethead, Roderick Eime reports on this growing trend.

I

t wasn’t that long ago when the Internet was derided as an esoteric plaything for geeks, nerds and the socially incompetent. I remember extolling the virtues of email to my friends and clients in the early ‘90s and triumphantly displaying my first web page in 1994. Some immediately saw the possibilities while many others, even the majority I must say, had to be dragged screaming to the computer. Now, over a decade later, it’s hard to imagine life without a tollpass for the Information Superhighway. We all remember the first “clunky” web pages full of flashing text and naff rotating graphics. Now the art and science of web design is as much about the back-end architecture as it is the slick graphics. Web

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implementation, search engine optimisation and data streaming is now driven by near incomprehensible protocols like PHP Hypertext Preprocessors, Perl CGI Common Gateway Interface and JavaScript. Today we can chat in real time across the world with Skype, sell anything on eBay and indulge in any variety of previously unattainable subversion. But, the Information Superhighway, like any public thoroughfare is fraught with peril. There are the cyber equivalents of highwaymen, lane-swervers, tailgaters and even car-jackers. Just as our use of the tools and advantages of the new technology have increased so too has our need for increased security and awareness. Once all we had to worry about were silly viruses that pulled

faces at us on the screen, now there are Trojan horses, key loggers, spyware, malware, scams and the ever present fear of identity theft. And the speed limit is on an exponential curve; our once plodding 14.4 kbs modems have been replaced by lightspeed ADSL hubs pumping data at 24,000 kbs. Without too much debate, the most staggering recent development has been the Google phenomenon. Beginning with two nerds in a garage in 1996, Google now indexes well over 10 Billion web pages, is valued at US$80 Billion and employs 5,000 people worldwide. Google’s plans for ‘net domination are truly mind-boggling. For one thing, they plan to index all the words from every book ever written. Gasp!


Pg 26-28 - IT Online

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IT

Goggle’s advertising through search keywords is the cornerstone of their financial success, and Internet marketers are only now coming to grips with this convoluted formula. The quest for top Google rankings is now paramount. HM canvassed the major players in the online booking scene for their take on the changing world.

Hitwise – ‘Travel’ amongst the most popular topics on the web Hitwise is the leading independent online competitive intelligence service. Hitwise provides 1200 global clients with daily insights on how their customers interact with a broad range of competitive websites, and how their competitors use different tactics to attract online customers. We asked James Borg, Marketing Director, Hitwise Asia Pacific, how he saw the trend for Internet traffic heading to travel (and hotel) web sites. “Travel sites, including destination, airline and hotel sites, account for a huge slice of the total Internet traffic pie. Hitwise predominantly measures traffic to individual sites within a given industry sector and in doing so we turn up some very interesting data,” he said. “Hitwise UK did some analysis recently and noticed two particularly interesting things: the most searched for hotel brands also have the most visited websites; and searches for locations make up a larger share of search terms sending visits to hotel websites than do brand searches. “Travelodge UK, InterContinental Hotels, and Premier Travel Inn own the brands that were most searched for. These chains also have the most visited websites in the UK. This pattern continues down the rankings with the exception of easyJethotels.com which relies on its sister company easyJet for visits rather than its own brand strength. “So, the most searched for brands also have the most visited websites -- but this need not be so! There is tremendous opportunity for smaller hotels to snap up market share by capitalising on the location opportunity,”

Euromonitor International Total online accommodation sales in Australia during calendar year 2005 were estimated by Euromonitor International to be A$788.5 million from a total accommodation market valued at A$9.233 billion. The compound annual average

growth rate for online accommodation has been approximately 42% per annum.

Intercontinental Hotels Group – Keeping brand integrity in online environment The Internet continues to be an important booking channel for InterContinental Hotels Group across all segments, as customers continue to research and book travel online. InterContinental Hotels Group promotes its branded booking sites in all marketing activity. The Group promises to offer the best available rates for its hotels on the web, through its Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee. This stipulates that if a customer finds a genuinely more competitive, all-inclusive rate elsewhere on the Internet, we’ll beat that rate by 10%. IHG was the first hotel Company to introduce a global Internet Distribution Standard, outlining how it wished to do business with third party online travel Companies. One of the benefits of this Standard was to ensure the Group could maintain its Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee. Between 2003 and 2005, the Group’s hotels in the Asia Pacific region saw a 120% increase in online bookings. In 2003, half of the Group’s online bookings were via its own sites while the remaining 50% were via third party travel portals. By 2005, this was 65% and 35% respectively. “Since the introduction of our Internet Distribution Standard and Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee, we have seen a marked increase in popularity of our brand websites. We have also established stronger relationships with online travel companies, who complement what we are doing with our own sites,” said InterContinental Hotels Group regional director of sales and marketing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Karin Nielsen. “This ensures our online rates are completely transparent, whether they’re found on our sites or a third party’s. This is the key benefit of a system that has precipitated a fundamental shift in the way the hotel industry sells online,” she said.

Wotif.com – Trading strong on back of growing leisure dollar Launched in March 2000, Wotif.com is the leading online accommodation booking service in Australasia, offering more than 7,900 properties in 38 countries. The site currently attracts approximately

two million user sessions each month and converts this traffic into approximately 110,000 booking each month. In both 2004 and 2005 Wotif.com was ranked as the number one ‘Travel – Destinations and Accommodation' website across Australia, by Hitwise. Wotif.com’s increasing popularity as a means to book accommodation is attributed to a number of key industry drivers: generally favourable macro-economic conditions; increased broadband penetration; consumer trust in e-commerce; growth in independent travel; and supplier adoption of the website. Wotif.com announced a stong result for FY2006 driven by substantial growth in accommodation sold across all regions available on Wotif.com's website. Room nights sold increased 40%, reaching 2.74 million room nights (compared with 1.96 million in FY2005), with room nights sold in Australia up 37%, and New Zealand up 42%. Despite strong growth, online sales still represent only a small percentage of total sales in the Australian accommodation industry. Euromonitor International estimates online sales represent 8.5% of total accommodation turnover in 2005. Wotif.com believes that the online channel will continue strong growth by attracting customers away from traditional sales channels. It is considered that the convenience, product range, transparency and value provided by the online channel are driving these changes. This belief is supported by industry estimates. Euromonitor International forecasts online sales to reach at least 11% by 2010.

Zuji.com – Shorter Lead Times, Short Stays Favour On-Line Booking. Most hotel stays (overall 36%) are booked in the week prior to check-in, especially in Hong Kong (44%), Singapore (48%) and Korea (44%). Australians (43%) and New Zealanders (39%) book hotels online with longest lead times in Asia of more than a month in advance of pre check-in, although more than a quarter of hotels (26%) booked online on ZUJI sites across Asia Pacific are booked more than one month in advance of check-in. In the past two years, comparing hotel booking patterns in Q2 2004, habits have remained steady in Australia where 46% of hotels were booked with more than a month lead time pre-check-in (now 43%).

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Online facts 69% of all travel sites visited by Australians are local Travel is roughly equal to sport in Internet popularity (2.5%) Virgin Blue claims 90% of flights booked on-line Visitors spend 7 minutes on average per site Monday is the most popular day for travel sites Source: www.hitwise.com.au

Booking lead time reduced in countries like Singapore; Q2 2004, 28% of bookings made during the week before check-in – now 48%. Similarly, in Hong Kong; Q2 2004, was 19%, – now 44%. One, two and three night stays dominate booking trends, with 78% comprising 1/2/3 night stays. While predominantly short stay, length of stay has increased since Q2 2004 when 43% of all hotel bookings on ZUJI sites were for one night stays (now only 29%). “Shopping for accommodation online is big business in Australia. We have some excellent hotel relationships that are of paramount importance to us. Having just added 12,000 new hotels to our portfolio of properties, ZUJI now offers customers a choice of over 72,000 hotels worldwide at fantastic rates. Whether the traveller is looking to make a booking a year in advance or a same day, last minute checkin, ZUJI can accommodate. We also offer our customers access to consumer reviews, maps, photos and plenty of information about the property’s amenities and surrounding attractions. These added extras have proved to be very important to Australian consumers when it comes to

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the crunch of making a decision to book a hotel,” said Peter Smith, General Manager, ZUJI Australia.

Lastminute.com.au – Keeping brands a secret assures lowest rate Within only five months since its soft launch, the popularity of Secret Hotels has grown exponentially with over 25,000 room nights booked into “secret hotels”. Web savvy hotels nationwide integrated lastminute.com's Secret Hotels as an extension of their online distribution network. “Secret Hotels is the proactive way to successfully move inventory without fear of brand erosion due to lack of rate parity. The hotel name is not advertised to the public. Results have been incredible. Some hotels sell in excess of 1,000 otherwise wasted room nights in a single month,” said Brad Gurrie, General Manager Hotels at lastminute.com.au Aside from numerous benefits to hoteliers, Secret Hotels is actively stimulating new demand within the FIT leisure travel market, with close to 80% of customers booking for various leisure purposes.” Secret Hotels foster opportunistic purchases where customers want to take advantage of the low rates.

Instead of catching a taxi home, they’re often paying the same price to check into one of the mystery rooms that start at $79 per night,” Gurrie said. Accor – Going multi-lingual to gather Asian bounty The launch of Accor’s accorhotels web sites, which offer booking options in seven Asian languages as well as English, follows a significant increase of 40% in on-line booking in 2006 (year to date) over the same period in 2005. Accor’s Australian website (www.accorhotels.com.au) saw record growth in 2006 and the new-look website, launched in early September 2006, aims to provide Accor guests with increased flexibility to book a selection of room styles, rates and ‘added extra’ options such as breakfast, massages and late check-out. Visitors to the website are greeted with a new search function amalgamating the Asian hotel website with the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific websites, enabling them to book an Accor hotel in any of 16 countries across the Asia Pacific region. The website is available in: simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Korean and Japanese.


Pg 32-39 - NZ Lodges

31/8/06

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IN FOCUS

A Lodge affair Envied for their premium cachet and set amid dramatic, blockbuster locations, New Zealand’s ultra exclusive ‘Super Lodges’ continue to earn the praise of luxury travellers and hard-nosed critics alike. In this special report, HM highlights some of the stand-out performers under ‘the brand of the long white cloud’. BY RODERICK EIME

BLANKET BAY Glenorchy Close your eyes and recall the jaw-dropping mountain scapes chosen by acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson for his "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy and you're transported to Lake Wakatipu near NZ's adventure capital, Queenstown. At the northern end of the lake is picture-perfect Blanket Bay. A two-time HM Award winner, Blanket Bay is managed by NZ tourism identity, Philip Jenkins, and is a far cry from the rough shearer settlement that spawned the name. Guest accommodation is in five intimate Lodge Rooms, three generous Lodge Suites in the main lodge, and four superb Chalet Suites. Furnishings retain a rustic elegance showcasing predominantly natural materials. Rates for Lodge Rooms are NZ$1290 per room, double occupancy with use of sports equipment and facilities as well as breakfast, pre-dinner cocktails and dinner. The self-service bar in the game room is open at any time at no extra charge. Blanket Bay is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Visit www.slh.com/blanketbay/ Serenity and solitude. Blanket Bay.

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Pg 32-39 - NZ Lodges

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IN FOCUS

Grasmere Lodge has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood blockbuster

GRASMERE LODGE Arthur’s Pass Playing heavily on their dramatic location near Arthur's Pass, Grasmere Lodge will always command the attention of those looking for quiet and comfort in nostalgic colonial style. Set amidst the spectacular Southern Alps, you'll be wondering which Hollywood epic you're in. The original homestead harks back to 1858 and, with gradual and tasteful modernisation, now presents the perfect complement to the natural grandeur of its surroundings. Every guest room at Grasmere Lodge has one king or two single beds, two armchairs and a coffee table, CD player, mini bar, a work desk with a modem plug and chair. Each private patio or deck has two outdoor chairs for enjoying the views and fresh mountain air. A Lake View Deluxe Room is $NZ622 per person and includes pre-dinner cocktail hour, a five-course table d'hôte gourmet dinner, and full cooked or continental breakfast. Grasmere Lodge is a member of Select Hotels & Resorts, and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Visit www.grasmere.co.nz

Heritage and grandeur at Greenhill The Lodge

GREENHILL THE LODGE Hawkes Bay Once a stately family home, and part of the sprawling Maraekakaho Station, current owners Neil Barber and Craig Hay converted this manor into a luxury lodge in 2001. Located in the world famous wine making region of Hawkes Bay on NZ's North Island, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother once chose the property for a two day rest stop during her Royal Tour of 1958. Greenhill The Lodge is a perfect location to showcase the renowned natural produce of New Zealand. Guests can choose either of two King suites with a private sitting room, open fires and twin bathrooms or one of the three King rooms each with private ensuite. Rates are NZ$620 per person per night basis, double/twin or single occupancy and includes pre dinner drinks and canapés, a choice of continental, cooked or combined breakfast and complimentary Hastings Golf Club green fees. Greenhill The Lodge is a member of Select Hotels & Resorts. Visit www.selecthotels.com/greenhill

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Pg 32-39 - NZ Lodges

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IN FOCUS Lodge Manager, Willem Pentermann welcomes you to Huka

HUKA LODGE Taupo Widely considered the top lodge in New Zealand despite fierce competition, Huka continues to garner awards from the most prestigious judges including Travel+Leisure, CondĂŠ Nast, Andrew Harper and the Robb Report. Ideally positioned in a private hideaway adjacent the sublime Waikato River and surrounded by virtual botanic gardens, Huka Lodge was originally a private fishing lodge in the 1920s, but its reputation for fine food and natural serenity spread far and wide. Executive chef, John Allred, enjoys a substantial reputation thanks to his international schooling courtesy of lodge owner and multimillionaire banker and investor Alex van Heeren. Instead of grandeur and opulence, the lodge is compact and snug and gives the impression of embracing its guests. Apart from the famed Owners Cottage, Huka Lodge provides 20 guest suites, all decorated in keeping with the main lodge. Tariffs begin at NZ$695 per person, and includes pre-dinner drinks, five course dinner, full breakfast and full use of lodge facilities. Huka Lodge is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Select Hotels & Resorts, and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Visit www.hukalodge.com A golfer's nirvana; Kauri Cliffs

KAURI CLIFFS Matauri Bay, Bay of Islands Wallowing in splendid isolation on the rim of the magnificent Bay of Islands, Kauri Cliffs has been described as a golfer's nirvana. But even if you forget your Calloways, you can still find plenty to enjoy at this premier lodge in Northland's Matauri Bay. Something of a hidden gem the lodge is majestically set on 6,000 acres adjacent native forest and is gift-wrapped with a Michael Harman-designed par 72 championship golf course. The eleven outlying cottages are comprised of 22 units and suites and also include separate rooms for minders and/or children. Dining is overseen by chefs Neil Brazier and Dale Gartland and highlights the best of New Zealand beef and lamb. Rates begin at NZ$790 per person, per night and includes pre-dinner drinks with hors d'oeuvres, a la carte dinner, full breakfast, complimentary mini-bar including domestic beers (excludes liquor and wine) and use of all lodge facilities excluding golf. Visit www.kauricliffs.com

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Pg 32-39 - NZ Lodges

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IN FOCUS

Seclusion and privacy doesn't spoil the view Kawaha Point Lodge

LAKE TAUPO LODGE Taupo Even with the bounty of premium lodges throughout New Zealand it is difficult to imagine a more perfect setting for an exclusive retreat; right on the shores of beautiful Lake Taupo on the Central Plateau of New Zealand. In 1996, Gary and Shirley Akers turned their already substantial home into a Frank Lloyd Wrightinspired architectural masterpiece and a base for nature lovers to enjoy both the serenity and excitement of local attractions including the many geothermal wonders and great trout fishing. Situated amid lush native bush and immaculately landscaped gardens the lodge has been appreciated by such luminaries as Peter Jackson and Burt Reynolds, both of whom extolled the twin virtues of impeccable hospitality and quality relaxation. Rates for Deluxe Garden suites are NZ$595 per person double occupancy per night and include a four course dinner, full chef breakfast and Taupo Airport transfers if required. Lake Taupo Lodge is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Visit www.slh.com/taupo/

Inspirational architectural design forms the basis for Lake Taupo Lodge

KAWAHA POINT LODGE Rotorua Despite it's secluded, private location, Kawaha Point Lodge commands panoramic views of Lake Rotorua that extend from the township to glorious Mount Tarawera. Hosts Tony and Margaret Seavill have transformed this grand family home into the perfect convivial retreat, offering guests the choice of eight tastefully appointed suites. Each room is tastefully appointed and boasts king size beds, air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. One of the key features of Kawaha Point Lodge is the superb dining experience made possible by Michelintrained master chef, Silvio Sakrzewski. Their recent triumph at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards [Boutique Accommodation category] reinforces their claim to fame and sits perfectly with their Qualmark 5 Star rating. Outside in the superb English-style rose gardens, guests can indulge themselves with a swim, sauna or even a game of petanque or croquet. A Lake Front Suite inclusive of dinner, bed and breakfast is NZ$606 per person (twin share). Kawaha Point Lodge is a member of Select Hotels & Resorts. Visit www.selecthotels.com/kawaha

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IN FOCUS MARUIA RIVER LODGE Murchison Glorious streams, rivers and beech forest typify this exclusive lodge, making it a perfect choice for nature lovers, walkers and those in search of authentic New Zealand cuisine thanks to master chef, Ruth Thompson. Your hosts, Steve and Penny Bicknell, bought Maruia River Lodge in 2001. Steve's professional background is in advertising photography and his superb creations adorn the walls of the sitting room. Accommodation is in seven luxurious detached cottages each with a super king bed, quality teak furniture, marble bathrooms with underfloor heating and covered verandah. Relax with a glass of wine as you overlook the banks of the serene Maruia River. Rates for a one bedroom Deluxe Cottage is NZ$520 per person per night and includes pre-dinner aperitifs, a five course dinner, a full English breakfast and use of all facilities. Maruia River Lodge is a member of Select Hotels & Resorts. Visit www.selecthotels.com/maruiariver

Relax in the Sitting Room at Maruia River Lodge and admire the photography

Organic produce and natural preservation feature at Maungatautari

MAUNGATAUTARI LODGE Lake Karapiro, Cambridge Unlike many of its contemporaries throughout the country, Maungatautari Lodge is a relatively recent construction, built by its owner-hosts, Peter and Christine Scoular, to their own personal design. This same personal touch extends to their exemplary hospitality, which makes guests feel like old friends visiting for an extended dinner. Set on 30ha of park-like gardens, there are stud horses and sheep just beyond the colourful expanses of lavender, organic vegetable gardens and citrus orchards. The property is also part of an ambitious wildlife conservation program that aims to preserve and protect the many threatened NZ species such as kiwi, kereru, tui, korimako (bellbirds), kokako, kaka, kakariki, hihi (stitchbirds), toutouwai (robins), skinks, geckos, giant weta and tuatara. The lodge itself is roomy, bright and airy assisted by broad picture windows with views all the way to Lake Karapiro. Christine does most of the cooking and even occasionally invites guests into the kitchen to share in the culinary experience. A double occupancy suite is NZ$970 and includes dinner, bed and breakfast. Maungatautari Lodge is a member of Select Hotels & Resorts. Visit www.selecthotels.com/maungatautari

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Main Suite, On The Point's premier suite

PEPPERS ON THE POINT Rotorua Location, Location, Location. Thrusting imperiously out on the tip of Kawaha Point and into the grand expanse of Lake Rotorua, Peppers on the Point commands unparalleled views all the way to Mokoia Island. Built during the age of Jazz, this classic 1930s manor has just seven spacious suites and the ultra-exclusive Lake Villa. A short ten minute drive from downtown, Peppers on the Point offers a convenient mix of verdant seclusion and handy proximity to local attractions. Dining, overseen by executive chef, Reg Hawthorne, is available in small, intimate groups, in your own suite or private, romantic tables for two in the ornate dining and reception rooms downstairs. Suites are NZ$595 per person per night double occupancy and includes Accommodation, predinner drinks with canapés, four course table d'hote dinner and full breakfast. Visit www.peppers.com.au/On-The-Point

Solitaire Lodge overlooks gorgeous Lake Tarawera

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SOLITAIRE LODGE Rotorua New Zealand’s plethora of dramatic, eye-popping scenery gives lodge builders a great deal of scope and Solitaire Lodge is another ultrapremium property that takes full advantage of the stunning natural environment. Separating the unique selling features of these lodges in such a rarefied atmosphere can be a challenge, but when one of America’s top travel publishers, Fodor’s, bestows their ultimate food award, you know you onto something special. Set splendidly on the shores of gorgeous Lake Tarawera, just 25 minutes by road from Rotorua, Solitaire Lodge has all the elements of a very special retreat. The nine luxury suites, all with distinct character, are light, airy and afford magnificent views. Rates begin at NZ$1280 per room, per night, double occupancy and includes evening cocktail hour, four course gourmet dinner, full breakfast, use of lodge fishing dinghies and kayaks plus all trout fishing gear and tackle. Solitaire Lodge is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Visit www.slh.com/solitaire/


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IN FOCUS Treetops Luxury Lodge is John Sax's vision of natural harmony

TREETOPS LUXURY LODGE AND ESTATE Rotorua Described by the esteemed Robb Report as “an antidote to the industrial age”, Treetops Luxury Lodge and Estate is another property extracting full benefit from the abundant natural possibilities on New Zealand’s Central Plateau. The structure itself plays strongly on a symbiosis with nature and is based on simplicity and harmony with its bush and forest surroundings. The two villas and four suites are integrated delicately with the spring-fed creek that adorns the grounds. Treetops is a product of years of toil and the vision of New Zealand businessman John Sax. He sums up thus; “It is my hope when you leave this place in the hills and return to the valleys below, that life's journey may be a little brighter from your experience.” Rates begin at NZ $815 on a per person per night basis, double/twin or single occupancy and includes breakfast, pre dinner cocktails, dinner and selected lodge activities. Treetops Lodge is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Visit www.slh.com/treetops/

Relax with a good book in the living room at Wharekauhau

WHAREKAUHAU Featherston Dig deep into your bag of superlatives and ladle generously. This 5000 acre rural retreat is actually part of a working sheep station just south of Wellington. But the smell of lanoline and organic compost clearly didn't dissuade the famously impartial Andrew Harper when he awarded Wharekauhau his Grand Award in 1998. So enamoured was he with this Edwardian-style country mansion that he awarded it again in 2004. Founded in 1840, the Wharekauhau property takes 'farmstay' to an entirely new level of indulgence with many guests arriving by helicopter after a 10minute hop from the capital. As distinct from many other properties featured, the Wharekauhau Country Estate makes no bones about its opulent, gentrified personality. Guests are welcomed into the Grand Hall, characterised by unusual mullioned windows that recall ancient Norman or Saxon architecture. Rates start at NZ$865.00 per person, double occupancy and include full breakfast, pre-dinner drinks, canapés and a gourmet dinner Wharekauhau is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Visit www.slh.com/wharekauhau/

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A Lodge Affair - Pulling Dollars from Cyberspace