Rich tourists want to experience NZ aboard a yacht, or out in the wilderness
Demand from wealthy tourists wanting to stay in extravagant penthouses and spend the day exploring their surroundings on luxury yachts is on the rise.
Kiwi-born multimillionaire Andrew Cox, who offers some of the most expensive accommodation in New Zealand, said rich touristsfrom North America, Europe, and Australia were leading the way.
Cox has bought a luxury yacht, Pacific Jemm, through his company Eichardt’s Private Hotel to keep up the demand for bespoke experiences in Queenstown.
“It’s more than just wanting a hotel room and a comfy bed, we need to be wowing them when they come.”
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The 24-metre yacht can be rented for upwards of $12,500 a night.
“As a luxury brand, we are constantly looking for new ways to deliver incredible experiences and memories for our guests,” Cox said.
“The Pacific Jemm will continue this tradition, ushering in a new way of luxury travel for guests seeking to discover what makes New Zealand truly world-class.”
Luxury tourism was a strong market, because it was “pretty much recession-proof”, he said.
“The ultra-high net worth individual is typically not that affected by economic downturns, and they still travel and they want to experience things. And New Zealand has a huge advantage as a safe haven destination.”
Cox, who was born in Christchurch but is based in Melbourne, Australia, said it was a coup to buy the yacht.
His company, Imperium Collection, catered to the luxury boutique market with two hotels, lakeside apartments, private residence, two restaurants (The Grille and No5 Church Lane), as well as Eichardt’s Bar.
Tourism NZ international business events and premium manager Lisa Gardiner said New Zealand was fast becoming a favourite “rest and relaxation spot for the world’s wealthy elite”.
Spending on Luxury lodge accommodation increased 42 per cent in the year to March 2017 according to the latest figures available, and international research shows that trend will continue.
A very-high net worth individual is defined as someone who is worth between US$5 million (NZ$7.3m) and US$30m, while ultra-high net worth individual is worth more than US$30m.
Ahipara Luxury Travel chief executive Jean-Michel Jefferson said demand from wealthy tourist was strong, and always had been.
For most wealthy tourists, luxury accommodation and fine dining was a part of their everyday life, Jefferson said.
So most tourists who contacted him wanted “authentic deep experiences”, which showcased the natural beauty of New Zealand, he said.
“What it’s about is people and really unusual things that grab people.”
One of his clients, a Forbes list family, flew to New Zealand on two private jets in search of an authentic experience.
“They didn’t want their kids to feel entitled, they wanted something really down to earth.”
So Jefferson organised for them to stay on Moonlight Station, near Queenstown, in what he described as a “basic wilderness lodge”.
Using the station as their base, the family went hiking and took a helicopter trip over Fiordland, among other things, he said.
“For them, being away and being as natural as possible was far more important than bling.”
Other clients had experienced a traditional Maori welcome, hunting tours, cooking courses, including how lay down a hangi, he said.
“Those are the things that people rave about.
“People quite often leave in tears and saying it was transformational.”