THE HEART OF RIBBONWOOD RETREAT
WHY WE EXIST
At Ribbonwood Retreat, we believe in the transformative power of nature and its ability to heal, inspire, and rejuvenate the human spirit. Our purpose is to create a sanctuary where guests can disconnect from the hectic pace of modern life and reconnect with the beauty and serenity of Mother Nature. We are driven by our passion for sustainability and our deep connection to the stunning landscape of the Southern Alps and Glacier Country.
Meaningful Experiences: At Ribbonwood Retreat, we go beyond providing just accommodation; we curate meaningful experiences that touch the soul. We believe that each guest should leave feeling refreshed and inspired. Our why is the driving force behind our dedication to offering personalized adventures and activities based on individual interests, ensuring that every guest has a truly memorable and transformative stay.
Eco-friendly and Sustainable: Our commitment to sustainability is at the core of everything we do. Our why is to protect and preserve the natural beauty that surrounds us. By choosing Ribbonwood Retreat, guests become a part of our eco-conscious journey, where we have planted native trees, nurtured edible gardens, and created a haven for birds and wildlife. Marketing our eco-friendly practices not only appeals to conscious travelers but also allows guests to contribute to environmental conservation.
Connection with Nature: The heart of Ribbonwood Retreat lies in the belief that connecting with nature is essential for the well-being of the mind, body, and soul. Through our marketing efforts, we emphasize the therapeutic benefits of our location, encouraging guests to immerse themselves in the stunning native garden, bask in breathtaking sunsets, and experience the rejuvenating power of the Southern Alps. By focusing on the "Why," we instill a sense of longing for the natural beauty that awaits guests at our retreat.
Unwind and Recharge: Our why centers around helping guests escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and find true relaxation and serenity. We strive to create an environment where guests can instantly unwind and "switch off" from the noise of the world. Through our marketing messages, we communicate the tranquil ambiance, the comfort of our heavenly beds, and the joy of disconnecting from technology to reconnect with themselves and nature.
Inspiring Journeys: Our why is to inspire and ignite a sense of adventure in our guests. By showcasing breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities, we motivate travelers to explore and embrace the wonders of Glacier Country. Whether it's trekking through the rainforest, exploring the nearby glaciers, or simply stargazing on our deck, Ribbonwood Retreat is a gateway to unforgettable experiences and self-discovery.
Ribbonwood Retreat is more than just a destination; it is a transformative journey that guests will cherish for a lifetime.
THE MOUNTAINS WERE CALLING
HOW WE EXIST
For nearly a decade, Jo and Julie found their home near the serene Lake Mahinapua in Ruatapu, where Jo pursued a career as a possum hunter and Julie shaped young minds as a school teacher. However, as the year 2000 dawned, they felt an irresistible pull towards the mountains - a call they couldn't ignore.
Both avid hikers, bird enthusiasts, and lovers of the great outdoors, the quaint town of Franz Josef Glacier, known for its magnificent glacial landscapes, caught their attention. Jo found an opportunity to contribute to conservation efforts with a role at the Department of Conservation as the manager of the "Save the Kiwi" initiative. With this, they embarked on a journey southward, carrying with them a dream of creating a new life in this picturesque locale.
Two years later, that dream began to take shape when they purchased two untouched plots of land. This marked the inception of Ribbonwood Retreat. Their initial vision was not just to construct their dream home, but also to cultivate a self-sustaining lifestyle by growing their own food and populating their land with native trees. Thus began their journey of harmonious living, intertwined with nature.
When Jo & Julie first settled on their one-hectare plot, it was nothing more than two empty paddocks, save for a cluster of majestic totara trees. Jonathan, with his innate affinity for horticulture and an unquenchable passion for gardening, envisioned transforming this bare land into a verdant oasis.
The dream was to cultivate a diverse array of trees, a mix of native species to uphold the local ecosystem's integrity, and exotic varieties for practical purposes like nuts and firewood.
Today, the property boasts over 200 thriving trees and shrubs, carefully arranged to preserve open vistas of the surrounding mountains and the nearby Kiwi sanctuary. This lush environment has become a haven for a variety of bird species. Tuis, fantails, pukekos, tomtits, grey warblers, and kereru now grace the garden with their presence, along with several other garden birds introduced to the area.
The once bare land is now a thriving ecosystem, a testament to the power of diligent gardening and a love for nature.
One day, Julie & Jo received an unexpected call from fellow local motel owners. They were seeking assistance for some travelers who were stranded without a place to stay as the town's accommodations were fully booked. Without hesitation, Julie & Jo welcomed these wanderers into their home.
This spontaneous act of hospitality marked a profound realization for Julie & Jo - they had a passion for hosting and sharing their sanctuary with others. What began as a chance encounter gradually evolved into a dedicated bed and breakfast experience.
In 2005, they expanded their venture by building a cottage on the property. This allowed them to enhance Ribbonwood Retreat's offerings, providing guests with an exclusive, boutique accommodation experience amidst the seclusion and tranquility of their beautiful estate.
Jo and Julie, the heart and soul of Ribbonwood Retreat, are devoted to sharing more than just their splendid accommodation offerings with visitors. They also provide a glimpse into their unique West Coast lifestyle.
Julie, an avid swimmer, takes a daily dip in the nearby lake and is always eager to reveal her favorite local hideaways to guests. Jo, on the other hand, is a font of knowledge about the local flora, fauna, and wildlife. The region's bounty of natural resources and favorable climate allows them to cultivate much of their own food on the property. This homegrown aspect of their lives becomes apparent as guests gather around for breakfast, indulging in a delightful spread of homemade dishes.
A stay at Ribbonwood Retreat transcends the conventional accommodation experience. For Jo and Julie, it's crucial that guests depart feeling refreshed and inspired.
From seemingly minor details like the pure, chemical-free drinking water to the serenity and birdsong that envelop you upon entering Ribbonwood's gardens - Jo and Julie go above and beyond to ensure your stay is not only memorable but also embodies the true essence of the West Coast.
OUR LOVE FOR GLACIER COUNTRY
WHO WE ARE
Twenty-two years ago, our lives took a transformative turn. Jo's advancement within the Department of Conservation, as the manager for the 'Save the Kiwi' program in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, led us to make this idyllic region our home.
We christened our abode "Ribbonwood Retreat," drawing inspiration from the majestic Ribbonwood tree that stands tall and proud by the state highway, right in front of our dwelling. Despite their once widespread presence, these trees are now declining due to their palatability to possums and livestock.
In an effort to restore the natural balance, we've planted Ribbonwoods and a variety of other species indigenous to the area. Our garden now resonates with the chirping of native birds, attracted back by the lush greenery. The local Kereru, in particular, seems to be quite fond of the fresh leaves that sprout in early spring. Our humble efforts have not only added to the charm of Ribbonwood Retreat but also contributed to conserving our precious ecosystem.
Jonathan studied botany at University. He came to Westland in the 80's to work for the Forest Service and never left.
Reliving his days as a possum hunter in the backcountry on the Coast, he will regale you with stories galore from 'going bush' for months at a time.
In 2000. he was appointed manager of the local Kiwi Recovery Programme, working for the Department of Conservation here in Franz Josef. Jo has extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna in our area and loved to share his knowledge and stories.
Julie's career highlight was gaining a Royal Society Science Award which enabled her to work with the Kiwi program on Rowi.
Living overseas, she taught children in Jordan, Egypt, and Italy. Julie was a teacher at the local school, fostering an appreciation for caring for our environment, and won a West Coast Community Award for her environmental work with children.