It was early evening in Wellington, New Zealand, at the tail end of winter, and the very creative visionary Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala was beaming over his new hotel launch. At the age of 35, he is one of the youngest hoteliers and a charming, creative genius overseeing Naumi Hotels, including locations in Wellington, Queenstown, and Auckland. All of his boutique hotels have a youthful following anxious to experience a unique, playful, artistic design, unlike any other hotel in the country.
Gaurang is more than the CEO of Naumi Hotels; he is a true tastemaker and has been instrumental in evolving the hotel group into a millennial favorite. He is a trailblazer in the boutique hotel space, creating properties that mix luxury and affordable travel.
The eclectic, colorful designs of each of their five hotels in NZ (one in Auckland, two in Queenstown, and two in Wellington) are overseen by Kiwi design firm Material Creative and the hotels are defined by their unique experiences connecting with local creatives. Gaurang plans steady growth for the hotel group by expanding in Europe and the UK.
“I want to make sure Naumi continue to deliver unique experiences to our guests as we expand in the Asia-Pacific region and look to put roots down in key cities that make sense for Naumi to be in” says Gaurang. “There are so many cool, interesting places where I would love to see Naumi, especially in Europe – Amsterdam, London, Manchester, Brussels for example. I am also looking at Dubai and Thailand as interesting markets. Up next is the opening of Naumi Sydney, which is undergoing a big refurbishment and getting ready for its launch later this year so guests can experience Naumi Hotels as they explore both New Zealand and Australia.”
The design of every Naumi hotel is built behind a story of the architectural and artistic concepts brought to life by modern and cutting-edge design visions. Each Naumi property offers a unique, definitive hospitality style. “I want every guest that steps into a Naumi Hotel to leave with a grin on their face because they’ve had an experience that has defied expectation, connected them to their location, and given them a reason to want to return,” says Gaurang.
With sustainability and social impact a prime focus of the company, Gaurang’s wife, Arshiya, heads up Naumi Humanity. Naumi’s goal is to help vulnerable and marginalized communities break away from poverty.
“What I get excited about is connecting our guests to Naumi’s sustainable experiences,” says Gaurang. “Naumi Hotel’s goal is to help break the cycle of poverty in marginalised communities. We work on issues of food insecurity, hoping to provide children with an equal chance to a better childhood, where they can focus on their education and an increased quality of life.”
“We have partnered with KidsCan in New Zealand to provide 125 hot meals daily to children in low decile schools in New Zealand, and have supported the nutrition of 100,000 children in India and have fed 13,000 children from food insecure backgrounds in Singapore,” he adds. “One of the projects we are rolling out at Naumi Wellington is our new lightweight bathrobe, made from waste sari offcuts by women in slum communities in India.”
Located in a prime spot in Wellington’s vibrant, gritty Cuba Street is where Naumi Wellington and Naumi Studio Wellington calls home. Naumi Studio Wellington is located in an iconic heritage landmark that was transformed into a 116-room property with the newly opened Naumi Wellington located next door.
Colors and wild design are evident throughout, including an Edwardian garden full of vibrant florals handcrafted by artists. A large-scale gold leaf floral backdrop wraps up onto the ceiling and is illuminated by floral sculptures. Curved bronzed brass reception counters, and colorful rugs, create a whimsical, cozy vibe while the energy bustles around you.
Fine dining includes Lola Rouge featuring Modern pan-Asian dishes from Award-winning Executive Chef Kiran Ghate. There is a fabulous all-red private dining room, which is a showstopper for more romantic endeavors.
Across the street from the hotel is the famous Michelin-starred Logan Brown, one of Wellington’s most iconic restaurants creating seasonal, innovative cuisine, working closely with local, passionate producers.
Daytime can be spent with a private guided tour of the nearby Te Papa, New Zealand’s most important museum, and enjoy the day learning about Māori culture. Afterward, enjoy an afternoon High Tea in The Parlour, merging old-world glamour with modern romance.
The Dairy Private Hotel completed its renovation during the pandemic lockdown. With an envious location in a historic building, the 15-room hotel is created with chic rustic glamour traditionally found in European ski chalets. Intimate rooms embrace a colorful interior with cozy living rooms.
The Central Private Hotel is an easy stroll to the shore of Lake Wakatipu, set against the majestic Southern Alps, and this boutique hotel has cozy, dark interiors and vibrant, colorful guestrooms.
Explore the area and try the extremely popular degustation lunch at Amisfield Winery, featuring creative dishes that represent the work of fishermen, hunters, gatherers, and farmers. Walk from the hotel into town and dine at The Bunker, one of Queenstown’s best-kept secrets since 1997 and one of its most iconic bars and restaurants.
Or try the celebrity favorite Botswana Butchery located in Queenstown’s historic Archer’s Cottage, one of the original settlers’ cottages, with spectacular lake views and signature roaring log fires inside and out. Late nights can be enjoyed at Bardeaux, famous for its big open fireplace in an intimate setting.
The unique Naumi Auckland Airport hotel is the perfect first stop upon arriving in the country. Filled with playful, unexpected, sexy, youthful designs, the hotel includes a bar, lounge, and restaurant areas, as well as vibrant suites.
Stay in the eclectic Ziggy Suite, which takes inspiration from fashion icon Missoni and its signature quilted knits in outrageous colors and patterns. The suite includes a large living room, king bedroom, neon pink bar, en-suite bathroom with an oversized stone bath, and a private covered balcony with a dining table overlooking the pool.
Most visitors to New Zealand arrive in Auckland first. Make sure to take a long walk to Karekare Beach and visit the waterfall for a picnic. This is where The Piano was filmed, and the perfect antidote to fighting jetlag.
The perfect time to visit New Zealand is during their summer, between December and the beginning of March. New Zealand is celebrated for its stunning beauty and with so many outdoor excursions to choose from, they are best experienced in good weather.
*Note: The record breaking rains and flooding in Auckland have not affected the Naumi Airport Hotel.