Even when a fire isn’t glowing in the massive schist fireplace that dominates the vaulted room, the lobby of the St Moritz is an impressive entry to this luxury hotel. I step in and take a breath of surprise at the grandeur of this space, cosy despite its height.
As I walk through and up to my room, I find more celebrations of the Central Otago landscape that surrounds the hotel – from the stunning mountains, still with patches of snow on my visit, to the expanse of Lake Wakatipu, and the trees that flank the tourist Mecca of Queenstown.
Part of the Sofitel’s exclusive M Gallery range of properties, the rooms at the St Moritz have been transformed in a makeover by interior designer Stewart Harris. Layers of natural colours, dark timber, textures and fine patterns are lifted by sophisticated touches of shimmering metallics. Splashes of teal pick up the lake’s intensity, and a mustard chair reminds guests of the region’s history of gold-prospecting – and wealth, still evident today.
My dormer window overlooks the lake, busy with charters, parasailing, and the iconic Earnslaw steamship, tooting as it passes. The room’s ideal as a base to explore the nearby town. It has a simple kitchen for quick meals, but today I prefer to head to the in-house Lombardi restaurant.
Here, I can experience the tastes of the south too, from the wild Fiordland venison loin, tender in its lavender and honey glaze, with beetroot and pears, to the ‘Central Otago Gold Rush’, a concoction of chocolate brownie, hokey-pokey ice cream, and a hollow chocolate sphere.
I see diners with ‘flights’ of local wines in tiered stands, but I’m satisfied with my single glass of fine Gibbston River pinot noir.
– Brenda Ward