Five-course dinners served in front of a roaring fireplace, sheepskin rugs placed bedside at night, and freshly restored elegant period architecture are enough to make Otahuna Lodge, a Relais & Chateaux property just outside of Christchurch, New Zealand, the stuff of travel dreams. But for the horticulturally inclined, it’s what lies beyond the walls of the Queen Anne–style mansion that begs a trans-Pacific flight. The sprawling grounds of the estate, built in 1895 and overhauled in
Grand old buildings—particularly sturdy brick ones that outlived the industries that built them—are repurposed with some regularity. But find a late-19th-century water tower sitting on nearly four acres of open land and you have the ingredients for something truly exceptional. In Dordrecht, 15 miles southwest of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, that is just what Daan van der Have and his partners, Dorine de Vos and Hans Loos, created.
The lavish Udaivilas in northwestern India opened eight years ago, but it looks and feels as though it has stood along the banks of Lake Pichola for centuries. That’s the magic of this 30-acre resort in Udaipur, which was designed inside and out to resemble a palace in Mewar, one of the ancient kingdoms of India. Landscape architect Bill Bensley of Bensley Design Studios in Thailand researched traditional Mewari gardens to give visitors the royal treatment from the moment they arrive and are greeted by two stone elephants and pink-blooming Bauhinia trees.
By the time guests check into Hotel Modera, they’ve already checked out the boutique hotel’s unique courtyard garden. In what used to be the unsightly parking lot of a 1960s motor lodge, Jane Hansen of Lango Hansen Landscape Architects has conjured a chic contemporary oasis in downtown Portland. The focal point is a 64-foot-long, 12-foot-tall living wall planted with drip-irrigated panels of evergreen huckleberry, euonymus, variegated pachysandra, grasses and ferns that were intended as an abstraction of the varied colors and textures of the Pacific Northwest.
London-based landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd grew up in a 16th-century fortress north of Rome, where her family farmed, raised chickens and tended thousands of olive trees. But while the ancient site boasted breathtaking views of the countryside, it never really had a proper garden — until now. Over the past two decades, Lennox-Boyd has restored a portion of her childhood home and opened it up to visitors as Palazzo Parisi, an elegantly laid-back summer rental. Indoors, she redecorated most of the house, including seven bedrooms and six bathrooms, by mixing old and new.
In the countryside just south of Dublin, the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt is perfectly situated in perhaps the most spectacular heritage garden in Ireland. Hotel guests are welcome to stroll the 47 acres of Powerscourt Estate, which were developed over a span of 200 years by Sir Richard Wingfield and his descendants. The initial layout by architect Richard Castle took shape in the 1730s and was expanded by architect Daniel Robertson in the 1840s.