$6000 a night to live like a Watson

By Anne Gibson

Millionaire British-based businessman Eric Watson is renting his rural south Auckland homestead, Westbury Estate, for $6000 a night.

But the Warriors owner's tariff is not a record.

Hiring the four-residence Eagles Nest at Russell in the Bay of Islands tops the luxury house market at around $12,000 a night, according to Tony Townley of Luxury Adventures which is promoting the properties. Sacred Space, First Light Temple, The Eyrie and Eagle Spirit are said to be the country's most opulent set of rental homes - and come with a warning that kids are unwelcome.

Over at Mr Watson's house near his Westbury Stud, a bedroom can be had for $2250 a night. But for $6000, the entire place, with its five bedrooms and five bathrooms, is yours.

Mr Townley said a string of high-profile guests had rented Westbury Estate since Luxury Adventures listed it about two years ago.

Mr Watson's 37ha pastoral property is touted as being in a "secure and secluded setting" with extensive leisure facilities including a nine-hole golf course, 15-metre heated pool, jacuzzi, sauna and two steam showers, floodlit tennis court, helicopter pad, billiard room, bar, study/library, theatre and television room, gymnasium and lake with gazebo and jetty, personal trainers, tennis coaches, a maid and riding instructors.

Luxury Adventures' international website is scanned by film stars, celebrities and the seriously rich for luxury accommodation.

Carol Benny, Harcourts' property management co-ordinator, said just a few kilometres north of Karaka, a three-bedroom Otara house could be rented for $300 to $310 a week.

Other opulent places on the website include Taupo's Huka Lodge, the choice of celebs from Bill Gates to Pink Floyd and the Queen. Wairarapa's Wharekauhau Lodge is also listed.

A stay at Kauri Cliffs, the Northland retreat and championship golf course at Matauri Bay owned by American billionaire Julian Robertson, starts at a mere $640 a night.

Corstorphine House, the 1863 historical Dunedin homestead where actor Gwyneth Paltrow stayed while making the movie Sylvia, is on the same website for $595 a night.

Blanket Bay at Queenstown costs $1290 a night.

Auckland's best hotels appear for the more budget-minded, towards the cheaper end of the price list. The Hyatt starts at $295, Ascott Metropolis from $259 and the waterfront Hilton Auckland from $295.

Most luxurious stays (price per night):

* Eric Watson's Westbury Estate, Auckland: $2250 for one bedroom, $6000 for house.

* Daniel and Sandie Biskind's four-house Eagles Nest, Russell, Bay of Islands: $900 to $12,000.

* American Tom Tusher's Blanket Bay, Queenstown: from $1290.

* Billionaire Julian Robertson's Kauri Cliffs, Northland: from $640.

* Wharekauhau Lodge, Palliser Bay, Wellington, owned by 26 global shareholders: from $795 to $5775.

* Alex van Heeren's Huka Lodge, Taupo: from $860. 

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