The recently built luxury lodge woos golfers, hedonists and adventurers alike with the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in New Zealand, world-class dining, and panoramic views of Lake Taupo and beyond from its hilltop villas.
In the quiet village of Kinloch, on the North Island with its marina, mom-and-pop restaurants and summer homes, The Kinloch Club, comes as something of a modernist surprise. Chocolate villas and a mammoth white lodge are studded in the rolling hills above the on-site 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.
It is the latest luxury lodge from multi-millionaire businessman John Sax (his nearby Treetops Lodge and Estate has been much lauded). A unique New Zealand phenomenon – luxury lodges are a destination unto themselves offering top tier accommodation in some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Here, the 254 hectare property with one-bedroom suites and luxurious two or three-bedroom villas enjoys commanding views of the links, Lake Taupo and the volcanic region beyond.
Interior designer Virginia Fisher (known for some of New Zealand’s choicest lodges) and famed local architect Andrew Patterson took a simple brief – pay homage to the original Kinloch, a medieval Scottish castle on the Isle of Rum – to spectacular heights.
The schist stone clad lodge is the central hub of activity, welcoming guests and playing host in its many plush spaces from the den, bar, and great room, to the dining room and spa. Make no mistake this is impressive 21st century architecture with grand medieval flair. Translation: chainmail chandeliers, mother of pearl inlay dresser, courtyard with outdoor fireplace, floor to ceiling windows which frame verdant views, gold velvet seating, and goat-fur covered bar stools. Woven into this decor are several pieces of Maori art from the owner’s collection including the stunning hologram-like portrait of a young girl adorned with tā moko (tattoo) dubbed the Maori Mona Lisa.
The Kinloch Club’s expansive villas meanwhile feature kitchens, ensuite bathrooms, fireplaces, oak floors and New Zealand-made rugs.
Architect and designer compliment and allude to each other in many clever ways. While the exterior of the lodge is light, inside it is decorated in dark jewel tones and the converse is true of the villas. Playing on the visual distance cues of its natural surroundings, Patterson and Fisher distinguish the lodge from the villas with colour, form and décor. Foreground views of golden hued flora are echoed in the Lodge’s many adjoining stately rooms. Background views of the lake are reflected in villa interiors restrained tones of grey-blue, ochre and sand.
While golfers have long flocked to the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course on property, the accommodation and dining has brought … and given them a reason to linger. The day spa and helicopter landing pad are ace. During my visit, the infinity pool, gym, tennis courts and kitchen garden were set to be completed.
Daily five course degustation dinners with pre-dinner drinks are a chance to mingle with other guests. The night I dine, the estate-to-plate philosophy comes to epicurean life in dishes like pan fried Canterbury quail breast, leg confit, puy lentils, blackberry gel, star anise jus and loin of merino lamb minted pea puree, white baby carrots, kumara fondant, rosemary jus.
When I stayed guests included a vacationing German couple, a group from Australia and an American businessman. Curious golfers and road trippers, unfamiliar with the new property also popped in for a tour.
What CSL Liked Best
This is a wow-factor property sure to take its place among the country’s top lodges. Sister property Treetops Lodge and Estate has long drawn adventure sportsmen.
CSL Hotel Gems
This show-stopper property has many unique features, we’ve chosen three that may have you coming back again and again.
The 18-hole lakeside Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course with a par 72 rating, is regularly voted among the top fairways in the country.
Drawing on the owner’s 2 000 hectare farm to source ingredients, dining in the baronial lodge is a sublime experience (in-suite dining is also available).
Seduced by all the luxury? Villas are set to become available for ownership.
261 Kinloch Rd, Acacia Bay, Kinloch
3377; +64 7-377 8482
This original article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.