A couple of weeks ago I had a fabulous long weekend with my daughter Anna, staying at Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown.
It’s not our first time and it won’t be our last time. We just love being at Millbrook away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, yet everything is accessible. I honestly don’t know where else I would stay. We love the ambiance of the resort and there is so much to do including the golf and the spa.
Until this visit I had not appreciated how much history surrounds this New Zealand landmark. Millbrook was originally a wheat farm. In the 1860’s French brothers John and Peter Butel arrived from Normandy. They established a successful farm to feed the hungry miners during the gold-rush. The rustic remains of their gatehouse, the homestead and the old mill remained on the property and have been incorporated into Millbrook Resort after Japanese owner, and founder, Mr Ishii bought the land in 1993.
Today, the homestead is the Millbrook’s reception and the mill, the Millhouse restaurant.
Twenty-five years on from when he purchased the land, Mr Ishii, as he is fondly referred to by the Millbrook staff has grown the property. From what started as a modest hotel is now a world acclaimed resort. It has won multiple awards including the ‘Oceania’s Best Golf Hotel’ in 2016 and the winner of the ‘World Luxury Hotel awards’ also in 2016.
The stunning property offers so much in terms of dining, spa, gym and swimming facilities, cycling tracks and of course golf. The 27-hole golf course is now an integral part of the New Zealand Open providing great golfing facilities for guest and people staying outside of the resort.
Mr Ishii is passionate about the land and is very respectful of it. He has nurtured its natural beauty referring to it as ‘paradise on earth.’ From its inception he wanted to create a life-style resort people could enjoy.
He was recently recognised in New Zealand’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to New Zealand-Japanese relations, golf and tourism and his involvement in multi -award winning resort.
The Ishii family have been successful in business for a number of years with his grandmother starting a business in art supplies, Top Corporation. Mr Ishii, an only child was bought up by his mother and was also involved in the business. They later diversified into computer software. The business is now in its fourth generation with Mr Ishii’s son Gota, now the Company President. He also has a daughter who lives in London
If you have been to Millbrook you may have noticed a bronze sculpture of a rabbit, dedicated to Fusako Ishii, Mr Ishii’s mother. In the oriental calendar she was born in the year of the rabbit. She loved Millbrook and often came for three-six months of the year. Before she died she asked Mr Ishii to make a statue in memory of her. In the Japanese culture a son must visit his mother’s grave every year. She knew how busy Mr Ishii was, but she knew he would find time to go to Millbrook and hence he would visit her there.
The food at Millbrook is excellent. We ate in the Milhouse Restaurant which I would describe as fine dining. They also have the ‘Hole in One’ cafe for coffees, lunches, drinks and evening casual dining. Breakfast is served in the Clubhouse.
For part of the year the Japanese restaurant, Kobe Cuisine is open. Hopefully this will change soon to being open all year.
Millbrook has been voted New Zealand’s number one hotel for the last three consecutive years by TripAdvisor, which further endorses what a great resort it is. They have five types of luxurious accommodation to choose from. Studio rooms, one and two bedroom suites, cottages and fairway homes. They are all built to take advantage of the stunning mountainous views surrounding the resort.
I’ll be back and thank you Mr Ishii for taking a punt on New Zealand. We love you for what you have created.
Other posts of interest if you are visiting the Arrowtown region.