A New Dawn at Terrace Downs

Terrace Downs (Supplied)
Terrace Downs (Supplied)

It used to say something like “Welcome to New Zealand’s leading resort destination” which unfortunately rang a little hollow because it wasn’t. However, that may well be already on the way to being the truth with a new dawn visible.

More on that shortly.

When the owner died early last year without leaving a will the resort closed and went into limbo for months. So the golf course was off-limits for all but the very small membership who could use it with their own resources. All very sad because the original owner Professional golfer Shinnosuke Saito’s vision was great with all the infrastructure required for a destination resort planned and promised to property purchasers, such as Pool, Spa pools, fitness centre and day spa. They did get two underused tennis courts.

The golf course, designed with the assistance of internationally renowned architects Sid Puddicombe and Associates was completed in 2001 and the 52 villas by 2005. When the money ran out so did the clear vision, with successive management leaving the resort with none of the above when it closed. Property owners at the resort had been short-changed all those years. A bare skeleton staff was retained.

Now comes the good news. The resort was bought at auction late last year by CPG hotels for $6.6 million. The Pandey family which owns CPG Group has several hotels in New Zealand, Fiji and the USA so they know the hospitality business. Terrace Downs did not reopen until early in March. This writer visited the resort recently and found a refreshing new look and feel to the clubhouse.

The owners have purchased a significant number of the luxury villas. General Manager Andrew Bell formerly from Clearwater said they intend to renovate the villas and the main clubhouse through the rest of 2021 with the intention of the property becoming part of the 5-star Fable brand.

“At this stage, there is a range of plans under discussion regarding additional facilities including a new day spa,” Bell explained.

We can expect that in time there will be more built for purpose buildings, something the resort has desperately needed.

“We have employed Head Chef Scott Buckler who has impressive credentials working with beef and lamb. So we are creating a premium high country offering for dining which is already extremely popular with our neighbouring property owners and people throughout the Selwyn district.”

A major plus is that the internationally recognised golf course has been maintained in excellent condition throughout the lengthy hiatus by the long-serving and talented greenkeeper Craig Middleton and now is welcoming all golfers again.

Bell is excited about the golf innovations they have on offer.

“We have introduced the unique option of dynamic tee time pricing, a first in New Zealand. Golfers can secure great rates by booking in advance, and the system will manage the prices based on demand. There are great deals to be had.

“We also have an over 65 Gold Card rate for Mondays and Tuesdays. We are also introducing golfers packages for the property that combines golf, dinner, bed and breakfast.”

“We are also experiencing a huge wave of interest in weddings {always previously popular) and corporate events from throughout New Zealand as we are back online with a clear diary. Encouragingly our villas were fully booked for Easter.”

It will be great to again enjoy this fun course with the mountain backdrop. The iconic 10th dropdown par 3 with the lake behind and the short but perilous (for golf balls) par 3 16th perched on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Rakaia River far below are two of New Zealand’s standout par threes. It will be great to again be able to play them.

So with all facilities operating again and associated activities available, it will again be a superb destination only this time it may not be long before it is indeed vying for the kudos of “New Zealand’s leading resort destination.”

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