Our History

Welcome to Eichardt’s Private Hotel - an exceptional luxury experience and journey into the city’s history.

Eichardt's History

Our story begins before Queenstown was a city, when the landscape was vacant of marked streets and buildings. A man, originally from Pembrokeshire in Wales, sailed past the Remarkables mountain range along New Zealand’s longest lake, arriving on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in search of land for farming. His journey and the discovery of gold in the region would prove to be instrumental in our establishment, cementing Eichardt’s Private Hotel in the history of this city. 

In 1859, William Gilbert Rees arrived in Queenstown, surveying the area for pastoral land suitable for sheep farming. Accompanied by fellow explorer Nicholas Von Tunzelmann, Rees was the first European to settle the area and over the coming years, he would become an integral figure in the town’s development and a name that would have a lasting legacy in Queenstown. 

Rees officially settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in 1860-61, establishing a homestead on Run 356 and erecting the first building in the town – a humble woolshed. Where the woolshed once stood is today the site of our main building. Rees’ intentions to farm sheep by the lake were shortlived. 

“So much of the local history has taken place in this spot. The cavalcade of colourful characters which have come and gone have congregated at Eichardt’s. They have all contributed some part to the history and should not be forgotten.”

A.M. Miller, Queenstown District Historical Society President, 1975.

In November 1862, gold was discovered in the nearby Shotover River and Rees found himself called forth from farming duties and thrown into the midst of a gold rush. Prospectors, miners and opportunists began to descend on Queenstown, and Rees’ homestead run was soon declared an official goldfield from which the main business area would develop. 

An entrepreneurial spirit quickly arose from Rees and within the first few weeks of the rush, he turned to hotel-keeping. As soon as the shearing was over, the woolshed was converted into a hotel and given a wooden facade. An establishment for the purposes of accommodation and service emerged and Rees was soon joined in partnership by Sergeant-Major Hugh William Bracken. At this time, the hotel was named the Queen’s Arms and was one of seventeen licensed and unlicensed hotels in the area during the height of the goldrush.

Over the next three years, the hotel would continue to grow in prominence, becoming a first-class establishment in the town. In 1866, Rees entered into partnership with Albert Eichardt, who became the proprietor of the hotel during the same year. In 1867, Eichardt and C.C. Boyes bought the hotel outright and in 1868, Albert Eichardt married Julia Shanahan, the former proprietress of the hotel and dining room manager. By the following year, Eichardt would become the sole proprietor of the hotel, which was renamed Eichardt’s Queen’s Arms Hotel and later known simply as Eichardt’s Private Hotel. As the gold glint faded and Queenstown shifted from a mining settlement to a town with more permanence, the hotel began to cater to a new kind of patronage – tourists. 

These were developmental years for Eichardt’s, encouraged by the fortitude of several individuals. Though Albert Eichardt was instrumental in the progression of the hotel, his wife Julia Eichardt would prove to be just as integral to the establishment and an admirable Queenstown figure, even to this day. After Albert’s sudden death in 1882, Julia took over operations of the hotel, remaining there from 1863 until her untimely death, aged 54, in 1892. Julia was well-liked for her general disposition and kindly manner, and renowned for assisting the poor and needy in the district. Of her many achievements through her time spent at Eichardt’s, one was bringing electricity to the hotel, making it the first building to have electricity in Queenstown.

The degree of reverence she commanded was reflected at her funeral; the town closed during the afternoon as a mark of respect and the funeral cortege consisted of some 400 mourners, with another 100 gathering at the cemetery. Even to this day, Julia Eichardt is remembered as a successful businesswoman, with a generous, compassionate and strong disposition. Her invaluable contributions to Eichardt’s and legacy in the city are honoured by the hotel today through our female led management team. These women embody Julia’s spirit, providing a genuine service to guests and commitment to upholding the hotel’s reputation as a first-class establishment.

Eichardt’s today

In 2016, the site next to the hotel’s main building, which originally housed the Eichardt’s stable, was excavated as part of an expansion project. A trove of archaeological items were retrieved from the site and a striking new building was constructed to include Eichardt’s newest accommodation suites, two Lake View Suites and The Penthouse, Queenstown’s premier dining destination The Grille by Eichardt’s, as well as luxury shopping brands.

From a woolshed on the shores of Lake Wakatipu to contemporary, luxury accommodation, Eichardt’s Private Hotel encapsulates the origins of Queenstown, celebrating its progression from quiet beauty into booming prosperity. Now focused on accommodating discerning travellers from around the globe, it is the continued preservation of our history that places Eichardt’s as a significant local landmark, one that is listed as a Category 2 historic place by Heritage New Zealand.

Eichardt’s is part of a leading collection of luxury accommodation in New Zealand and the most awarded private hotel in the country. 

Imperium acquired Eichardt’s Private Hotel in December 2010, making it the first New Zealand based investment for Imperium Group. Eichardt’s Private Hotel is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Luxury Lodges of New Zealand. 

Our Team

james-cavanagh-general-manager
James Cavanagh
General Manager

Originally from Auckland, James has overseen all departments and aspects of operations at Eichardt’s Private Hotel for the last seven years. The stunning location and opportunity to lead one of New Zealand’s most iconic operations first drew James to the role, and he is proud to continue leading an exceptional team and providing one of the country’s best hotel experiences.

James Worthington
General Manager Food & Beverage

Also hailing from Auckland, James Worthington is behind Eichardt’s Private Hotel’s outstanding food and beverage service, bringing over 25 years of industry experience to his current position as Food & Beverage General Manager. James previously held management and operations roles in Melbourne and Dubai before deciding to return to home ground, drawn to Eichardt’s Private Hotel for its location, luxury reputation and the opportunity to work with a renowned team.

Will Eaglesfield
Executive Chef

London-born chef Will Eaglesfield started his career working winters in France and summers in Greece and Turkey. Classical French and Mediterranean influences are still a cornerstone of his dishes, but since moving to Queenstown in 2006, his main inspiration has become the local produce. Our Executive Chef is a big believer in “terroir”, the unique flavour that comes from the region’s climate and conditions. With pristine high-country farmland, native bush and Central Otago wine country on his doorstep, Will has plenty of material to work with when creating dishes.

Sian Thomas
Executive Assistant Manager

Another integral international, Sian originally hails from the United Kingdom and is the Executive Assistant Manager for Eichardt’s Private Hotel. Sian was first introduced to Eichardt’s during her years as a travel agent. Already aware of the hotel’s luxurious reputation, she describes working at such a prestigious and iconic establishment as an incredible opportunity. Apart from its luxury, she also loves Eichardt’s individuality and the subtle nods to the history that has shaped the hotel today.

Jamie Mantin
Sales & Marketing Manager

Growing up in North Carolina, Jamie moved to Mississippi to study before finding work in Colorado. Originally only planning a short break, Jamie arrived in New Zealand and fell in love, and after landing her role at Imperium, decided to stay and call Queenstown home. Jamie appreciates Eichardt’s rich history and amazing stories, and when she isn’t actively promoting the hotels, you’ll find her hiking or on the slopes.

Lauren Fraser
Events Manager

Lauren is one of the company’s longest serving team members, having worked for Eichardt’s Private Hotel for nearly ten years. Hailing from St Andrews in Scotland, Lauren has 18 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, including helping grow and open new restaurants. She’s worked her way up the company’s ladder, from bartender to breakfast supervisor, to Duty and Restaurant Manager, all the way to her Events Management position now. Lauren believes the view from Eichardt’s where she organises most events is hard to beat.

Jade Ryan
Office Manager

Not everyone can say they work where they do today because of the company’s uniforms, but our Office Manager Jade can. Originally from North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, before Jade worked here, she held the staff’s immaculate presentation in high esteem. Now a part of the team, her favourite things about Queenstown are that she can drive an hour or two and find a new camping spot every weekend, packing up a picnic and taking a walk, or just enjoying the breathtaking scenery from wherever she is in the city.

Chikako Nagata
Night Manager

From Japan to Queenstown, Chikako has spent the last four years keeping watch over Eichardt’s Private Hotel during the evening hours. Her time spent with the company has seen her role and responsibilities expand over the years, which alongside the night operation of Eichardt’s Private Hotel, now includes the books for the hotel and their restaurants. Initially attracted to the luxury aspect of the establishment, Chikako has grown to love the fun working environment and appreciates the Queenstown lifestyle, loving the abundance of outdoor activities available year-round.

Ana Cesarin
Executive Housekeeping Manager

Originally from Brazil, Ana is responsible for upholding Eichardt’s immaculate appearance and overseeing the housekeeping team. She’s been a part of the team for nearly four years and was Eichardt’s Employee of the Year in 2018. Ana enjoys all aspects of her role, from managing the housekeeping team to ensuring the smooth daily operation of her department. When she’s not at Eichardt’s, she loves to take in the scenery with a little extra adrenalin, describing skydiving and paragliding as two of her favourite experiences since living here.

Tarcisio Girio
Maintenance Manager

Like any building, fixtures and appliances occasionally have a mind of their own, and when they do, Tarcisio has the solution. Our Maintenance Manager for the past two years, Tarcisio ensures the safety and functionality of our hotels, having worked his way from landscaper, houseman and electrical engineer, into his current management role. Initially attracted to Eichardt’s for the company’s reputation and values, he describes the daily challenges and his ability to problem solve as reasons why he loves his job here.

Shaun White
Assistant Food and Beverage Manager

Assisting James in the food and beverage management is Shaun, from Derry, Ireland. He’s been a part of the team for nearly four years in several roles, a reflection of his broad hospitality and management experience. Shaun appreciates many things about his role, including the opportunity to converse with a wide variety of guests on a daily basis. Passionate about the region’s renowned pinot noirs and aromatic white varietals, Shaun encourages guests to get involved in the wine scene and visit the local vineyards and wineries.

Danielle Ward
Assistant Bar Manager (Eichardt’s Bar)

From Nottingham to Queenstown, Assistant Bar Manager Danielle Ward has had an interesting career. She’s previously managed venues and held positions on the Complaints Resolution Team and as a Human Resources Assistant for busy restaurants. She also scored first-class honours in Criminology and Psychology and holds a Masters in Forensic Criminology. Aside from a great wine list and cocktail menu, Danielle enjoys the amazing people she works alongside at Eichardt’s, the hotel decor and meeting international guests. She loves Queenstown for its four-season offerings, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking and camping.

Benjamin Missere
Head Concierge

Benjamin heads the concierge team at Eichardt’s Private Hotel and is proud to lead an exceptional group of staff to deliver guests the best possible experience during their stay. Born in Switzerland, Benjamin grew up in the United Kingdom and France, citing the hotel’s reputation and location as his reason for settling in Queenstown. When he’s not greeting guests at Eichardt’s, Benjamin loves to get outdoors and suggests a visit to the vineyards in Gibbston Valley.

Laura Jackson
Front Office Assistant Manager

Also from the United Kingdom, Laura has been on the guest services team for the last three years. Growing up in Newcastle and graduating university with a First-Class Honours Degree in Media, Laura decided to spread her international wings and landed her role at The Spire Hotel through word of mouth. A Queenstown local for some years now, her top recommendation for guests is a trip to Milford Sound to see for themselves why it is called the unofficial Eighth Wonder of the World.

Marty Muller
Driver

Marty is the man behind the wheel, our chief hotel driver. He’s been an essential part of our transportation team for over three years, driving, guiding and offering bespoke tours to guests. Marty is of the opinion Eichardt’s has the best location in town and the most interesting and unique history. As a resident of Queenstown for nearly ten years, he loves the city’s cosmopolitan vibe, outdoor environment and ability to be in remote wilderness within a 20-minute drive.

If you are interested in joining our exceptional team, please send your resume and cover letter to recruitment@eichardts.com. You can also find more information about our current vacancies by visiting our Employment page.

OUR INITIATIVE

Committed to sustainability and conservation 

Our residence in Queenstown is a lasting legacy, a testament to the times from which we grew and flourished. As a company at the forefront of contemporary luxury and with a privileged position in the city, surrounded by incredible, natural beauty, we are committed to ensuring sustainable practices throughout our operations. Both Eichardt’s Private Hotel and Pacific Jemm by Eichardt’s hold Qualmark Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Awards from New Zealand Tourism’s official quality assurance organisation. 

These awards recognise our dedication to sustainable tourism business while delivering exceptional customer experiences. The Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award also identifies us as a leader in making the New Zealand tourism industry a world-class sustainable visitor destination. 

We are committed to ensuring sustainability and conservation is at the forefront of our practices, with particular consideration given to the positive contribution we can make to Queenstown’s incredible environment. All produce used at our restaurants is locally sourced to help reduce our carbon footprint, including Cardrona Merino, Te Mana Lamb and pork belly from Havoc Pork Farm. Our team regularly forage for watercress, elderflowers, elderberries, walnuts and chestnuts in the Otago region and a large portion of our vegetables come from local farmers. We have also implemented a range of recycling systems to reduce our waste impact and employ reusable measures wherever possible throughout our businesses.  

The hotel’s operations are also reflective of our commitment to sustainability and conservation; we use energy-saving LED bulbs, environmentally friendly cleaning products and showers fitted with water-efficient heads that use 28% less water. Eichardt’s also proudly supports local conservation trusts, including annual donations to the Copper Island Restoration Project and volunteering for clearing projects with Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG), an organisation that controls an introduced tree threatening our native beech forests and tussock. 

As a collective company, we will continue to positively contribute to the sustainability and conservation of Queenstown and New Zealand, searching for new and innovative ways to preserve this incredible place we’ve called home for nearly 150 years. 

Quality and innovation for our food and beverage services

Innovation is integral to the food and beverage services across Eichardt’s Private Hotel and we strive to offer our guests an incredible experience featuring regional flavours and unique combinations.

Led by Executive Chef Will Eaglesfield, The Grille menu showcases the best flavours and locally sourced produce depending on the season. Taking a typical Queenstown approach, the food is meat-focused, with a special ‘Unusual Cut’s of the Day’ to cater for those with an extra appreciation for that kind of fare. Eaglesfield’s understanding and appreciation of the flavours found in this region are reflected in our set menu and wine match. Tried and tested, this provides guests with a holistic dining experience that captures the essence of Queenstown and Central Otago.

Our team will continue to experiment and incorporate the region’s unique flavours to deliver guests an unforgettable experience that extends from the hotel’s accommodation. Under the direction of our Food and Beverage Manager James Worthington, we set our own benchmark of excellence and are constantly assessing our menus and offerings to find ways to improve and innovate.