Shandelle Battersby checks into the Heritage Collection Marlborough Vintners Hotel, Blenheim.
We took the shortest plane flight I've ever experienced across from Wellington to Blenheim (about 15 minutes in the air), rented a car at Marlborough Airport and could have been lounging about in our suite within 10 minutes if we hadn't stopped on the way at the excellent Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre to see Dangerous Skies, its new World War II exhibition .
Check-in experience: We were welcomed by manager Travis, who gave us lots of information about the area, then we drove down to the back of the property to our self-contained one-bedroom suite. There are just 16 suites spread about the 2.4ha of lovely grounds.
Room: A Vineyard View Suite, which was sunny and warm on what was a beautiful but chilly winter's day. It had a spacious lounge, deck area, large bathroom with a shower only, and underfloor heating, kitchenette with microwave, tea and coffee-making facilities, small mini bar, sound system, Sky TV, patio area and a dining table.
Price: We were sampling the Degustation Package (from $580 for two) for one night's accommodation in a Vineyard View Suite with bubbles on arrival, a five-course degustation dinner from locally sourced ingredients matched with local wines, and a gourmet continental breakfast. If you're not partaking in a package, rooms start at $170.
Make the most of: The bikes available to rent for $25 for half a day, $40 for a full day, so you can explore the Golden Mile wine trail and beyond. Start off at The Vines Village, the artisan hub across the road from Vintners' (accessible via a tunnel that goes under Rapaura Rd) and then make your way to one or several of the area's many cellar doors. If you prefer beer, start with a tasting of the cycling-themed Golden Mile beer at The Vines Village Cafe. Then head up to the beer garden at Moa Brewing Company and pair your craft brew with a burger or pulled pork po' boy from Sandy's, the converted Land Cruiser food truck at weekends.
Toiletries: Heritage Hotels' own brand.
Food and drink: The hotel has a fantastic new chef, French-born and classically trained Arnaud Mallet. As well as working in fine restaurants in his homeland, he has also worked in the Caribbean and recently in Melbourne. His degustation dinner, in the cosy Vintners Room Restaurant in the main lodge, was superb. Think smoked venison, pickles, parsnip crisp and horseradish popping with flavour against a Saint Clair merlot, and seared Albacore tuna with butternut puree and puffed rice topped with rougail, a Mauritian tomato dish heavy with ginger, lime, onion and chili, paired with a Forrest Estate sauvignon blanc.
The bed: My sister and and I had twin singles.
The view: Gorgeous views of the vines and out to the snowy mountains beyond.
Noise: Very peaceful indeed.
Free Wi-Fi: Yes, unlimited.
Facilities: There is a small gym but I recommend getting out on one of the bikes — the roads are flat and cycling to a winery or brewery means you'll have earned your tasting once you arrive. When you get back, jump in the onsite spa, or some of the rooms have outdoor bathtubs.
Perfect for: Weekend getaways exploring the beautiful Marlborough region and indulging in its delights.