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Elegant luxury at Lake Taupo

Burt Reynolds and Barbra Streisand are among the rich and famous to have spent some blissful time at Lake Taupo Lodge on the North Island of New Zealand. In fact, Burt loved it there so much, although he’d only booked for four days, he decided to stay for a whole fortnight. The lodge overlooks the beautiful Lake Taupo, which is actually a water-filled volcanic crater providing a wonderful vista of the stunning snow-capped mountains on the other side. Lake Taupo is a 2.5-hour drive south of Auckland, so it is a convenient place to get to, if you decide to add a few days of relaxation onto a business trip to the city. Everything about the lodge conveys unadulterated, yet unpretentious luxury. The lodge is set among lush, carefully manicured gardens, with a circular white quartz driveway that takes visitors to a covered entry, which opens into a welcoming foyer. Owners Gary and Shirley Akers greet guests with warmth and friendliness, immediately putting them at ease and allowing them to take in the lovely surroundings with a sense of belonging. Accredited as one of the prestigious small luxury hotels of the world, the lodge has seven guestrooms, each with its own state-of-the-art ensuite complete with heated flooring and towel rails and ultra-modern appointments. Top-quality toiletries, luxurious bathrobes and thick fluffy towels add to the sumptuous amenities. The main section of each suite incorporates a king-sized bed or two large single beds, a desk, lounge chairs and coffee table, a fridge, minibar and tea and coffee making facilities. Underfloor heating and a glowing gas fire make this a perfect wintertime retreat. Balconies provide the perfect venue for enjoying the crisp fresh air while partaking of pre-dinner drinks and appreciating views to the lake or over the garden. Indoors, a host of thoughtful treats are provided, including fresh-cut flowers, seasonal fruit, fresh milk and homemade cookies. Delicious breakfasts are served in the main lodge building on the huge communal table near a magnificent kitchen, where dedicated chefs turn out any number of breakfast options – from fresh and stewed fruit, choice of cereals and yoghurts, toast and pastries to incredibly diverse and imaginative cooked choices prepared on request. Evening meals begin with pre-dinner drinks in the relaxed billiard room, where a well-equipped bar provides a vast range of drink selections, making it the ideal venue to promote camaraderie between guests. Alternatively, in cold weather, the generously proportioned lounge has a crackling fire raging to beat off the winter chill as guests contemplate their four-course meal while the dinner chef weaves his/her magic in the kitchen. The finest of local and seasonal produce is utilised in the delectable meals served in the intimate dining room, featuring fresh herbs picked from the lodge’s organic garden. Views take in the twinkling lights of the settlements surrounding the lake and add to the sense of occasion. The Lake Taupo area offers a huge number of activities close by. The mountains are an easy one-hour drive away, the fascinating thermal activity area near Rotorua is even closer, and your hosts can arrange scenic flights, trout fishing, golf and adventure sports. Staying here is not cheap but well worth the money when you consider that breakfast, dinner and Taupo airport transfers are part of the tariff. Low season rates until September 30 range from $397 per person per night double occupancy in a deluxe suite to $470 per person per night double occupancy in an executive suite. www.laketaupolodge.co.nz What to do The beauty of a visit to this area is that there are so many activities available within a short distance. Some of the options include: skiing/snowboarding, sailing, parasailing, windsurfing, wake-boarding, waterskiing, kayaking, golf, horse trekking, exploring volcanic thermal parks, raft fishing, heli-fishing, exploring Maori cultural heritage, caving, bungy jumping, quad biking, jet boating, white water rafting and tandem skydiving. www.LakeTaupoNZ.com Getting there Air New Zealand offers direct flights Perth to Auckland with good connections to Taupo and return daily. Economy starts at around $1,574 per person including taxes and business class fares start from $2,879 per person including taxes.

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