How Forbes-listed billionaire Julian Robertson turned a sheep farm into luxury resort The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs.
When Julian Robertson Jr first visited New Zealand in 1978 on a year-long sabbatical with his wife and kids, the plan was to write a novel.
Robertson, born in North Carolina, US, ended up building his second home instead.
Known as “The Wizard of Wall Street” in the ’80s, Robertson’s stock-picking acumen – his hedge fund Tiger Management peaked at over US$23 billion – led him to buy a working sheep farm near the Bay of Islands.
Says the 84-year-old: “I saw it at the worst time of the year, August, and it was nothing but a filthy wet sheep farm.
“I really bought it mainly because it was cheaper than a modest New York City apartment.” The lodge includes a 6.5km designer golf course.
The resort has none of that industrial chic edge of The Landing. Instead, the Southern plantation-style lodge is run like a boutique hotel with 22 guest suites.
The clientele is largely Hong Kong and South Korean businessmen playing golf and check out the farmland.
A group of Chinese executives that we met were particularly interested in observing sheep shearing, as wool was once a key export revenue for New Zealand.
While Kauri Cliffs offers room to relax, there’s a sense one should always be ready to network here.
Having a smart jacket on hand is a good idea – in any case, you’ll need to put it on for dinner.
A SIDE OF VIEW
Designed by the late acclaimed golf course architect Dave Harman from Orlando, US, the bentgrass-padded course currently ranks #49 on The World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses by Golf Digest.
While the seventh hole comes with a view of the famous pink beach from the back tee, hole 15 is the most demanding at par 5. Notable players on this course include Hunter Mahan (winner of two World Golf Championship events) and former prime minister of New Zealand John Key.
Wrap yourself in New Zealand’s prized export manuka honey at Kauri Cliffs Spa, where customers include guests from The Landing who take a fiveminute helicopter ride over.
Here’s what goes into its signature treatment.
01 SCRUBBED UP GOOD
A fragrant manuka honey and walnut scrub rich in nutrients that exfoliates without drying out sensitive skin.
02 WARMING UP
Don’t underestimate the powers of a hot essential oil-infused towel pressed lightly against your face to help you relax.
03 DO RUB IT IN
Besides the scrub, manuka honey is also turned into a luscious creme (known as manuka souffle) that is bliss when kneaded and rubbed into bunched up muscles a la Swedish-style massage. This is followed by a wrap so all the healing properties of the cream – the thick golden liquid is known for lightening scars – is fully absorbed by your
skin, leaving it silky smooth.