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Royalty-hosting luxury lodge placed on the market for sale

Tags: Commercial

The land, buildings and business encompassing one of the North Island’s most exclusive luxury lodges – which once hosted the Queen Mother during a royal tour of New Zealand - have been placed on the market for sale.

Deemed one of the “jewels in the crown” of Hawke’s Bay’s tourism sector, heritage __ Greenhill Lodge is an executive venue some 15 minutes from Hastings - catering for a mix of wealthy New Zealanders and discerning international guests.

The plush turn-of-the-century venue has five luxurious guest rooms – with nightly individual rack rates for two people in the high season ranging from $1190 to $1560 per room. In addition, the lodge also operates a two-bedroom stand-alone cottage.

Built in 1898, the pioneer-style lodge – complete with an imposing three-storey tower - sits on some 29.5 hectares of freehold rolling countryside overlooking meticulously manicured gardens and rolling pastures.

Greenhill was once part of the enormous Maraekakaho Station before it was subdivided off by Scottish pioneering farmer Archibald McLean who had the homestead built. Following the conclusion of World War One, the home’s gardens were landscaped by renown colonial New Zealand gardener Alfred Buxton whose signature design was the property’s long winding tree-lined gravel driveway.

Buxton also planted several exotic tree species – many of which are now listed within Hastings District Council’s plan as substantial groves - including white fir, Spanish fir, medlar, almond, and holm oak, along with a Japanese pagoda.

Greenhill Lodge’s most famous guest was the Queen Mother, who stayed at the lodge for two nights in 1958. The Queen Mother’s residence at Greenhill was marked by the raising of the royal standard from the tower flag pole at the top of the three-storey viewing tower accessed by an ornate stairway in the middle of the homestead.

The Greenhill Lodge property and business are now being jointly being marketed for sale through an international tender by Bayleys Auckland and Bayleys Hawke’s Bay, with tenders closing at 4pm on March 27. Salespeople John Greenwood and Fiona MacKenzie said that with its regal pedigree, Greenhill Lodge literally was one of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of Hawke’s Bay’s accommodation sector.

Mr Greenwood said that while the heritage classification of Greenhill Lodge limited the amount of refurbishment or expansion work which could be undertaken on the main homestead with its matai flor and kowhai paneling, the expanse of surrounding land meant there was plenty of scope for adding new accommodation options.

“Any new commercial accommodation amenities could be new-builds replicating Greenhill’s existing pioneer-style design, by bringing in suitable relocatable cottages from that late 1800/early1900 era, or going totally modern,” he said.

“The addition of guest rooms would obviously allow Greenhill Lodge to host more and bigger corporate events or functions, and add to the guest capacity which could be housed for weddings. The template for this, Greenhill’s two-bedroom cottage, already operates as if it was part of the main building.

“For corporate functions, Greenhill Lodge is constrained to hosting up to 10 guests in its dining room, so the addition of a bigger function facility elsewhere on the property would also be a development option alongside potential accommodation expansion,” Mr Greenwood said.

He said a considerable amount had been invested into Greenhill Lodge by its current and immediate past owners over the past 17-years – with the installation of heat pumps, bathroom underfloor heating, and fire extinguishers, along with new décor and furnishings in most of the guest bedrooms and communal spaces.

Greenhill Lodge is marketed under the high-end Small Luxury Hotels of the World rand and is licensed to serve liquor to guests dining in-house, and at wedding functions. Membership of the Small Luxury Hotels affiliation can be transferred over to any new owner of the business following a routine quality audit.

“Both occupancy levels and room rates have grown as a result of the investment spent on Greenhill Lodge’s guest amenities over the past six years, along with marketing through the Small Luxury Hotel network which appeals to high net-worth free independent travelers,” Mr Greenwood said.

There are only seven New Zealand properties which are members of the Small Luxury Hotel alliance. Greenhill Lodge is the only venue in the North Island – with the remaining six scattered across the South Island.

The business employs two full-time food and beverage staff, a housekeeper, and gardener. Owner/manager’s accommodation at Greenhill Lodge consists of two separate bedrooms, kitchenette, and lounge area within the main homestead. For recreational activities, the property’s former stables have been converted into a gymnasium, while guests also have access to an inground swimming pool and adjacent fire-side outdoor dining area.

Greenhill’s gardens are highly respected among New Zealand horticulturalists for his use of curving forms which include both formal and informal elements, and keep the homestead hidden until the last moment when coming up the driveway. He also promoted the use of native trees among the earlier-planted exotics.

Mr Greenwood said the Greenhill homestead-style lodge could also be reverted back to a luxury private residence – which could be let out through the likes of Airbnb when not in use by its owners.

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