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Enticing tourism with luxury car

Until early March, Felix Borenstein, the owner-manager of South Island luxury fly fishing retreat Owen River Lodge, was quietly confident that 2020-21 would be another bumper season.

With back-to-back wins at the New Zealand Tourism Awards and a whopping 50 per cent return booking rate, his confidence seemed well-placed.

Then the coronavirus struck. Like many other operators catering to an affluent overseas market, Felix watched as his bookings, and his business, tanked.

When the borders remaining closed month after month, Felix realised he’d have to look closer to home if he wanted his lodge to survive. This would be a challenge; although Owen River Lodge enjoyed an international reputation for providing a world-class visitor experience, it was virtually unknown in New Zealand.

“I had to think outside the box,” he says. “There are a lot of other operators in the same situation all competing for the same guests and the big drawcards for an overseas market, like our natural landscapes, don’t necessarily have the same pulling power at home — most Kiwis have seen their own country.

“So I tried to come up with something different and that’s when I hit on the idea of offering a Porsche for a day.”

Felix’s Porsche Boxster S is available for a day’s touring as part of a three-night, all-inclusive package.

“The Boxster is one of those iconic luxury sports cars,” he says. “It was featured in the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and in the TV show, Billions.

“It’s just a beautiful ride and I’d really love to share it with our Kiwi guests in the coming season.”

Felix says he’s definitely up to the challenge of attracting a new market to his lodge and will continue to find innovative ways to introduce his award-winning, luxury visitor experience to discerning Kiwis.

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