Gifting a trip to New Zealand will provide incentive winners with a truly transformative travel experience. If there are sailors in your group, this year is a great time to travel there, as the finals of the America's Cup will be contested off the shores of Auckland from Dec. 17-20.
No matter when winners will take the trip, there is plenty of hospitality news from around the country to whet their appetites.
New in the country's biggest city is the SO/ Auckland, whose rooftop bar and terrace with private booths look out over Auckland Harbour. The 130-room hotel also features a French-inspired restaurant called Harbour Society, and a wellness floor with a heated indoor pool, SO/ Spa and a fitness center.
The country's first Park Hyatt, one of the hospitality company's most luxurious brands, was expected to open this March with 195 rooms, including 23 suites. There are four dining options, an 80-foot indoor/outdoor infinity pool, a plunge pool, a spa and about 3,300 square feet of meeting space.
Luxury accommodations downtown will grow again when a 300-room Ritz-Carlton property debuts near Auckland's Sky Tower, SkyCity Casino and the entertainment district. Two fine-dining restaurants will be on site, along with two ballrooms that will provide space for showcase events. An opening date has not been set yet.
Opening in 2022 will be the InterContinental Auckland, part of the US$600 million Commercial Bay mixed-use development. According to the specs, 90 percent of the 244 rooms will feature water views. The waterfront complex will offer a range of food-and-beverage and retail options.
Coming to this city on the South Island is Australasia's first property in Hilton's Tapestry Collection, The Modern. Opening in late 2021, the 70-room hotel will feature contemporary art by Christchurch and New Zealand artists.
The Lodge Life
Developer Robertson Lodges has expanded and upgraded two of its properties, the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and Matakauri Lodge. Three new rentable private residences have been added to Kauri Cliffs, which is on 6,000 acres of farmland in the Bay of Islands with views of the Pacific Ocean, almost to the northern tip of the country. Filled with luxurious touches inside, each villa features its own saltwater swimming pool off the back veranda. The lodge now hosts up to 76 guests in its mix of suites, owner's cottage and residences.
In Queenstown on the South Island, the jumping-off point for a host of year-round adventures, the 16-room Matakauri Lodge was revamped about a year ago by New Zealand interior designer Virginia Fraser; The new style ties in the look with the property's setting on Lake Wakatipu and its surrounding mountains. In the process, the lodge's Lower Lounge has been repurposed into a dining area with views of the Remarkables mountain range, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak.
In Blenheim, on the north end of the South Island and across Cook Strait from the country's capital, Wellington, is the 10-room Marlborough Lodge, a former Sisters of Mercy convent. The property recently finished up a four-stage refurbishment that included turning a 1913 chapel on the grounds into a small spa and adding a "wine shack." The region counts 110 wineries among its attractions.
Business Events New Zealand is ready to help when it's time to map out the perfect incentive trip. They can help arrange shorter and longer programs from Auckland to Rotorua and down to Queenstown, taking part in sailing or Harley Davidson motorcycle tours up north; experiencing the Hobbiton movie set in Rotorua; and visiting wine country and dining by Lake Wakatipu down south.
A recent itinerary wove sustainability into a day in Queenstown, touching on the Maori ideal of "tiaki," meaning "to care for people and place." Participants went out for a driving tour with Nomad Safaris using Tesla zero-emission vehicles, took part in a conservation project to protect native plants and animals, and lunched at Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat by the river-fed headwaters of Lake Wakatipu.
In the Air
Currently, nonstop flights to Auckland on the north end of New Zealand land from L.A., via such carriers as American Airlines, Air New Zealand and United Airlines; San Francisco (New Zealand and United); and Chicago (New Zealand, United and Delta Air Lines). Air New Zealand is scheduled to launch a direct Auckland–New York flight in November, and this coming October, American Airlines will begin three weekly flights between Los Angeles and Christchurch.
Looking to make the flights more comfortable for the masses, Air New Zealand recently unveiled the Economy Skynest, a lie-flat nap pod for those traveling in the general-class (economy) seats. The carrier filed patent and trademark applications for the six-pod modules in early 2020. While all the details have yet to be worked out, the plan would be for a passenger to be able to make reservations for a bed in addition to their seats.