Villa investment cements Plume brand in Matakana

The design of 12 modern visitor accommodation villas in Sharp Road, Matakana, has been heavily influenced by their rural surroundings.

Plume Villas, owned by Clyde and Farida Cooper, are due to officially open on July 11.

The complex can cater for up to 50 guests, with one, two and three-bedroom options. There is a helipad and pool on site, and future plans include a petanque court and walkway to the nearby Glen Eden River.

Clyde and Farida felt it was important to design the villas in a style that suited the landscape and was in keeping with the rural setting.

“We’re great fans of Matakana and if we do things to bring more people here, then everyone benefits,” they say.

Since purchasing the Runner Duck vineyard in June 2008, the couple has invested heavily in the area.

The Heron’s Flight Restaurant became Plume in 2010 and the tearooms in Matakana became the cafe in 2012. There were plans to develop a restaurant alongside the cafe, but the villas seemed like a more logical next step.

“Plume is already a dining destination, but to grow the conference and wedding market, we needed accommodation of a certain standard,” Clyde says.

The interior design is stylish and modern.

Gardens throughout the complex will eventually give each villa privacy, as well as enhancing the rural aspect.

“Ideally, we would have built to accommodate 70 to 80 guests on the 7.8 hectare site, but there were council limitations, particularly around stormwater and wastewater disposal.”

Project architect, Chris Bassett, of Designpoint Architecture based in Snells Beach, has had a long-standing relationship with Plume, and his partner, Brigid Maire, did the interior design and landscaping.

Chris says configuring the site within the limitations was a challenge. A lot of attention was given to moving vehicles unobtrusively around the site and to diminishing the scale of the paved areas.

There’s an understated elegance to the villa interiors, with similar finishes, furnishing and colour schemes, but the subtle differences in materials make each villa feel unique. Extensive landscaping throughout the site will eventually deliver privacy, as well as bringing a country feel to the doorstep.

“We’ve gone for quality rather than luxury,” Clyde says. “We felt it was important to keep the country feel and make it a boutique experience. Like the rest of Plume, the villas aren’t ostentatious, but they are pretty up there.”

The couple started planning the complex in 2015 and when it came time to build, one of the first challenges was finding a local builder who was available and could meet the budget.

“We use local tradesmen, local services and local products wherever possible so we approached a number of local firms, but they were all too busy.”

Eventually, they went with a Cambridge company that built the villas off-site and delivered them in stages over 12 months.

“It’s certainly been an interesting experience dealing with two main contractors – one doing the build and the other all the earthworks, but it has come together quite satisfactorily
in the end.”

Clyde and Farida have undertaken a nationwide marketing campaign, across both print media and online, to spread the word about the villas. The promotions target women, who are seen as the holiday, corporate event and dining decision-makers, both at home and at work.

Winter is always the challenge for local tourism operators, so Clyde and Farida hope the conferences will smooth out the seasonal highs and lows, and are pleased that event and accommodation bookings have already started.

Warkworth Lodge owner and Matakana Coast Tourism member Liz Bays has welcomed the opening of the villas as a boost for tourism in the area.

“The need for more accommodation options in the area can’t be over-stated,” she says. “Most local accommodation providers are full throughout summer and I spend a lot of time on the phone trying to find rooms for people. Often they have to keep going north to Whangarei. I’ve even loaned people bedding on occasions, so they could take a cabin at Pakiri.

“We get a lot of the overflow from Auckland and even the so-called off-season is still a lot busier than it used to be. Some of it’s to do with the motorway, but also the amount of building going on – Warkworth is pumping.”

An Auckland Tourism spokesperson says they regularly send media to Mahurangi and often have difficulty finding accommodation, limiting the time the media teams can spend in the region.