New owners at Waipoua Lodge

New owners at Waipoua Lodge

New Owners

All good things must come to an end, but in the case of Waipoua Lodge, the next chapter truly promises to be just as good a story as Ian & Fran have written over the past six and a half years!

Their news:

We are absolutely delighted to now share with you that Phil, Lily & Grace Berge will become the new owners and hosts of this wonderful historic homestead, Waipoua Lodge, on 1st September.

Please find attached a message from Phil, Lily & Grace which they have asked us to share with you. They are the absolute perfect trio to continue growing the business success. Phil will provide a great front of house personality, Lily is a very good cook and daughter Grace will pick up the administration and marketing roles! We could not have asked for more perfect succession planning.

However, you can be forgiven if the news of us selling has come as rather a surprise, but we can now openly share with everyone the reason why we are leaving our successful Waipoua Lodge at this point in time.

Known by only a few, in September 2013, Fran had a very severe virus which attacked her sinuses and left her with a condition called Anosmia. This means that at best she has no sense of smell or taste, but most of the time she has bad experiences with different foods and smells. You may be amazed at this news when you consider all the rave reviews Fran’s cuisine has, and continues to, received!

The past four years have obviously been very challenging for both of us. Fran in the early years suffered anxiety and depression but gradually with Ian’s support has learnt to live with the condition and has developed coping strategies. The significant growth in business success and occupancy has however proved very challenging for both of us.

We obviously have very mixed feelings about leaving this amazing place which has given us the most wonderful guest experiences, allowed us to become involved in a great industry and of course provided us with some incredible and significant personal achievements. We are fully committed to supporting Phil, Lily and Grace as they take over Waipoua Lodge and will be doing everything possible to ensure it is a seamless transition with as much ongoing support as they need.

So what next for us?
We have a few ideas up our sleeves and one of them might involve hospitality, but this will not be in accommodation or creating elaborate cuisine!

There is also definitely a book in the pipeline about our time at Waipoua Lodge and most probably entitled ‘The Senseless Chef’! 

We look forward to sharing more news with everyone as our plans unfold.

In the meantime we would like to express our thanks to our staff, suppliers and everyone with whom we have worked, or simply met during our time at Waipoua Lodge. Thank you for supporting us – it has been a truly memorable experience and one which we will always remember.

About the new owners:

Phil and Lily met at high school and married in 1982 in Whitianga. Phil became a butcher and went on to purchase his father’s butchers shop which they ran for four years before in 1986 they decided to purchase the Waingaro Hot Springs Hotel. With four young children they enjoyed running this lovely, busy country hotel with two bars, a bistro and accommodation, all with a great family atmosphere.

In 1990 they decided to give dairy farming a try. Lily comes from a farming background and felt it would be the perfect place to raise the children. Over several years, four moves and two more children, Phil and Lily finally settled in South Waikato for 20 years on a 300 hectare dairy farm. In addition to the six children, Phil & Lily are now also proud grandparents to 13 grandchildren – in total a very close family who have all been very successful in achieving their goals through life.

Grace their 5th child is 22 years old and is going to be part of this exciting new Waipoua Lodge venture. She studied at George Seymour in 2014 and then spent 6 months on an internship in Florida working at Disneyworld. She returned and has continued in the hospitality industry gaining valuable skills over the past 3 years working at the Millennium in Taupo and more recently at the Holiday Inn in Rotorua as an events/conference co-ordinator.

Both Phil and Lily enjoyed the hospitality industry and always considered running another business where the focus would be dealing with people in a more relaxed, peaceful and private environment, away from the hustle/bustle of life, providing guests with a great place to relax, unwind, enjoy and be spoiled. They are committed to the Waipoua Lodge philosophy of ‘creating a memorable guest experience’.

Easy going, happy, friendly people, they all enjoy lots of hobbies including music, reading, art, fishing, walking and in particular sports with Phil having been a rugby referee for 15 years. Lily loves gardening and is also a very good cook so is excited about enjoying this aspect of Waipoua Lodge’s success. Whilst Phil and Grace also keen to get involved in the grounds and cooking, Phil’s focus will be on front of house and Grace will lead the administrative and marketing side of the business. The perfect trio to take Waipoua Lodge to even greater heights!

Phil, Lily and Grace say they are all looking forward to this exciting new venture and in particular moving to the sunny, warm, Northland area. The location excites them and they feel blessed to have the beautiful ancient Waipoua Forest on their doorstep and the opportunity as owners to write the next chapter of this truly spectacular and wonderful, historic Waipoua Lodge.


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