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With every step that we took, a rustling sound echoed in the thick cover of the kowhai, beech and cabbage trees overhead. A shadow lurked nearby, no matter if we slowed or sped up our pace.
It soon became as clear as the waters of Arthur’s Bay in New Zealand, which fronts the 128-acre Bay of Many Coves (BOMC) resort: My husband, Ben, and I were being followed.
The culprit was a fantail, one of the many endemic birds found in Marlborough Sounds. Billy, as we dubbed him, had developed an inquisitive affection for us, mirroring our hiking route and chortling with high-pitched “cheet” sounds along the way. After staying behind as we continued to a waterfall — the main attraction of the BOMC-maintained path — Billy reappeared and followed us back to the hotel.
The next morning, we realized an alarm clock wasn’t necessary during a stay at the five-star BOMC, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World that is set in the Marlborough Sounds’ Queen Charlotte Sound. Each morning, a choir of feathered altos and sopranos urged their audience to get out of bed, open the screenless windows and take in the breathtaking scene. (We figured that Billy was among them and, with his talent, probably had a solo or two.)
We heeded this siren call, first from the private deck of our raised, standalone one-bedroom apartment, and then on the downhill stroll down to The Kumatage, one of three a la carte restaurants on property. I most looked forward to dining here, where we feasted on elaborate, delicious dishes such as wild game chorizo with poached eggs, and stacks of chubby cinnamon pancakes drenched in macerated berries, maple syrup and vanilla creme fraiche.
“This is necessary fuel for the adventures ahead,” Ben and I sheepishly assured each other.
And we were proven right, especially during an afternoon of kayaking around the sounds while keeping an eye out for transient dolphins.
We also hiked another, much steeper trail up to the BOMC Lookout — which offers a magnificent vista from 1,266 feet high — before racing against the sunset to return for dinner at the on-site Foredeck Restaurant. (At the lookout’s viewpoint, a sign will congratulate trekkers that they have climbed 203 feet higher than the Eiffel Tower.)
Indeed, “must love nature” should be checked off as a criterion before travel advisors send clients to BOMC, largely because it would be a shame to take the hotel’s idyllic natural setting for granted. The property is far off the beaten track — so much so that guests must arrive by a 30-minute water taxi from Picton or, for the most discerning of clients, by helicopter.
Further integrating BOMC with its environment is the hotel’s dedication to sustainability. Recycling is a priority (discarded glass is turned into concrete for construction, for example); all food waste is composted; and even gray water is carefully reused.
Most guests will likely spend every waking moment outside, including soaking in the communal pool or hot tub. But when seeking shelter, BOMC’s contemporary lodgings and amenities will help tired bodies rest easy. If the property is a stop on a lengthy journey through New Zealand, clients will be relieved to find a shared washer and dryer here. (All two-bedroom apartments except for the Kereru Suite have their own en suite laundry machines.) In the same room, books, DVDs and board games are available.
In our spacious accommodation, a separate dining and living area contained a stove, a sink, a table with ample seating and a small dishwasher. We especially appreciated thoughtful details such as complimentary whole coffee beans (and use of a grinder, a tea kettle and a French press), fresh flowers, binoculars and flashlights.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by valerie (chen) adair 👋🏻 (@valerielily) on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:31am PDT
A post shared by valerie (chen) adair 👋🏻 (@valerielily) on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:31am PDT
The flashlights came in handy on our last evening, when we set off in search of glowworms, a New Zealand insect species that emits a bioluminescent glow to trap other bugs into their sticky snares.
As we maneuvered the meandering Coastal Walking Track and then the interconnected Don’s Track — which were both blanketed by darkness, with no flickers of light in sight — we almost lost hope. Then, there they were: dozens of glowworms reflecting the star-studded night sky.
The DetailsBay of Many Coveswww.bayofmanycoves.co.nz
Small Luxury Hotels of the Worldwww.slh.com