LOCAL Houston | The City Guide MAY 2015 - Page 73

Local May_Final.qxp_002houston 4/23/15 12:21 PM Page 73 FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER BLANKET BAY OTAHUNA LODGE Owned and operated by an American expat couple, this legendary lodge (once New Zealand’s largest private residence) is all about the details, from the glass of wine you’re offered at arrival and the complimentary communal pantry stocked with fresh-baked goodies and drinks, to the flexibility to enjoy dinner anywhere in the historic Victorian mansion. Add to that, breakfasts in the airy kitchen, guided tours of the gorgeous grounds Photography by Joann Dost Though nearby cities Queenstown and Wanaka are known for adrenaline-pumping activities like bungee jumping, heli-skiing, speed boating and mountain hiking, once you get to this scenic spot on Lake Wakatipu, you’ll just want to exhale. Featuring more of a rustic, classic lodge style than some of the other options, Blanket Bay puts you into instant relaxation mode with friendly, on-point service, in-room perks like steam showers or private terraces, and fun touches like a communal game room. Plus, you’ll never be hungry: Along with the delicious meals, you’ll find complimentary treats in the extensive mini-bar. www.blanketbay.com LODGE AT THE HILLS (home to flower and veggie gardens, ponds and even a small forest) and some of the best service in the country, and you’ll never want to leave. When guests venture out, they usually bike into the local village, horseback ride or hit the area vineyards, but save time for on-site experiences like a cooking class with the noted chef – or just lazing by the pool. www.otahuna.co.nz With Air New Zealand’s (www.airnewzealand.com) justannounced new service from Houston to Auckland (direct flights will start this December), it’s now easier than ever to make the trip. Quirky and comfortable, Air New Zealand currently features a Middle Earth-themed “epic safety video” featuring “LOTR” director Peter Jackson and some of the movies’ stars – but maybe that will change once the next three “Avatar” sequels start filming there soon. Photography by Stephen Goodenough for miles. Despite the remote setting, meals here are a fresh, gourmet affair. www.minaretstation.com/alpine-lodge GEORGE CROSSING OTAHUNA LODGE may 15 | L O C A L 73