Swapping the busy streets of Sydney for the peaceful sunny vineyard-filled plains of Marlborough was a breeze and the rewards were many, including a massive drop in stress levels from the moment I arrived in this beautiful province.
I grabbed the 9.45am Sydney-Blenheim Friday connection on Air New Zealand - a Qantas codeshare, which got me into Wellington at 3pm NZ time. I had plenty of time to enjoy a coffee from the Fuel counter, shop at NZ-made Icebreaker who make great merino wear, then get on my flight to Blenheim. A short 25 minute flight over the stunning Marlborough Sounds - ancient sunken valleys featuring one-fifth of New Zealand's coastline and I was there by 6pm.
Arriving at Blenheim Airport, I was met by Toby, a friendly young man from The Marlborough Lodge. Within minutes we were driving the sunny lanes flanked by lush, grape-sprinked grapevines, and arriving at the beautiful Victorian Lodge nestled in amongst the vineyards and trees. A convivial drink with fellow Aussie General Manager Peter White in the Great Room later and I was encounced in my very stylish and comfortable Premium Suite with views over the 16 acre estate.
After a quick relax on my super comfy bed and a rejuvenating splash in the double tub in the palatial ensuite, it was off to pre-dinner drinks and canapes in the courtyard, in front of the roaring outdoor fireplace. Marlborough sauvignon blanc in hand with a platter of delicious Bluff oysters in the shell invitingly standing by, to say I was winding down was rather an understatement.
We were then summoned to the Dining Room for an endless and truly spiritual series of delicious courses served lodge-style and made up primarily of locally-sourced produce. Not only did chef Jason Brown make it taste heavenly, but it was almost too pretty to eat.
It was then back to the courtyard and fireplace, for a digestive port and some shared stories with the other guests, before trundling off for a peaceful night's rest.
The next day, fortified by a full breakfast again featuring great coffee and some delicious smoked mussels with scrambled eggs, I was off on a Marlborough Icons Tour - wine tasting by morning, waterfront lunch, and seafood cruise by afternoon. Beautiful bliss and a really great taste of the best that Marlborough has to offer.
A divine repeat of the night before with a longer bath and more fireside lingering, followed by another fab sleep and tasty breakfast. Then a relax about the estate until I headed off for my 11.25am Air New Zealand/Qantas flight back to Sydney, via Auckland this time for a different shopping experience. Home by 5.40pm Australia time - plenty of time to get myself organised for back to work Monday.
What a brilliant weekend!