Come and discover the New Zealand residence that
Luxury Travel Intelligence - a discerning members-only travel site -
named The Best New Luxury Hotel in the World.
The recently opened Helena Bay, said to be "destined to become one of the world's best hotels", beat out properties in New York, Paris and Rome on a list of 2016’s
crème de la crème of luxury accommodations.
So what puts Helena Bay in a league of her own? Let’s explore…
Helena Bay occupies a very special stretch of pristine Pacific Ocean coastline, with four private beaches and scores of little secluded coves. You’ll feel worlds away from city life, yet you’re just a (breathtakingly scenic) 45-minute flight from Auckland International Airport, thanks to the lodge’s own top-of-the-range helicopter.
Helena Bay’s architects, seeking to establish a residence with a sense of timeless legitimacy, were inspired in their design by Northland’s historic Early European buildings (such as The Treaty House in Waitangi and Pompallier Mission House in Russell). So while the 50 million dollar lodge offers every modern luxury one could want, it has the appearance of a building that could have been standing a century ago. In fact, the base of the lodge is clad in Northland sedimentary schist that formed part of the ocean floor 30 million years ago.
The Main House is decorated with fascinating artwork and treasures; pieces collected by Helena Bay’s owners over decades of fabulous travel adventures around the globe.
Staying at Helena Bay means enjoying your own opulent villa. There are just five in all, meaning Helena Bay hosts no more than 10 guests at any one time. (Though if you’re booking the entire lodge for your exclusive use, there are another five generous rooms within the Main House available for your party.) All five suites have waterfront balconies, with views overlooking Helena Bay beach and out across the ocean. All are sumptuous and impeccably appointed.
Helena Bay subscribe to the Antipodean Luxury Travel school of thought – that luxury is in the little details. And none have been overlooked here – from the Leica binoculars provided so you can view visiting whales and dolphins, to the real log-burning fireplaces, to carefully chosen hand-made bed linens from Europe.
Helena Bay is also a bastion to the art and theatre of fine dining. Head Chef Michele Martino was born in Southern Italy, and after training in the best fine dining restaurants in Italy and Europe, joined the world-renowned Iaccarino family at Don Alfonso 1890. Earning respect under the watchful eye of Ernesto Iaccarino, he was asked to Chef at the Don Alfonso 1890 Macau, and then to help establish new Don Alfonso restaurants around the world – including in Dubai and on the Island of Capri. Now at Helena Bay, Michele brings the Don Alfonso standard and philosophy to New Zealand. It’s a philosophy that celebrates organic produce and the local food culture (Helena Bay has its own significant gardens), while incorporating the age-old traditions of the Mediterranean – specifically the Sorrento peninsula and the Amalfi Coast.
Significant investment has been made at Helena Bay to offer guests ‘Estate to Plate’ cuisine. The menu also changes every day, and every night the choice of dining venue is yours – perhaps an elegant candlelit dinner in the formal dining room or in front of an open fire, or on your own private terrace taking in views out across the ocean. During the day, let the chefs create a gourmet picnic for you and make for one of the nearby private beaches.
Special mention must be made of Helena Bay’s Wine Cellar, which houses more than 1000 bottles of expertly curated New Zealand and international wines. Helena Bay's Sommelier works in perfect partnership with the chefs, to find beautiful libations to pair with each meal.
During the day, explore the Northland region, or ‘stay home’ and enjoy the exceptional facilities – including a 25-metre heated outdoor swimming pool (from which to enjoy this region’s “Winterless North” climate) and a truly impressive Gym and Spa Wing. Designed in the style of a traditional Russian Banya (bathhouse), the building is decorated with more than one million ceramic mosaic tiles, and includes a modern gym, luxurious massage therapy room, changing rooms, dry sauna, steam room, and cool plunge pool.
Beyond the lodge, some of the very best diving and fishing experiences on earth await you here…
The iconic Poor Knights Islands – a protected Marine Reserve that’s also a pending UNESCO World Heritage site - lie 20 kilometres off Helena Bay’s coast, and are abundant with dolphins, orca whales and hundreds of fish species.
In terms of diving, the 11 million year-old islands have their own unique ecosystem, and being an ancient volcanic landscape, there are a cornucopia of spectacular structures - drop offs, arches, tunnels and caves (including the world’s largest sea cave). During summer, massive numbers of stingray gather in the archways to mate.
Big game fishing doesn’t get more thrilling than in the waters off the Tutukaka coast. Major sport fish - including striped and blue marlin, swordfish, and massive tuna - thrive here. There’s also massive fun to be had landing the smaller snapper, kahawai and trevally. Have your catch brought back to the lodge and cooked to perfection – there’s little better eating in this world than hours-fresh New Zealand seafood paired with a glass of a local vineyard’s best.
Take a look at this short video, which says much more than words ever could...