The Split Apple Retreat

Milady A - Monday, May 02, 2016

Leaving Punakaiki towards more of that stunning scenery, I told Mr Big: “As of now, my sweetheart, only the most unique hotels of our holiday!”

Having stayed in luxury hotels such as the ĀMAN, Sheraton, Hilton, Relais & Chateaux in Japan and all those superb luxury lodges of New Zealand, that was quite a statement, and yet … it appeared I was totally right!

Driving towards Motueka, we were both quite anxious to discover our next hot spot as the name “Split Apple Retreat” doesn’t say a lot about what we could expect. At least for those, like us at that time, who did not know what the Split Apple referred to. That special apple gave us quite a surprise …

However what we saw on the website and the 98 ‘perfect’ scores on Tripadvisor, only increased our expectations more and more.

The experience itself however topped even our highest expectations, a thing which rarely happens as the intensity of my extreme expectations can move mountains ☺

A funny thing happened as we arrived in the Tokongawa Drive, where the Retreat should be located. We were searching for number 195, but the road seemed to stop at number 193 ?!
We turned around and asked some people in the street where we could find the luxurious Split Apple Retreat.

Faces showing total disbelief as if we were the most foolish people on earth, they stared at us as if we came from another planet, because they were convinced there was no such thing as the Split Apple Retreat and for sure, not in this street!

What else could we do than to believe that the locals would know better … and yet, although we did turn around, we felt that turning around was not the right thing to do.
So, we turned our car again. You should have seen the eyes of the locals in the street we just talked to, when they saw us driving back, towards the end of the street … I wonder how they must have looked as soon as they realized we did not return this time!

The Split Apple Retreat was definitely there, at the right address, just a little further around the corner.

But even then, we said to each other: “This cannot be it, this place looks like a private house - a very fine one - but I am sure I booked a mostly luxurious hot spot, so it has to look more like a “resort” as in “large place, easily to get to, with signs from kilometers away”.

This totally secluded, private hideaway, however, was exactly the destination we were looking for.

Walking through a beautiful Japan-inspired gateway, I was still convinced we would have to ask once again where to find that “Cracked Apple Place”, but as of the first second Lee introduced himself, I knew we could take a deep breath and start relaxing as I knew, having read the entire website, that Lee and Pen were the very welcoming hosts of this unique place.

New-Zealand Motueka Split Apple Retreat

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Motueka Split Apple Retreat

The Split Apple Retreat is so damn exclusive that it is not visible from the street, not mentioned on any billboard along the road, not large and not eye-catching for non-residents but everything a sophisticated traveler is looking for!

First of all, I have to start my story by telling you about the most joyful, heartwarming welcome we ever had!
Lee and Pen are the owners of this wonderful, exclusive house, which they built from scratch to provide a luxury refuge on one of the most spectacular places in the world, offering a stunning view across the Tasman Bay from their several terraces!

We felt welcomed as if we were their best friends, and indeed, after 4 days we left, with great sadness, but with 2 more great friends in our heart, and we’ll surely stay in touch with for the rest of our life.

Shoes had to be taken off as of our arrival and left at the entrance where a pair of Split Apple slippers was waiting for us. Luckily we went to Japan right before our vacation in New Zealand, so Milady A was already used to leaving 12 pair of high heels in the luggage and walk on slippers. It felt even good, and totally laid back.

Lee showed us around in their wonderful home and one of my first questions must have been: “So, how many rooms do you have here?”

“Only 3,” he replied, “but we think about expanding, the demand is too high!”

Oh whauh, only 3 rooms, I have always been a big fan of those remote treasures around the globe where you can hide from the rest of the world.

The tour felt like walking through a top-notch museum, showing a marvelous collection of ancient antiques from Japan, China, Thailand etc. His love for Japan was more than obvious. There is no such thing as coincidence, and so we ended up there after having travelled through Japan before. Unfortunately, with our one-time encounter with the “land of the rising sun”, there was still a lifetime of things that Lee could teach us about Japan as he travelled at least 30 times to Japan and even speaks about a 1000 Japanese words.
Funny things happen when he travels through Japan with his Thai wife, Pen, as the Japanese ask questions to her, but it is Lee who responds in Japanese.
How cool is that!

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Motueka Split Apple Retreat

After the antiques, came the superb facilities of the house, an amazing infinity swimming pool, an outdoor spa pool, a gym, an infrared sauna, steam room, and outdoor showers to indulge a shower under the millions of stars in the sky.

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Motueka Split Apple Retreat

A stunning wellness spot in the middle of superb nature, what more could we ask for?
Well, there was more, much more!

The house has an 8-seater movie theatre for viewing movies, dvds or tv.
And trust me, the seats were way more comfortable than in a real movie theatres.

If we didn’t like to watch movies in the large theatre, we could do the same thing in the room, as every room is equipped with Sky TV and Apple TV.
I wonder whether the Apple TV was introduced because of the extra luxury for the guests or as a wink to the Split “Apple” which seemed to be a real, big rock, split in half and lying there for millions of years in the Split Apple Beach which is a private beach, only accessible with Lee and Pen’s instructions.

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Motueka Split Apple Retreat

A private beach at the resort ?!
Totally over the top, isn’t it, … but oh so wonderful to experience! ;-)

In the meantime we met Pen, Lee’s lovely wife, who was already very busy in the kitchen as she is the wonder behind the healthy, thoughtful food we were about to experience that evening for the first time.

The vibes between Lee & Pen and us were resonating like we’ve known each other for years … and we felt totally at home as of the moment we arrived.

Lee showed us our room, we booked the rainbow room, which is … obviously dedicated to anything involving a rainbow!
The rainbow painting was the first thing that popped into our sight, but then, it only got fancier. A rainbow shower, beaming different rainbow colors through the running water as you shower; and so did the bath. Another funny thing to mention here was the fact that Lee, obviously a man with taste, noticed my golden shoes right away, the ones I was wearing on one of my fashion shoots, and branded them as my “rainbow shoes”!

Could we have a more appropriate room?

The view from our room was spectacular and sitting on our terrace we experienced the best of both worlds: the sound of the ocean, as well as the awesome view, but also the scent and feel of sitting in the midst of green nature as each room not only had two private terraces but also a private garden, which once again gave us a fairytale feeling.

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Motueka Split Apple Retreat

We arrived late and therefore could enjoy our first dinner right away. No need to wait, no need to get changed. Just relax and unwind.

We were the only guests that first night, and had the whole place to ourselves.

Pen set the dinner table on the terrace overlooking the sea and even though night had fallen already, and temperatures were quite chilly, we felt totally at ease as our table spot was warmed up with heaters above us and a warm, soft blanket around our shoulders. A moment which we will never ever forget!
I can still recall Mr Big’s eyes; we looked at each other and said: “Better than this is no longer possible!”

We were pampered with delicious gourmet food, designed by Lee & Pens personal passion for good health. Lee is a doctor specializing in nutrition and Pen uses her creativity to make a range of mouthwatering dishes, which are healthy at the same time!
Gosh, you can imagine I felt at home, right?
Lee mentioned that they are dedicated to serve fine food that will help tune the body to achieve excellent health, promote longevity and help their guests to stay forever young!

Whauh … my first reaction was: “How spectacular, we both get a year older on our vacation, but we intend to stay young as long as possible, so we might want to stay here just a little bit longer … !”

As a surprise, Pen came to bring us a welcome gift, which is a cooking book that Lee and her created together, telling their personal story and dedication to healthy food and showcasing many wonderful dishes for us to prepare at home.

Hmmm … I was totally happy and told them that Mr Big is my Chef at home, so I said: “Well, my love, I’ll have a look in the book and mark all the dishes I’d like you to prepare at home ;-)”

Pen jumped in and said: “Oh, I can help you with that, don’t you worry, I give cooking classes for our guests!” and so Mr Big got enrolled for a private cooking class with Pen, as of the first hours since our arrival the wonderful Split Apple Retreat.
Lee also had some nice suggestions for exquisite “private” excursions … so do come back for more, because wonderful stories are on their way!

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Motueka Split Apple Retreat

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