Dazzling scenery viewed from a bathtub. Ben Leahy takes a romantic soak at Waiheke Island’s Omana Luxury Villa.
Location: Omana Luxury Villa brings together two worlds on Waiheke Island. It’s close enough to vineyard tastings, top-rated restaurants and sandy beaches to stay busy indulging your cravings, yet remote enough to press pause on time. Nestled atop a hill in one of the island’s quiet nooks, you’ll sip your evening wine surrounded by silence and glistening stars.
Style: Dressed to impress, but not in your face flashy. Omana’s four villas are individually styled, ranging from the Serenity villa’s warm golds to our Surrender villa’s cool pastels. Yet Waiheke’s landscape is the real belle of this ball. Its rolling hills and blue bays flood in through floor-to-ceiling glass, bestowing natural glamour.
Perfect for: Canoodlers and super soakers. Whether honeymooners flush with passion or long-term couples seeking a Valentines’ reconnect, Omana Luxury Villa seems a good choice to escape the daily bustle. And where better to start connecting than the tub. Omana’s bathtub deserves celebration. It is a VIP seat to gorgeous scenery – be it a shining-eyed partner inside the glass or Waiheke’s landscape outside. Long days tramping the island washed off us the minute we dipped in. We watched glinting sailboats glide by and birds flit between trees. And when the stars began to arc, grabbed glasses, cut the lights and chatted long about love, life and … OMG, where did that bubble come from? Beware: there is such a thing as being too relaxed!
First impressions: Subtle from the outside, Omana’s villa waited for us to pass through its oversized doors to make its bold statement. From our first step inside we loved the sweeping views over Woodside Bay. Mood music beckoned us deeper while complimentary bubbly sat on ice – a welcome prospect if, like us, you choose to cycle 12 hilly kilometres from Waiheke’s ferry terminal.
Rooms: If size matters, Omana should satisfy. Surrender villa stretches 58sq m. And if that’s still too small, you can don supplied slippers and dressing gown and move on to the villa’s 15sq m terrace. Surrender also includes a large walk-in wardrobe, kitchenette with one-button coffee, and in-room safe for that Valentine’s jewellery gift. The Wi-Fi is fast, while the TV beams ultra-high definition. The amorous and the Netflix and chill crowd should find suitable use for the super king-sized bed. Supplied beach towels and sunscreen allow you to stroll down a slippery native bush track to the beach below. Lighting can be easily controlled to illuminate every patch of the villa. And with acres of glass, a neat touch is being able to control each blind individually so you can block the sun but not the entire view. Yet for a simple soul like me, one of the most luxurious touches is being able to drink sparkling water on tap.
Bathroom: Have I mentioned the bathtub? Should you need further proof of its temperature-raising capabilities, then Omana Luxury Villa’s website shows British pop star Rita Ora lolling about in a tub of rose-coloured water. Yet the bathroom has even more tricks up its sleeve. After an airy shower under a lofty ceiling, I made the short pad over heated flooring to admire my scrawny form in the dual basin mirrors. There are boutique soaps and moisturisers and, ahem, ladies I know it’s not romantic, but what about the throne? Now that’s a toilet with a view.
Food and drink: Waiheke’s food and drink scene needs no introduction. Tantalus Estate and its sought-after six-course Trust the Chef Lunch is among the closest restaurants. Yummy woodfired pork and fennel pizzas are also relatively close by at new family diner The Heke. If you’ve got wheels, all Waiheke’s wineries and restaurants are close. But if you lack mobility, Omana Luxury Villa’s remote location means you’ll need to book a wine tour bus pick-up or long taxi ride. One of cycling’s benefits is the terrific appetite we worked up. From a scrumptious pastrami roll at The Island Grocer and smoked fish and roasted beetroot on crostino at Aperitivo to the divine salted caramel semifreddo at Onetangi beach’s Ki-Maha restaurant, we needed the hilly ride home to burn off excess calories. Omana’s team also deliver Continental breakfast each morning, featuring pain au chocolate, croissants and fresh juice and fruits. But if you plan to spend evenings back at the villa (and you should), you best do what we did and pack a doggy bag and nibbles.
Facilities: Should you have trouble getting started, Omana’s team offer help booking premium wine-tasting tours, bike tours, snorkelling trips and gin tastings. Rooms come with a maid service, parking and electric vehicle charging.
In the neighbourhood: While all Waiheke is your oyster, Omana is just past Whakanewha Regional Park, the island’s biggest reserve. The native bush here sings with the sound of birds, while the sheltered beaches are lovely for swimming and the park even contains a pā site.
Accessibility: Omana Luxury Villa has one fully accessible villa.
Sustainability: Architect Pete Bossley, a leading designer of Te Papa national museum, designed the villas using environmentally certified products. The owners have also been replanting natives in land around the villas.
Contact: Omana Luxury Villa, 379D Gordons Road, Waiheke, ph 021 0297 4214, omanaluxuryvilla.com