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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

An Adventure of Epic Proportions to Rob Roy Glacier




Our Front Office Manager, Mel was lucky enough to be invited on a famil to Rob Roy Glacier last Friday with 'Guided Nature Walks'. Here is her experience of the majestic  landmark ...



... From Queenstown your guide drives you to Wanaka and then you head towards the Mt. Aspiring National Park


The Rob Roy Gorge cuts a swath through the mountainside,  highlighting the true power of nature over thousands of years.

The walk takes about 2.5 hours each way and is littered with views of mighty waterfalls, soaring cliffs and glacial moraine in a collection unsurpassed in one place anywhere in the world.

But it's not just tranquil scenery - our adventure had a slice of drama! Whilst we were walking towards the Glacier we heard a thunderous noise as a huge chunk of ice broke away and crashed to the valley floor in a show of epic proportions. Amazing!

We had lunch seated on rocks, with the Glacier and Waterfalls right in front of us. It definitely took my experience of picnicking to new levels!

The great thing about the Southern Lakes region is that it is ideal to visit all four seasons of the year- and the Rob Roy Glacier is no exception. While absolutely stunning to visit in winter, with the abundance of snow and ice, I must say the contrast of ice against the vibrant greenery and clear summer skies was utterly breathtaking.

The pictures don't do it justice, it's definitely a site you need to see first-hand!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Get Ready To Celebrate Winter!


It’s getting cold here, but Winter doesn’t officially start in Queenstown until the fireworks erupt over Lake Wakatipu. 

Yes, it’s that time of year again and our town is busy preparing for the annual Winter Festival (WinterFest).
WinterFest is a week jam-packed full of fun events, all to celebrate the beginning of the snow season. This year, it starts on the 22nd of June and finishes on the 1st of July. The Rees Hotel is participating as a one of the major accommodation partners.

As there is so much on it can be a little overwhelming to pick which events to attend, so to help your out here are some of my recommendations.

The American Express Opening Party, complete with fireworks display, is something you don’t want to  miss! It will be held at the Earnslaw Park from 5.30pm with the fireworks scheduled at 7 pm.  Of course there will be music to keep you entertained as well as food stands.

For families with children, Saturday 23rd of June is the perfect day to get the most from the festival. There will be a parade at 11am in the CBD. Auckland Airport Family Fun Day will be held at the Earnslaw Park afterwards. Free to enter or just watch, the More Fm Birdman competition promises to be “wet, wild and totally out of control!” See the madness unfold as fearless thrill-seekers in ridiculous costumes launch themselves off Queenstown Wharf into the freezing cold waters of Lake Wakatipu. This adrenaline-charged event captures the true spirit of the Adventure Capital of the World!

The evening on the 29th will be the first evening of the Coronet Peak Night Ski season. It is a very surreal experience to be on the mountain with music and night sky, even if you are not an avid skier! The night ski continues on the 30th and every Friday and Saturday throughout the season.

The big finale on the 1st of July is the Auckland Airport International Mardi Gras and it’s just as unmissable as the Opening Ceremony. Queenstown’s streets will be filled with people celebrating the beginning of Winter with plenty of music, a parade, food, fun and excitement.
The full programme will available at the Concierge Desk during the Festival for your convenience.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Life as a Keeper of the Golden Keys

As you many of you will know, I recently received my Les Clefs d’Or [otherwise referred to as the golden keys] accreditation. It was a wonderful ceremony held in the Bordeau Lounge at The Rees Hotel, with some fantastic photos taken by Stefan Haworth of TappedNZ Photography, as well as video footage appearing on TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ show.

Internationally, a Concierge is the modern term evolved from the traditional ‘Comte des Cierge’, originally a keeper commonplace among Palaces and Ch√Ęteaus. Holders of the keys were hosts to VIPs. This is where Les Clefs d’Or golden keys come from.

After the golden keys ceremony we had a little celebration at Queenstown hot spot, Below Zero, a bar made almost entirely out of ice! Ice sculptures, including a cute penguin or two, decorate the place and a myriad of cocktails are available out of ‘glasses’ made entirely of ice. Refreshing! It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and exactly what we needed to wind down from all the excitement of the Les Clefs d’Or action.

Since wearing my golden key lapel pins on duty, I have had a lot of interesting reactions and feedback from guests. There have been plenty of questions as to what the golden keys mean and why I am wearing them. International and veteran travellers tend to recognise them straight away, and gravitate towards speaking to me as the keys are a trusted symbol.

There have even been a few special requests to speak to the "Concierge with the golden keys." It is heartening to see what a fantastic reputation Les Clefs d’Or has internationally and the positive experiences that many guests have obviously had with my fellow members.

A part of my new Les Clefs d’Or duties includes involvement in organising the 60th International Congress U.I.C.H Les Clefs d'Or in Queenstown for 2013. Guest numbers have been confirmed for approx. 450 members attending. With most of the hard work still ahead of us, I’m very excited to take on the challenge of welcoming such a huge group to our beautiful region of Queenstown. I am really proud to show the world what a jewel in the crown this place really is!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Lights, Camera & Action!

Filming has started for a brand new video of our Concierge service to show our guests just how much we really can help them plan the perfect holiday!

We have a wealth of hands-on experience and can tailor any request! Just ask the happy guest who I helped plan a very romantic surprise proposal for.

This guide to our Concierge services will be shown in every room so you can plan a few ideas while you are here, but it will also be sent with our prior arrival email to all of our guests well before check-in. We're hoping it'll inspire help you completely book your holiday activities well prior to arriving here!
Whyte Waters along with Chrissy and her film crew from Remarkable Studios are working with us on the project.

So, what to do Queenstown? Well, it only seemed fitting that I went out 'in the field' myself to show you how it’s done.

 Get ready to see my adventures:

It’s still a work-in-progress but we are looking to have it ready to go by the end of March. Keep a look out on Facebook!

Monday, 28 November 2011

It's Official: We Join the Ranks of Les Clefs d’Or!



Only the finest hotel Concierges throughout New Zealand achieve this and I'm proud to announce I was successful with my application to Les Clefs d’Or, New Zealand’s Hotel Concierge Society and am an accredited Les Clefs d’Or member of the Queenstown area.

Associated to the Union International Hotel Concierge ‘Les Clefs d’Or’, my new accreditation is recognised by the Crossed Golden Key lapel pins, which will be presented to me by my President of Les Clef d’Or Franz Staufer at a ceremony in January. I’ll wear these while on duty at the Concierge Desk

I now not only take my place as The Rees Hotel’s Head Concierge, but as an accredited Les Clefs d’Or member of the Queenstown area, joining the much respected Daniel Marsh at Millbrook, Fiona Lawson at Crowne Plaza, Bryan Wilkinson at Sofitel and Nathan Wise at The Hilton.

Mission Bay views - perks of my application!
This wealth of experience just goes to show the immense quality and talent of the Queenstown hospitality industry, which translates into a fantastic holiday experience for Queenstown visitors.

It is this great network of Concierges that will play host to the 60th International Congress U.I.C.H Les Clefs d'Or in Queenstown, New Zealand for 2013.

Queenstown, with it’s population of 15,000, will be a bit of a shock for international delegates, accustomed to conferences held in cities such as London and Toronto. But I am looking forward to introducing them to the endless offerings our small town has to give. For me, Queenstown trumps all the major cities any day.

The journey to becoming a member of Les Clefs d'Or - my knowledge of Queenstown has swiftly gone from great to flawless - hasn't been easy! But all the challenges I have overcome in order to achieve this have been worth it. I now know I am 100% deserving of one of the highest honours a Concierge can achieve!



Monday, 3 October 2011

Take to the Skies on a Scenic Tiki Tour

I recently road tested the MV Pembroke Heli Tours adventure. This involves a scenic helicopter flight, before boarding the Pembroke boat for an overnight cruise through Doubtful Sound.

I had seen Doubtful Sound from road a few times but I can tell you now, that view definitely does not do it justice. Nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking heli views.Make sure you enjoy the endless options of this collaboration by fishing, diving, manning the crayfish pots or just relaxing.

Milford Sound is the typical scenic experience that is always talked about when you come to Queenstown - I am a big fan myself. But it was great to try out an alternative for a change of scenery. They are both must-sees!

Heli Tours are perfect for saving valuable minutes when your itinerary is packed with activities, but low on time. It’s like a super-speed tiki tour - you can save time by taking the scenic route directly to your destination. If you have already booked a great bunch of adventures for your holiday, optimise your time by flying there.

My personal recommendation would be to plan a scenic transfer. A great example would be a horse trek across Mount Difficulty, with a heli to drop you off and pick you up.

The Curio Bay surf package is another fantastic idea. You will be flown out and taught to surf. It's a great way to take in the sea views and finally get to learn something that you have always wanted to do.
The Rees Concierge team has a great knowledge of all the local activities and we can work with Heli Tours to tailor a package that makes the most sense.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Gaining "Les Clefs d'Or" Certification ...

I initially decided to become a Concierge after I realised that you can't beat the satisfaction of being an integral part of helping a guest achieve their dream holiday.

The Concierge team provides such a valuable service, I strongly suggest that you take full advantage of it in any hotel you stay in. I know that for our guests, especially in a tourist hot-spot like Queenstown, the task of weeding through all the duds and finding the golden nuggets of adventure can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Yes, a lot of this can be booked online, which would seem handy for international visitors. But there’s so much available over the internet, it’s extremely time consuming to establish which will be at the right place, time and price for your stay. You can often be sorely disappointed when it comes to crunch time, which is even worse if you have travelled halfway around the world for the trip.

Over the years, a Concierge would've built up a phenomenal amount of  sought-after ‘local knowledge’, that safeguards guests from the tourist-traps and mastered the art of networking with trusted suppliers.

A booking agent differs greatly from the Concierge serve as it is against the Concierge codes of conduct to endorse products that you are getting any kind of commission for. This means that you can trust a Concierge to recommend what they genuinely believe to be the best quality and value service, rather than an endorsement.

Our list of recommendations has been carefully built up over the years and road tested by our own staff famils, personal experience, guest feedback and the insider knowledge that comes with being part of the hospitality and tourism industry. We go on regular famils with new and old companies, to ensure that we are fully up-to-date with everything on offer in the area.

After nearly six years behind the Concierge desk, I finally feel ready to embark on my initiation into Les Clefs d'Or (“The Golden Keys"), the prestigious Hotel Concierge Society, internationally recognised with chapters on every continent.

Les Clefs d'Or likens the archetypical Concierge to wine - 'they mellow with age', the longer they stay in the profession, the better they get.” The Les Clefs d'Or pedigree caters to many of the best five star hotels internationally, with the next International Congress meet being held in London, January 2012.


The list of qualities a great Concierge needs to have is extensive and to qualify for Les Clefs d'Or you need all of them! This includes; years of top-notch, uninterrupted experience behind the desk; knowledge of anything and everything; a sharp wit; fantastic manners; but above all, a people-person with the desire to serve!


It takes a lot of hard work and training to become the Concierge who has what it takes. This is reflected in the rigorous process involved with become a fully-fledged member. My application has been officially accepted and I am flying up to Auckland on the 29th September for five days, meeting on the 30th September.
Wish me luck and stay-tuned for more updates!