In Travel

Rock Star Treatment: Inside The NZ Hotel Preferred By Sir Paul McCartney

When the staff of an insanely high-end resort – like The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand – tell you that they moved a grand piano into the “cottage” where you’re now staying for a recent guest, Sir Paul McCartney, it makes you wonder.

Were they doing that for him, because they thought he might require a piano nearby at all times, or are they doing it for themselves, secretly hoping that he might tinkle the expensive ivories for them, at close quarters?

These are the kinds of questions I’m asking as I lie back in a giant, slate-sided 10-person outdoor spa, resting my eyes from all the wonders and luxury they have taken in during the introductory tour of the Owner’s Cottage, which is basically a four-bedroom mansion, tucked away at the most picturesque, verdant, sheep-dotted corner of this decadently delightful resort on the cliff-tastic eastern shore of New Zealand’s North Island.

 The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

I must admit I also found myself asking just how rock-star rich you’d have to be to plonk down around $17,000 a night for you, and seven friends, to rent the McCartney-touched Owner’s Cottage in the peak sunshine of summer.

You are, at that price, getting the very best of one of the world’s best, and most idyllic, places to stay, with The Farm at Cape Kidnappers recently voted the top place to stay in the South Pacific, and number four in the world in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2019.

Just for good measure, the on-site golf course was also recently rated in the top 10 in the world. Frankly, the views it offers are so vastly wondrous it’s a wonder anyone can focus on their golf game.

The kitchen and dining areas in the Owner’s Cottage – always fully stocked with delectable things for you to eat and drink, because those prices are, of course, all-inclusive – are only outdone by the hotel’s main building, which features elegant and arty lounging and dining areas, welcoming fireplaces, gourmet breakfast offerings and a dining room in a wine cave.

The only way to properly describe it is that it feels like you’ve been invited into the home of a billionaire (even the prints on the wall outside my room turn out to be genuine actual Picasso sketches) because this is how you’d hope they all live.

And to be fair, you kind of have. Julian Robertson Jnr, 87, is an American hedge fund billionaire who fell in love with New Zealand back in the 1970s and then started buying up his favourite parts. He now has three incredible lodges dotted around the country, and The Farm (which is actually a working farm as well as a resort, with 6000 acres, every one of them seemingly hosting 10,000 very expensive-looking sheep) was his second.

Robertson, an art collector who has already donated $150m worth of his paintings to the Auckland Art Gallery and plans to leave them plenty more when he dies, chose this site in 2001 after seeing it from the air, and then spent six years perfecting every single detail.

The Farm is just a 45-minute drive from Napier, which is a surprising and delighting little town full of art deco architecture, but many of the guests choose to transfer by helicopter instead.

 The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Entertainment options include just sitting back and taking in the views, with a coastline that looks like Scotland if it sat next to a nicer, bluer ocean, clay-pigeon shooting, searching for the rare and endangered Kiwi bird with a guide, rambling on bush walks or just stuffing yourself with the incredible food you are offered (your minibar even features freshly home-baked delights in a kind of magical, self-filling jar).

Or, as we found, you can experience what a typical New Zealand earthquake feels like (both disconcerting and somehow exciting, as it turns out).

And, if you ask nicely, they might even wheel out a grand piano for you.

(All images: Cape Kidnappers / supplied) 

Published 02 March, 2020