This Summer Dream Trip Has a 6-Star Hotel Stay and a Flight on a Winery Airline

New Zealand's upcoming re-opening has us dreaming big

New World wines - vineyard in New Zealand

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As if New Zealand re-opening its borders after two years of closures isn't enough to entice us to plan a trip to Queenstown, now we have two more.

Oft-cited as the "Adventure Capital of the World," Queenstown, located on New Zealand's South Island, is becoming a solid player in the luxury travel market. In February, the city opened The Carlin Boutique Hotel, the country's first six-star hotel.

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Queenstown Bay area, the seven-story hotel can accommodate up to 50 guests at a time, with eight one- and two-bedroom suites available to book. For larger parties, guests also can book an adjoining suite. Each suite features a David Shaw sofa bed, gas fireplace, terrace with a heated spa, outdoor dining area, free soft minibar, fully equipped kitchen, dining table, smart toilet, double vanity, and freestanding bathtub.

A stay in any one of these suites would ordinarily be considered the height of glamor, but if you really want to treat yourself, look no further than The Carlin Skyhome Penthouse, which starts at NZD 17,000 a night. The Southern Hemisphere's largest penthouse suite, the penthouse can be expanded into seven bedrooms by booking three interconnecting rooms—the Eagle's Nest, the Presidential Suite, and the Royal Suite—that connect via private elevator. The Eagle's Nest alone comes with extra wow-worthy amenities— including a chef's kitchen, separate powder room, private access, and massage chair—that the other suites don't have, and guests who book the Skyhome Penthouse will have access to a private reception and butler's office for the utmost exclusivity.

Eagle's Nest Penthouse Suite

Courtesy of The Carlin Boutique Hotel

Even if you don't book a night in the penthouse, all guests at the hotel can enjoy a range of luxurious amenities, including afternoon tea, a premier spa, valet service, complimentary airport transfer, nightly turndown service, complimentary breakfast, signature cocktails upon arrival, and evenings filled with live music and stand-up comedy. Through the Carlin's Guardian Angel program, each guest will be in the hands of hotel ambassadors, butlers, chefs, massage therapists, and other staff that knows their personal preferences "so they can be given the best-in-class treatment like a personalized welcome gift and enjoy their stay to the fullest."

When you get hungry, the Carlin's on-site restaurant, ORO, serves up local and seasonal dishes like mini crayfish rolls and Wagyu beef burgers. Led by executive chef Thomas Barta, who previously worked in Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred restaurant, Claridge's, ORO is sure to deliver on its promise of an unforgettable meal.

While you can book a private charter jet to the hotel, we're eyeing flights on Invivo Air, the world's first winery airline. The airline is an arm of Invivo & Co., which has won more than 250 medals since it released its first wines in 2008. Sourcing grapes from famed New Zealand wine regions such as Marlborough, Central Otago, Hawke's Bay, and Gisborne, the country's first equity crowdfunded wine company has gained accolades from the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Graham Norton.

Invivo Air's inaugural flight, which co-founder Tim Lightbourne expects to launch this summer or fall, will travel to Queenstown from Auckland—an approximate two-hour trip. The airline initially planned to charter a 34-seat Saab plane for the inaugural flight, but Invivo says that they are now looking at bigger planes due to the amount of interest they have received.

Passengers will pick between two tiers of tickets: The first comes with a one-night stay at the Hilton Queenstown hotel, while the second includes an extraordinary itinerary that involves a trip to some of Invivo's vineyards and a tasting with Invivo co-founder and winemaker Rob Cameron. All passengers will receive complimentary treats from the winery on each flight, including a sampling of some of Invivo's award-winning wine and non-alcoholic beverages.

"The pricing of each tier of ticket will reflect the experience that the guest will receive on the trip," Lightbourne told TripSavvy. "Rob and [I] will be serving guests ourselves... at Invivo Air, it's business class in every glass!"

Only New Zealand residents 18 and up can register their interest at this time, but Lightbourne says that they will be inviting international visitors to join once the country re-opens.

"While there will be a number of [complimentary] seats prioritized for the New Zealand hospitality community who have had a really tough couple of years, we also plan to allocate some seats to international travelers, to help encourage visitors to our beautiful county at the bottom of the world," said Lightbourne. "Our international guests will be given a pretty unique experience by our friendly Kiwi team."

Suites at The Carlin start at NZD 1,975 a night.

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  1. Invivo & Co. "Invivo Launches Invivo Air." Accessed March 22, 2022.