Blanket Bay was the lodge I looked forward to the most on my trip. Not to say that I did not look forward to the other lodges, nor that they were not all splendid, but Blanket Bay is Blanket Bay, I had seen more, heard more and read more about it, so my expectations were high ... splendid isolation, superb setting, a brooding luxury lodge set on the banks of Lake Wakatipu with the stunning Humbolt Mountains as a backdrop.
A thirty minute or so drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy and you are in another world.
Sir Ian McKellen said "Who needs an after-life when there is Paradise on Earth? Thanks to everyone at my favourite hotel Ian McKellen April 2012" Paradise on earth? I had to see it for myself.
Arriving at Blanket Bay the front doors of the lodge are large and sobre and create an aura of dark mystery, not uninviting, but intriguing as one cannot see inside from outside.
The doors open and my jaw drops, this is a lodge like no other. It is grand on a grand scale, dark polished wood, stone walls, 30 foot high vaulted ceilings in the Great Room, the view is spectacular, the mood serious and timeless - you need a serious amount of time to contemplate the view that greets you.
I had to be torn away from it all to be shown around the property. My tour allows me more time to appreciate the incredible beauty of this place, although many find its design not unlike places in the US, surely none can have such a spell binding setting?
Everywhere the wood is polished so highly that you can see you face in it, the furnishings are grand, decadent and welcoming, the sofas and beds are so comfortable that it is hard to motivate oneself to get up and do anything at all.
My suite! It must surely have been the best in the lodge!
Again, soaring ceilings, a fireplace surrounded by comfy chairs and sofas with views across the lake to the mountains and a huge bed, I decided that I would sleep with the curtains open. My suite is located at the end of the lodge and I have my own terrace, again with views across the lake.
My bathroom boasts the same soaring ceilings and I comment that it is shame that one cannot enjoy the views from the bath as the window above the bath is too high.... but I look again, they have thought of everything! a mirror is perfectly angled on the opposite wall so that you can indeed take in the view. Next morning I notice in the same mirror that fresh snow has fallen on the mountains over night, they look magical.
I want to stay here, in this piece of heaven, light my fire and curl up on one of the sofas with a good book and feel all warm and cosy.
It seems that many people come to Blanket Bay for a celebration, I meet one couple for whom this is their second visit, there are also two honeymoon couples, in fact everyone is part of a celebrating couple except me. The fact that I am on my own in a place of such beauty stirs the curiosity of some and I can quickly work out who will have approached me for a chat before I leave.
Dinner is awesome, although one could hear a pin drop in the dining room. The guests when they do talk, all talk in whispers, the silence is deafening but soon I am mesmerised by the flames of the fire and everyone and everything just melts from my conciousness.
A stay at Blanket Bay can be as relaxing or as strenuous as you wish, lounge around the property, use the telescope in the Great Room room to close in on the mountains, watch a movie on the huge screen in the Games Room, wander down to the shore and along the track beside the lake or luxuriate in the spa. Too relaxing? Then perhaps try a Dart Boat River Cruise or ski, horse ride, hike, bike, fish or clay pigeon shoot. Be as active or sedate as you wish.
Personally, I could sit for hours just looking at the view.
Heaven on Earth? If it isn't it sure comes pretty close.