WHAT'S IT LIKE? The lobby sets the tone for The Rees' modern-rustic vibe, with exposed beams and a brick fireplace opening at a hyperbolically short and wide hearth that creates a lodge-like effect. But past all this, what first catches your eye is the fairy-tale landscape rolling out beyond floor-to-ceiling windows, where The Remarkables mountain range stands proud in the near distance. The sheer impact of the scene sent me reeling from the start.
WHERE IS IT? A short drive outside of the town center, and en route to the airport, the hotel sits on the bank of Lake Wakatipu, with views of blue glacial waters and rugged mountains commanding attention in every room. A new free shuttle service ferries guests between Queenstown CBD and the hotel.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 60 hotel rooms and 90 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments.
ROOM FACILITIES My room afforded a spectacular lake view that could be enjoyed from a private walk-out terrace or even the bathroom's sunken tub. Electronic shades made it easy to take a mid-afternoon nap, and the staff issued my requested wake-up call right on time. A spacious living area had a neutral-hued couch that could comfortably seat three to four people, an ottoman and dark wood coffee table, while a long, matching desk was opposite a king bed.
Connecting to the Internet was a little confusing (wireless is only available in the lobby), but a quick call to the front desk got me the access code I needed. Other amenities included a 26-inch LCD TV, tea and coffee-making facilities, heated floors in tile areas and an iPod docking station.
MEETING FACILITIES The Conference and Events Center can cater to groups in a boardroom, theater or lecture setting, with a full range of audio-visual presentation systems, video-conferencing facilities and Wi-Fi. I attended a dinner presentation in the True South Dining Room, and the staff was careful to time each course so as not to distract from the speakers.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Open for lunch and dinner, True South has a menu that changes with the seasons, drawing on local ingredients, such as Stewart Island blue cod, free-range pork from Havoc Farm in Waimate, Whitestone cheese and Cairnmuir olive oil. The wine cellar is stocked with wines from neighboring Otago, as well as château wines from Bordeaux.
LEISURE FACILITIES Queenstown is a world-renowned playground for adrenaline junkies and snow bunnies, wine lovers and nature buffs, with enough attractions to keep visitors occupied for as long as they can afford to stay away from home. The free concierge service can help you narrow down the staggering list of activities to best suit your interests, and book them for you in advance. When you return to the hotel from your adventures, you can unwind with a treatment on site at Hush Spa.
VERDICT Sleek and stylish, while managing to remain cozy and personable, The Rees is my top pick for any business or leisure trip that would bring me back to Queenstown.
PRICE Rates start at $195 for a hotel room.
CONTACT The Rees, 377 Frankton Road, Queenstown, New Zealand; tel. 64-3-450-1100; www.therees.co.nz.