Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Quite apart from the impossibility of getting my head around that figure - "in-country spend only" the brief clarifies - there's the moral issue here. How many people's eyesight could that much money restore? How many rhino protected from poachers? How much life-saving medical research funded? But let's be generous and assume that the fortunate owners of this "extreme wealth" assign a decent portion of their lucre to deserving causes, and are simply looking for a carefree and memorable holiday that includes plenty of experiences that money can't necessarily buy. Except, of course, it does. Yes, they could take a picnic to a beach in the Bay of Islands and do a bit of swimming and snorkelling - who hasn't done that? Except their version is to be whisked by helicopter to an uninhabited islet and unpack a 5-star gourmet package with the very best chilled Cloudy Bay or Kim Crawford to sip with it. Because they're rich, and they can.
Kauri Cliffs, or Blanket Bay, or Huka Lodge is that they charge from around several thousand dollars a night so that you can feel that the place is yours, and you can wander about making wishes that are granted as magically as if there were a fairy godmother on the premises rather than low-profile focused managers calling in all their local knowledge and know-how. The food is always 5-star, Pacific Rim fusion, using local produce and much of it grown on the property. There will always be an infinity pool, uninterrupted views of mountains, lake or sea, a ferny spa, a marble bathroom, quantities of stone, glass and timber, and helicopters at the ready. It's another world, really - or, a parallel one, with the same scenery and type of experience (fishing, hiking, biking, sleeping in a strange bed, your food cooked for you) but on another level entirely.
I know: I've been there. Not paying, naturally, but lapping up freebies at Blanket Bay, Matakauri Lodge, Treetops, Eichardt's... And they've been gorgeous, truly. But pay all that money? I'd rather save a rhino. (Though, if you're reading this, Eagle's Nest, I'm happy to come for a gander.)