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Interview with David Hiatt of Lookout Point

David HiattDavid Hiatt is Managing Director of boutique New Zealand luxury travel agency, Lookout Point.  His background is in services marketing and  he has worked extensively throughout New Zealand and the world. Lookout Point was established to provide outstanding tailored holidays through New Zealand that allow visitors to experience the very best of  our scenery, personal service and comfort, with their unique needs always in mind. What is it that  you do exactly?
Each and every day is different which is fantastic, however typically we spend time designing new itineraries for future visitors to New Zealand, as well as managing the daily arrangements of our clients that are currently in New Zealand. Sometimes this will be simple, but more often than not it will involve really going the extra mile behind the scenes to make things happen seamlessly, but always it will be varied, challenging and a lot of fun. Our clients are typically well travelled, intelligent and relatively independent. They like the idea of dealing direct with an agent in their intended destination and having their travel plans tailored, without too many links in the chain.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
There are two things I love about what we do. Primarily, my satisfaction comes from knowing that our clients have been able to visit New Zealand, most of them for the first time, and we have been able to provide an overall experience that they have completely and utterly loved. Having clients in tears (of joy, I promise) prior to their departure from New Zealand is a humbling and rewarding experience. Ensuring we consistently exceed our clients’ expectations means that we will potentially have more and more roving ambassadors promoting New Zealand which is a great result. The other main source of enjoyment comes from waking up each morning and knowing that today will be completely different from any other day.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
1. On the lakefront at Minaret Bay, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand – this destination won’t be in any of the world’s luxury travel magazines, but in my mind is one of the most spectacular places to stay in the world. We camp at Minaret Bay every year and its location, surrounded by towering peaks and a beautiful lake is refreshing. The best part of this location is there is no access by road so you must either helicopter in or take a private boat so we are almost guaranteed to have the place to ourselves! 2. Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada – my wife and I stayed here one Christmas whilst we were living and working in Canada. We became engaged on Christmas Eve after skiing all day at Lake Louise which made for a special time in itself. The service, suites and views at the Fairmont were mind-blowing and the Canadian Rockies remains one of our absolute favourite destinations. 3. Azur, Queenstown, New Zealand – this is a fantastic property just minutes from central Queenstown that we have been recommending to our clients recently. My wife and I stayed here during the past New Zealand winter and we found it to be extremely comfortable and stylish, with a relaxed yet very professional service. Azur has eight stand-alone villas which are 75sq metres and have exceptional bathrooms. The real highlight though is the uninterrupted views across Lake Wakatipu to the Remarkables mountain range. Take a bath and open the windows to surely one of the world’s finest outlooks. As you might have picked up… lakes and alpine scenery is a common theme amongst my ultimate detainations!
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
Summer in New Zealand means barbeques and when we camp at Minaret Bay this means barbeques the way they should be done! Pig on a spit, whole lamb wired across the bonfire and venison on the hot plate! As far as more refined dining experiences, once in New York we walked into Orso on 46th Street without knowing anything about it or without a reservation. The maitre de found us the only spare seats in this lovely Italian inspired restaurant and I will forever have mouth wateringly fond memories of the most perfectly cooked chicken breast in the world. So simple but so memorable.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
We try and treat all of our clients like the most important people in the world, in a down to earth, Kiwi kind of way regardless of who they are. In saying that the majority of our clients are comfortably wealthy rather than extraordinarily famous. When you travel a lot you seem to bump into people in airports who you think you might recognise but as I am not a big reader of celebrity magazines and tabloids I am often oblivious to whom they actually were! With New Zealand being relatively small if there are people in town, word gets around pretty quick. I literally bumped into 2005 US Open winner Michael Campbell in Wellington Airport just this past week.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wishlist?
The next two places I would love to visit are poles apart. The first one is Whare Kea Chalet, high in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island. This chalet is on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park and because of its extremely remote location you must have a guide accompany you and stay the night there also. You must book this property exclusively and access is obviously only by helicopter, but an alpine walk in this environment with no one for miles, followed by a glass of Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir would be a truly memorable experience. If we get time for some R & R over the winter I would love to head up to the Bora Bora Lagoon Resort in French Polynesia but then wouldn’t we all!
Thanks, David. Minaret Bay sounds truly magical!

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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One Comment

  1. New Zealand is a faveourite destination of mine and I love around Lake Wanaka but haven’t been to Minaret Bay – this will definitely be a stop on my next trip.

    I have to agree with David the Fairmont Banff Springs is a spectacular hotel – the service, location and views are excellent with so many restaurants to choose from and the hotel itself is a beautiful building. Its an area of Canada that is so worth exploring.

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