Estimated to have cost USD 50 million to build, and named the world’s best new luxury hotel of 2016 yet consisting of just five suites capable of accommodating no more than ten people, every conceivable convenience has been incorporated in Helena Bay to ensure that its guests literally want for nothing. Owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov, who is chairman of steel company Evraz in partnership with Roman Abramovich, this adults-only oceanfront retreat is a three-hour drive north of Auckland, situated on two miles of stunning coastline in the northeast corner of New Zealand’s North Island.
Yet whilst the size and scale of this boutique property is as breathtaking as the detailing and decadence of the place, it’s as much about what you cannot see as what you can. In a modern take on Upstairs Downstairs, a rabbit warren under the main residence comprises rooms within rooms, services on a par with a vast commercial venture, hidden corridors running the length of the main swimming pool, and kilometres of ducting, pipes and underground corridors to ensure that the main residence’s comfort levels of air handling, fire safety, IT, kitchen services, heating and cooling are top of the line.
Helena Bay is the first ever hotel to offer accommodation directly on one of New Zealand’s beaches, while being surrounded by lush forest and the tranquil cove. Guests are accommodated in two separate 1,450ft2 beachfront villas along with five 700ft2 suites boasting sliding doors to the waterfront. Five staff members attend to the whims of each guest. And whilst the architecture and décor is intentionally on the bland side so as not to distract from the beautiful surroundings, guest rooms are kitted out with the finest European linens and bathrooms are mosaic lined.
Facilities include a private European-style spa, art gallery and heated outdoor pool. Michelin-starred executive chef Ernesto Laccarino, from Italy’s famed Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890, oversees chef Michele Martino in the creation of traditional Italian cuisine sustained from the property’s own farm, including vegetable and herb gardens, greenhouses, orchards, cattle and sheep. In fact Laccarino’s ‘estate to plate’ policy means that delicious lamb and Wagyu beef come directly from the on-site farm. There are even eight beehives on the property producing Helena Bay’s own honey.
Naturally this level of luxury and exclusivity come at a price. Nightly rates for an entry-level junior suite start at USD 1,750 for one person including pre-dinner drinks, dinner and breakfast. Spa treatments are extra.