Browns Ski Shop, which last year celebrated 30 years in the snow industry, is this month opening a full ski retail, clothing and snow rental store in the brand new Kawarau Village on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
The new store sits alongside the newly-opened Hilton Queenstown and Kawarau Hotels, and as well as servicing the needs of locals heading to nearby ski areas, offers the ultimate room service for guests staying at either hotel.
"Guests can turn up without any snow gear whatsoever and we can kit them out from head to foot," said Browns co-owner Kris Vermeir.
"All they have to do is pick up the phone in their room, let us know what they need, and we'll have a selection of gear waiting for them to try on by the time they come through the door."
The new 120sqm store is just a few paces from the entrance to the Kawarau Hotel. It features a stunning recycled timber floor and an internal stone schist wall, reflecting a relaxed Central Otago style.
As well as offering a full range of rental gear, the retail side of the shop will offer the very best of everything, including labels such as Degre 7, Killy, Phenix, Descente, SOS, Kjus and Poivre Blanc.
"What we will offer in the Kawarau Village store will be exactly the same as in our central Queenstown retail and rental stores," said Mr Vermeir.
Browns also operates a retail and rental store in Newmarket, Auckland, and Mr Vermeir said Browns customers would be able to go into the store there, get fitted for equipment before coming on a winter holiday, and pick it up on arrival in Queenstown or at the Kawarau Village.
Once equipment has been correctly fitted, it's recorded on the rental computer system in both Auckland and Queenstown, so repeat customers can order the same gear from one season to the next.
"We will also have full tuning services at the Kawarau Village for guests or locals, which is a great service to be able to offer as it means no trips into central Queenstown to get skis and boards waxed or tuned," he said.
Over winter the store will offer bike tuning services for the many keen bikers who use the nearby Kelvin Heights track, the first time Browns ‘sister' store Vertigo Bikes has operated over winter.
In summer, the Vertigo Bikes will ‘take over' the Kawarau Village store, offering a full range of rental bikes and gear so hotel guests can take advantage of the full range of biking tracks right on the Hilton's doorstep.
"Again, it means guests can arrive here with little more than their clothing, and we can kit them out with everything they need to get out into our stunning countryside.
"Within a 10-km radius of the Kawarau Village there are tracks suitable for everyone from beginners and children to some pretty gnarly alpine adventures.
"Over summer we offer fully-guided adventures for those who'd like to get out into the backcountry with a professional and knowledgeable guide taking them to places not many locals would know about."
Mr Vermeir said opening the new store represented a "significant investment" for the company, especially at a time when many retailers were experiencing a downturn in activity.
"However the opportunity to establish ourselves in this unique location was one we felt we could not pass up," he said.
About Browns Ski Shop:
Browns is a specialist ski shop handling equipment sales, ski and snowboard rental, servicing and boot fitting. It is considered a market leader in Australasia, being at the forefront of leading edge technology both in systems and in service.
About Vertigo Bikes:
Vertigo Bikes is an adventure bike tour company taking riders of all abilities and ages into some of New Zealand's most scenic and iconic locations. It has the biggest rental fleet of bikes in Queenstown.
The company was recently endorsed as a Qualmark visitor activity after being assessed on the quality of its customer service, systems, safety, delivery of the ‘New Zealand experience', environmental procedures and staff training procedures.