SnowsBest gets an exclusive pre season tour of the new Remarkables Base Lodge. Will it be ready in time for the season?
Ross Lawrence is a remarkably (no pun intended) relaxed man for a ski area manager with a mere six weeks up his sleeve to open the doors on NZ Ski’s new $20 million base lodge at The Remarkables ski field near Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island.
Yesterday it was snowing and today the rain is threatening to turn to sleet and the round the clock tradesman on the construction site are battling bracing winds that have the crane hook swinging. But here comes Ross all Kiwi smiles and she’ll be right.
It is a familiar approach. Almost a year to the day ago I visited the same ski field to check out the Curvey Basin chairlift which was in a similar state of ‘will it or won’t it be ready for the opening weekend?’ Ross was in the same state of calm (on the outside anyway) and the chairlift opened on time.
Folks in Queenstown have their doubts about the lodge being ready but I have learnt over the years that some folks in Queenstown doubt everything and are often left surprised. The Curvey Basin chairlift opened on time and if the weather agrees then the base lodge will too. But what I have also learned in Queenstown is the weather rarely agrees.
The plan was to build the swanky new lodge and demolish the old one but the old one is still standing and the creche and ski patrol will remain there, at least for the beginning of this season. If worst comes to worst the resort can still do food service from the old lodge if needed.
But that is seriously worst case scenario because deadline pressure is a great motivator to get things done and when the doors are opened on the new lodge skiers and boarders won’t know what to do with themselves. Yes, it’s that impressive. Especially from an Australian who hasn’t seen a new base lodge in a ski resort in her own country for quite some time.
A tour of the site showcases what the architect, Michael Wyatt, has learnt from the Coronet Peak base lodge built in 2008. This lodge, while smaller, has a definitive flow through for customer service to prevent bottle necks.
Drivers can access the lodge from the road with a drop off zone so the kids can get started while you go and park. Skiers and boarders enter on the ground floor where guest services, rentals, snowsports and retail can be found. A mammoth staircase then allows guests to head upstairs to the dining areas, outside decks and ski field access, beginner area and ski school meeting point.
The lodge has some seriously impressive glass to capture the alpine views from every corner with 800 square metres of glass from floor to ceiling and not one, not two, but three outdoor decks to capture the sunshine with underfloor heating to ensure no nasty slip ups.
Also expect a three metre wide wood burning fireplace with mammoth chimney stack and an industrial concrete and steel design with over 460 truckloads of poured concrete and 140 tonnes of structural steel. The total floor space is 6019 square metres with 4718 square metres of internal space.
I can’t contain my own excitement as we negotiate our way around tradesmen, exposed walls, timber frames and empty space yet to be filled with glass. Bags not be there the day all the glass is installed, especially if it’s windy. There is one definite, this lodge is going to be a big plus for The Remarkables, especially sitting right next to the shiny Curvey Basin chairlift installed last season that opened up more advanced terrain access.
As we drive away I notice the black steel piping that dominates the building and is shaped in a giant upside down W at the entrance which resembles an M doing a half leg split. At first I think it mimics a W Hotel until someone says it is the double cones of The Remarkables mountain. On second glance it looks suspiciously like a giant version of the Michael Wyatt Architects logo.
But Wyatt not, I say (see what I did there). A fitting nod to a man who has changed the shape of both Coronet Peak and now The Remarkables.