When we first started a new cycle tour business back in 1992, Lake Ohau Lodge was one of the early accommodation gems we discovered. From back then through to the upheaval of the past two months, the customer service delivered by the Lodge has been awesome. As with any company, the culture is set from the top and that has meant that the Lodge staff have been consistently delightful to deal with. The Alps 2 Ocean Trail has provided a new market for Mike & Louise and Cycle Journeys are delighted to share this with them.
What is the capacity of Lake Ohau Lodge and what is the demand like over the summer period?
“Lake Ohau Lodge has 62 rooms spread over four standards of accommodation. All wings are en-suite but having various levels means that we can cater for all budgets. We added the more luxurious Upper Temple Wing in 1997 to compliment what we had inherited. These rooms have the most stunning views over the lake to the mountains, a deck where you can sun yourselves in the afternoon, beautiful art works of Ohau by local artists and when you want to treat yourself this is definitely the wing to choose. Our ground floor Temple Wing rooms are also spacious with great views but offer more bed choices for twin share or families. The Maitland and Huxley wings are more simply furnished but comfortable. Because are a remote location, we offer a dinner, bed and breakfast package and now that we have more drop in casual cyclists, providing for the coffee fix and restaurant lunches is very much part of what we do. When we are full we can cater for around 200 guests and when that happens it’s all hands on deck and we embrace the challenge!”
How long have you owned and run the Lodge?
“Mike and I moved our family down here from Sumner, in Christchurch 31 years ago. We had 2 children but on making the decision to move here discovered that I was pregnant and our daughter Eily is the only child to have been born in the Ohau valley. Our kids have grown up here in this amazing environment, but have now spread their wings to all parts of the globe. During that time, we have faced many challenges and Covid-19 lockdown has been another. We maintained a bubble of 18 staff, many of them foreigners with nowhere to go so the building and the property has never been so tidy and there’s definitely been a lot of entertainment from them all! Now we have a lull between what was the end of the summer cycle season and the start of the ski season – which brings its own challenges, getting ready for winter.”
What has the Alps 2 Ocean trail meant for the Lodge?
“Tour groups, most of them from overseas have been the mainstay of our business in the summer. Over the years, this has grown to be significant and along with birthdays, family gatherings and weddings we have really enjoyed this – but there were always big gaps with 50-100 guests one night and 0 the next. That’s very hard to staff for. The growth of the A2O business in both group and independent riders has ‘flattened the peaks’ considerably and now, unfortunately, I know that Cycle Journeys struggles on some days to find space for their customers. Take note everyone, having customers with the flexibility to move by a day or so can make a huge difference on availability!”
What do you do over the winter season when the trail isn’t operating?
“Over the winter we operate the Ohau Snow Fields and this business has historically been the greater part of our annual revenue. We enjoy skier and snowboarder patronage which has steadily increased as we have upgraded the road, the lifts and the snow making and our reputation has grown. The Lodge and Snow Field have been here since the ‘50’s and that vibe is very much a part of our attraction. We think we are unique within the ski market offering a more personal approach that caters to families and those that want to get away from the bigger resort style but we also host the US ski team each year. They tell us we have the best training in the Southern Hemisphere, if not the world!! How good is that?! Our season finishes in early October and we are increasingly experiencing a shorter and shorter time to catch our breath before the next wave of lovely cyclists arrive on the door step. There is a similarity in the type of people who ski and ride and for us it is an absolute pleasure to host them all and they are what make the atmosphere at the lodge so special.”